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In this panel discussion, which is jointly organised by the Embassy of Ireland to Belgium, the Department of Foreign Affairs and the IIEA, three distinguished Irish women highlight their experiences in senior leadership roles and offer perspectives on how the application of the Women, Peace and Security, (WPS), agenda can enhance foreign, security and defence policy.

2020 marks the 20th anniversary of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 and is the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. To celebrate these milestones, the panel discuss how the meaningful participation of women at the decision-making table can shape better policy and operational decisions. This event is part of the Irish Embassy’s #VisibleWomen2020 initiative, amplifying the female voice and women’s role in diplomacy, development, entrepreneurship and the arts.

About the Speakers:

Brigadier General Maureen O’Brien is the most senior woman serving in the Irish Defence Forces and the first Irish woman to achieve the rank of Brigadier General. She is Deputy Force Commander of the UN Disengagement Observer Force Mission in the Golan Heights, and has extensive overseas experience in Lebanon, Western Sahara, East Timor, Chad and Sarajevo.

Jacqui McCrum is the first woman to lead the Department of Defence as Secretary General. Previously, she was Deputy Secretary General in the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Director General and Accounting Officer in the Office of the Ombudsman, Offices of the Information Commissioner, and Commissioner for Environmental Information, Standards in the Public Office Commission, Referendum Commission and Commission for Public Service Appointments.

Sonja Hyland is the first woman to serve as Political Director in the Department of Foreign Affairs. She has also served as Ireland’s Ambassador to Ethiopia, South Sudan, Djibouti, IGAD and the African Union, and Ireland’s Ambassador to Mexico, Cuba, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Colombia and Peru.