Feminization of Defense
Four of Europe’s five female defense ministers met in Paris with French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on July 13, 2017, joined by EU foreign policy chief Frederica Mogherini. The group consists of Roberta Pinotti of Italy, Ursula von der Leyen of Germany, María Dolores de Cospedal of Spain, and Florence Parly of France. The four defense minsters together represent 800,000 uniformed servicemen and women, over half of all European armed forces.
Alexandra de Hoop Scheffer is cited in the article, remarking that the increasing role of women in ministerial defense roles reflects a changing attitude toward the role and priorities of European military power, and that the political and technocratic experience of Europe’s female defense ministers indicates a strategic priority of more effective budgetary management.
Alexandra de Hoop Scheffer additionally observed that meetings such as the one on July 13 show a willingness for defense cooperation between the member states represented, and in particular a desire to show off this cooperation between defense ministries. Parly and von der Leyen working closer together comes at a time when Franco–German defense cooperation is a key policy goal, and while both women are rising stars in their respective domestic political scenes.