FORT BENNING, Ga. -- The Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), presented its third annual Women, Peace and Security Panel Discussion Feb. 28 at the Institute auditorium.

With the theme "The essential role of women in conflict resolution, security, and peace negotiations," the Center for Human Rights and Democracy (CHRD) brought in four distinguished and diverse experts to discuss those topics.

Pete Marocco, a deputy assistant secretary of state in the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations, called himself more of a practitioner of the idea of getting women into international leadership roles than an expert on the subject. He talked about helping partner nations to realize that women's involvement in high-level discussions is important to getting buy-in from all parties.

Gimena Sanchez-Garzoli, the leading Colombia human rights advocate at the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), addressed women's current roles in issues of peace and illegal armed groups, internally displaced persons, human rights and ethnic minority rights.

From the Organization of American States (OAS), Hilary Anderson, senior gender specialist at the Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM), focused on global women's rights and gender equality issues, having worked those issues with the Pan-American Health Organization, the United Nations, and now the OAS.

U.S. Air Force Col. Sarah Russ currently works for the dean of the faculty at the U.S Air Force Academy. Previously, has been assigned as chief of Latin America affairs at the United States Air Forces Southern Command and South Asia / Oceania country director at U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. She discussed her experiences in traveling to Argentina, Brazil, El Salvador, Mexico and Peru to assist the partner nation militaries with integration of females in aviation and to mentor their female officers.

WHINSEC has taken a lead role in meeting its requirements in the National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security; this is the fourth set of discussions about the WPS, but the first time we have gone online and interactive.