“Achieving gender equality requires the engagement of women and men, girls and boys. It is everyone’s responsibility.”
— Ban Ki-moon
FORT BENNING, GA -- On May 3, members of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC) Command and General Staff Officer Course came together here to participate on the fifth iteration of Institute’s Women, Peace and Security Symposium. The event took place with the CGSOC students at the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade’s Truscott Center and the panelist connecting virtually from within the U.S., Spain, and Mexico.
Co-hosted by the U.S. Northern and the U.S. Southern Commands, the theme of this year’s symposium was the integration of women leaders and gender issues that result in successful security operations, with lasting results for peace, in today’s complex and rapidly evolving operational environment in the Western Hemisphere.
U.S. Southern Command Combatant Commander (USSOUTHCOM), Gen. Laura J. Richardson, delivered the opening remarks live from USSOUTHCOM headquarters in Miami, Florida. She also participated on the question and answer session after her exposition. Following Richardson, Dr. Catherine F. Lantigua and Lt. Col. Duilia Mora Turner talked about “Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) and the Professionalization of the Armed Forces.”
Lantigua is currently in Mexico with the Office of Defense Coordination training team. Has extensively worked with Mexico’s Secretariats of National Defense and of the Navy on WPS strategies. Turner is currently serving as the Chief of the Women, Peace and Security Program at the United States Southern Command.
Dr. Anja Rivara led the next presentation, “Challenges of WPS in the Operational Environment.” She currently works with the Organization of the American States in the implementation of the Inter-American Program to Strengthen Gender Equality in the National Drug Law Enforcement Agencies (GENLEA).
CGSOC student and Costa Rican Police Commander Katia Rivera remarked about the symposium.
“The Symposium was of great help to learn about the advances and projects for the integration of women in the Armed and Police Forces in the United States and friendly countries! I am very interested in these efforts being brought to my country, Costa Rica, within the framework of existing cooperation agreements!
Gender integration in the Costa Rican Police has made progress, however there is still a long way to go on the issue of empowerment and support for women who hold positions within the higher echelons! Knowing and asserting our rights is essential to advance the issue of gender equality and equity.
Department of State representative and fellow CGSOC student Juan C. Campos also commented about the symposium.
“Yesterday's conference was great. The collection of experts gathered on the topic of the role of women in the field of peace and security was truly impressive.”
Following Rivara, Professor Jesus Gil Ruiz talked about “WPS and the Professionalization of the Armed Forces.” Gil is a Colonel (Retired) of the Spanish Army He currently serves as a Gender Specialist at the Peace Operations Training Institute (POTI).
Dr. Francisco Camarena lead the fourth presentation of the symposium. Camarena is with UN Women Mexico, where he is responsible for portfolios relating to the political empowerment of women, the elimination of violence against women and girls, and the construction of peace and security through the inclusion of women. Since 2019, he has participated as a facilitator in the training sessions of the Joint Training Center for Peacekeeping Operations in Mexico. His presentation was, ““Challenges of WPS in the peacekeeping environment.”
U.S. Army Maj. Abid J. Mahmud Aguiar was impressed with the variety of panelist, with such a wide range of backgrounds, who participated.
She added, “The Women Peace and Security symposium provided an excellent discussion of the current WPS framework, its application in the operation environment, and how to strengthen gender equality programs in the armed forces. l enjoyed the diversity of opinions focusing on the Western Hemisphere using NORTHCOM and SOUTHCOM current programs as live examples. My favorite part was hearing the SOUTHCOM Commander providing her personal thoughts on where we are and we where we need to go moving forward.”
Following the panelist, U.S. Northern Command Combatant Commander, Gen. Glen D. Vanherck delivered the closing remarks.
The Women, Peace, and Security Act of 2017 formed the basis for the U.S. Strategy on Women, Peace, and Security (WPS Strategy), promoting women participation in conflict prevention and peacebuilding. Such participation advances peace, national security, economic and social development, and international cooperation.
The Department of Defense is committed to providing professional development in gender inclusion opportunities. An emphasis between gender perspectives in conflict resolution and long-term global security is at the forefront. Therefore, ultimately strengthening the commitment to democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.