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European Union (EU) member states established the Civilian Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) Compact in 2018 to strengthen civilian CSDP missions. Among other things, they committed to promoting better representation of women. Women have remained underrepresented at most levels in these missions, including leadership.
This commitment gained prominence in 2020, the anniversary year of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325. The number of women personnel started to increase in 2019, driven by the expansion of several missions. It increased from 237 in October 2019 to 259 in April 2020. The increase discontinued thereafter, most likely as a consequence of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Meanwhile, the share of women personnel decreased slightly overall—from 22 per cent when the compact was established to 21 per cent in August 2020. There was more variation in the gender balance between and within individual missions.
In order to ensure the delivery of the CDSP Compact, EU member states should, among other things, set targets for women’s representation in civilian CSDP missions and commit to gender parity in future leadership appointments. The European External Action Service (EEAS) should, for example, introduce indicators based on the retention and recruitment of men and women mission personnel and analyse the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on these two issues.