RCAF member deploys as gender advisor

News Article / February 20, 2018

By Officer Cadet Kylie Penney

While attending Staff College last year, Major Rhea MacLean took several classes on gender-based analysis, and completed an independent research paper on gender integration in the Canadian Armed Forces. That’s why, when nominations were being sought for a deployment to Latvia as the gender advisor on Operation Reassurance Roto 8, she quickly submitted her name. She was selected as the perfect fit for this unique role.

As the gender advisor, Major MacLean will work for Commander Task Force Latvia, overseeing all gender-related training and advising on all gender-related issues for the Canadians on deployment. She will ensure that the “gender focal point representatives”, whose roles are secondary to their primary duties, are being well-advised, well-trained and are passing the relevant information to the troops.

Before starting in her new position, she embarked on a two-week prerequisite gender advisor course in Sweden, at the Nordic Centre for Gender in Military Operations – the leading international centre on gender in military operations.

“I am looking forward to the training in Sweden the most, because I find it an interesting topic and think it is really positive that we are moving in that direction as a Force of our own,” Major MacLean said before leaving for Sweden. “The opportunity to get this kind of training from the subject matter experts, with such a diverse group of participants from all over the world, will be fascinating.”

This deployment will be the second for Major MacLean in her career. She deployed to Kuwait on Operation Impact from December 2015 to July 2016 as the senior duty officer for the operations cell, but expects this deployment and role to be an entirely different experience.

“Last time was more about managing mission-specific operations on a tactical level,” she said, “whereas this position will involve working with the commander on broader issues and operational planning at the strategic level. I think being a female air operations major in the aerospace control occupation, with some background in gender studies, will allow me to bring a different perspective and unique approach to the role.”

Despite the fact that she will really miss her cats and dog while she is away, she says she is very excited about taking on the new challenge. “It’s going to be a great experience,” she said. “It will be very enlightening to get different perspectives and approaches to managing gender in the military. I am excited to gain extra expertise in gender-based analysis and to be able to expand on this fascinating subject.”

She also says she is looking forward to experiencing the cultural and historical aspect of living in Europe, and hopes to tour some countries on her leave.

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