WINDHOEK, Namibia -- Seven African nations of Namibia, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Zambia gathered, June 24, to kick-off a week-long Regional Gender Mainstreaming Seminar. This seminar, hosted by the Namibian Defense Force and co-sponsored by U.S. Africa Command and U.S. Army Africa, will provide information sessions ranging from laws and leadership to sexual harassment and sexual assault prevention.

Col. Sara V. Simmons, U.S. Army Africa G-1, personnel director, and Sgt. Maj. Carolina D. Johnson, USARAF equal opportunity sergeant major traveled to Botswana and Namibia in 2013 to present two military-to-military engagements on female integration training. The fruition of this seminar is a direct result of those training events.

During the opening ceremony, remarks were presented by the Honourable Nahas Angula, Namibian inister of defence; Mary Grace McGeehan, chargé d' affairs, and Brig. Gen. Peter L. Corey, USARAF deputy commanding general.

"This regional gender mainstreaming seminar is directly related to the global effort to educate, promote and support gender awareness," said Corey. "Patriotism and national loyalty are not felt by men alone."

Simmons, a Johns Island, S.C. native, said it is important for USARAF to continue to invest in this initiative because it is USARAF's mission to build capacity and capability of its African partners.

"This initiative supports Executive Order 13595 signed by President Obama and United Nations Security Resolution 1325 which supports engaging partner countries' national security leadership to incorporate a gender perspective and women, peace and security initiatives in their planning and activities while promoting, supporting and encouraging African partners to integrate women into their defense forces," Simmons said.