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09 21 2023

United towards gender equality: Perspectives from Major Derek Aubin, NCI Agency Exercise Project Manager

Gender equality is an important focus of NATO's cooperation with other international organizations, in particular the United Nations (UN). Both organizations have the responsibility and opportunity to be leading promotors of gender issues integration.

Initiatives like the NATO's Women, Peace and Security (WPS) or the HeForShe campaign, led by the UN, highlight efforts in combatting gender inequalities and the role of allies in the journey towards gender equality.

NATO's endeavour to integrate gender perspectives across its three core tasks (deterrence and defence, crisis prevention and management, and cooperative security) and throughout its political and military structures led to its first formal Policy on Women, Peace and Security in December 2007, and efforts to ensure the success of this important work are on-going.

With the HeForShe campaign, the UN encourages men and people of all genders to play their part in working towards gender equality, recognising that achieving true equality requires the active involvement of everyone. The message of the movement is simple: when people of all genders, across all ages take an active role towards gender equality, the society at large benefits.

Similarly, at the NATO Communications and Information Agency (NCI Agency) we champion diversity, foster fairness and drive inclusion. The Agency strives to close the gender gap in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and is taking steps to ensure its workplace is an inclusive and equitable space for all.

United towards gender equality: Perspectives from Major Derek Aubin, NCI Agency Exercise Project Manager

Allyship and gender equality at the NCI Agency

In order to continue this important conversation, we spoke with Major Derek Aubin, Exercise Project Manager at the Agency about his perspective on allyship, gender equality and diversity and inclusion.

"More men are currently aware that they should be prominent allies on gender equity, but there are always more opportunities open to be more active within the community," says Major Derek Aubin, Exercise Project Manager at the NCI Agency.

Major Aubin's role within the Operations and Exercises (OPEX) Branch is to coordinate the Agency's support to NATO exercises. A member of the Canadian Armed Forces since 2003, Major Aubin joined the NCI Agency in July 2022, and immediately volunteered to serves as the Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Focal Point in Mons, Belgium.

In this role, Major Aubin strategically observes and addresses any barriers to equality within his community and provides recommendations on steps forward to the Agency's Diversity and Inclusion Officer and the Agency's Chief People Office at large.

For Major Aubin, being a Focal Point comes down to caring about the wellbeing of people. The role allows him to be engaged in important conversations taking place within the Agency on social issues and potential areas for development.

"The wisest people I have met in my life have placed focus on being fair and kind," says Aubin. "Reciprocity is key to enabling the team you are with, whether it be close family, work family or the whole family within an establishment."

Embedding gender perspectives

For Major Aubin, the message behind a global solidarity movement like HeForShe is one that resonates deeply and one he is working to push forward within the wider-Mons community. For example, while the Agency is working to increase its workforce to reflect the greater population of the Alliance, its Operations and Exercises Branchs' military and civilian workforce is still an area primarily dominated by men.

"We should be implementing a gender perspective at every level of our operations and the only way to do that is by having women in the room who can provide input strategically, operationally and tactically", says Aubin. "Men in leadership positions can continue to have an active role in diversity, inclusion and equity, but it is also a leadership responsibility to have gender advisors advise on deployed task forces and capabilities."

Major Aubin is working alongside the Diversity and Inclusion Officer to kick-start initiatives within the Agency, as well as the Supreme Headquarters Allied Power Europe (SHAPE) Gender Advisor in Mons to enhance existing structures, policies and posturing for future changes.

"Having a more diverse NCI Agency, means that we are all continuing our great collaborations and successes, because our environment consists of the conditions that allow for the expressions and experiences of different groups to flourish," expresses Aubin. "By placing focus on a more inclusive workplace, we can remove some of the personal, cultural, institutional and structural barriers and produce more focused and beneficial impacts for everyone."