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Officersförbundet uppmärksammas i EU-parlamentet

Den 6 mars befann sig Officersförbundet i Bryssel och Europaparlamentet för att diskutera bland annat kvinnors roll inom det militära yrket.

Arrangemanget var ett samarbete mellan den europeiska militärfackliga samarbetsorganisationen Euromil och Alde (Alliansen liberaler och demokrater för Europa). I en paneldiskussion inför Europaparlamentet lyftes frågan om vikten av kvinnor inom de militära verksamheterna i Europa. En annan viktig fråga som diskuterades var hur vi kan förändra stereotypen av vem som kan arbeta i stridande befattningar.  

På plats i Bryssel var Officersförbundets ordförande Lars Fresker och ombudsman Elina Meyer. 

Elina talade inför EU-parlamentet om åren inom Försvarsmakten; om de bästa åren i hennes liv men också hennes värsta och om solidaritet, disciplin och personlig utveckling. 

I Elinas tal framgick också att många kvinnor alltjämt bär känslan av att de i högre grad behöver bevisa att de förtjänar sin uniform och att även kvinnor likt män förstår krigföring och kan arbeta i stridande befattningar.

Elina Meyers tal rönte stor uppskattning och flertalet anställda kvinnliga militärer från bland annat Belgien och Nederländerna tackade för ett inspirerande tal.

Hela Elinas tal finns att läsa här nedan. 

"Members of parliament. Esteemed guests. Ladies and gentlemen. On behalf of the Swedish Association for Military Officers I want to start by thanking the ALDE group and EUROMIL for the invitation to this important conference.

It is my great honour to stand here today, speaking on behalf of all those incredible women that are, were or will be a part of the Swedish armed forces. Never in my life have I met so many remarkable and inspiring women as I did during my time in the army. One thing all those women have in common, is that they all have had to fight hard and sacrifice a great deal in order to be an accepted and integrated part of the Swedish military. 

My name is Elina Meyer, my military rank lance corporal I worked in the Swedish armed forces between 2012 and 2018, serving as combat vehicle gunner in a mechanized infantry battalion.

Looking back on my years as soldier, I can summarize them as the best, and worst, of my life. 

For me as individual, it was a time of enormous development and maturity. When it comes to fields such as discipline, pushing physical, mental and emotional boundaries there is no place like the armed forces. And when it comes to such things as the importance of solidarity and the concept of the unbeatable strength in cooperation I am a better person today compared with who I was before my time in the armed forces.

But there were also moments when I had to question myself and if what I was doing was worth the sacrifice. Moments of immense stress and pressure.

My positive sentiment, and that what lies behind my own individual development, I can relate back to the core of what constitutes the activity within the armed forces – working towards a common goal, together and united. 

My negative experience from serving, relates to those stereotypical thoughts and opinions regarding females in the military. Thoughts and opinions that unfortunately has not yet fully been erased within the military ranks, just as they haven´t in the rest of our society. Not even in a country as equal and as “gender aware” as Sweden.

The feeling of constantly having to prove that I had not reached my position through some sort of affirmative action, were present ever so often. Having to prove that I deserve my uniform just as much as my male colleague. That I had the same understanding of armed combat as my fellow male, soldiers – and that the fact that I happen to have my period once a month has nothing to do with my abilities as a soldier.

We have come a long way towards a society that realises that an armed force without diversity, without individuals with different experiences and different views is not an armed force that will win any wars. But we have not come all the way.

My hope is that we continue to strive for a society that understands that when we employ 1 000 men, or 1 000 women, we do not employ 1 000 of the same. We are all different and it is precisely those differences that creates all those pieces that forms the puzzle that in the end forges the group together. 

My hope is also that we keep striving towards a society where we learn to assess our next not by their sex, but by their actions, abilities and qualities as human beings.

I want to believe that we will come to that point in time, but we are not fully there yet. Because my experience as a woman within the armed forces is not unique. Many women have born witness of the same. But I also know that for those that came before me it was probably even worse. Possibly a whole lot worse. Those women paved the way for me and my generation in the armed forces, and hopefully we continue that work so that those that come after us will have an easier time. So, therefore I dare to hope that we are on the right path. 

The legacy with which we live, and have difficulties erasing, is not however something that you will change with new laws or regulations, at least not in Sweden. No, because those steps have already been taken. The changes we need to do are harder, since it comes to norms, attitudes and views. All traits that are deeply rooted in us as human beings, and therefore not possible to change merely by changing a law or two. To achieve real change, we need to work together, constantly and in every aspect, regarding how we look at and treat each other. 

In 1989 women in Sweden where granted the possibility to apply to all military positions on the same terms as men. Today we have female fighter pilots, female special forces operators and – as you can see before you – female CV Gunners. Something that was considered inconceivable only 30 years ago. 

Back then we had the courage and will to make practical and regulatory changes in order to kill stereotypical structures within our society. Those changes have not, however, taken us all the way. The changes we now need to pursue are not the ones you achieve with new legislation. The changes that are necessary today are those we have to make in our own minds. And that work continues.

Thank you."

Foto: © European Union 2019 – EP/photographer