Women in Defence


Between February and March 2018, COAJE will hold its event “Atlantic Amazons”, dedicated to those women playing a particularly important role in the field of defence in Spain, may it be by reason of their contributing to the growth of the Spanish Armed Forces, or thanks to their individual collaboration in the civil field with the latter. From COAJE we wish to provide special visibility to those women who work day by day for gender equality in the field of Security and Defence.

Despite its integration being significantly being more delayed than that of the majority of European and NATO countries, the importance of women in the Spanish army rapidly increased, to the point of making up 12% of the military forces in 2006. According to the military observatory for equality between men and women in the Armed Forces, this figure amounted to 12.5% towards the start of 2016.

In September 1988, the first women who would become soldiers of our country, enrolled in Spanish  military academies. Today, one in eight members of our Armed Forces is a female, making Spain the second country with the greatest female presence among its enlisted members.

NATO currently possesses seven female Ministers of Defence, something quite unheard of until today. This figure represents a historic record, however we would like to stress that it is still pretty low: there are 21 men who currently hold this position among member-states of the Atlantic Alliance. In addition to this, the position of Secretary-General of NATO has been held exclusively by men since British general and diplomat Lord Ismay became its first director in 1952. Since then, the 15 leaders who have succeeded each other as head of the biggest military Alliance of the planet have all been men.

NATO’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has confirmed that the security of its allies will improve significantly if women are incorporated on equal terms in defence institutions as well as in the army, a field in which there has been some progress but there is definitely still a long way to go. Norway’s former prime minister is an example to follow regarding the integration of women in the military world. Now, in his role as NATO’s top leader, he advocates for the organisation to plays an important role in the promotion of gender equality.

Following in the footsteps of the “Soldier Idoia Rodríguez” Award, COAJE seeks to highlight and celebrate the contribution of women to Spanish Defence.

The Idoia Rodríguez Award was created by executive Order DEF/509/2007, on 6 March, to acknowledge the work of people and institutions, both military and civil, which have taken effective action to empower women and helped secure equal opportunities and gender equality in the Armed Forces.

The Prize bears the name of the first Spanish servicewoman deceased during an international mission, in homage to her memory. Ms. Idoia Rodríguez Buján was part of the Spanish contingent deployed in Afghanistan, within NATO’s ISAF operation. After enlisting in the Spanish Armed Forces, she passed away on February 21st of 2007 and was decorated with the NATO Medal by a resolution of 13 February 2007 (BOD. 21-02-2007).