On June 16, 2021, the Inter-American Defense Board (IADB) held the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) conference, with the aim of disseminating successful experiences and lessons learned on gender integration in the armed forces and security, particularly in peacekeeping, military and security operations, and in the areas of education, recruitment and development of military women, among other topics. “Valuable experiences were presented to the participants of the WPS conference, in order to increase their professional knowledge on issues that represent a challenge for both decision makers and operational personnel,” said Peruvian Army Colonel Guillermo Santolalla, head of the Hemispheric Cooperation Division of the IADB.
The conference attracted more than 8,000 participants from 39 countries, who attended virtually. Speakers from Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Spain, the United States, Honduras, Nicaragua, Peru, the United States, the Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Tobago, and Uruguay, shared their collective progress and lessons learned, seeking to better incorporate women into the military. way. “It is much more than women; it’s about how we make our world safer. How can we really change things if women are not represented in every aspect of our industry?” asked Ambassador Jean E. Manes, civilian deputy to US Navy Adm. Craig S. Faller, Cmdr. of the US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM). “This is not a women’s issue. It’s about seeing how I can be the best at my job, using the full potential of all my people in all sectors. It requires a structural change in recruiting, retention, training, advancement, promotion, and identifying impediments to the full use of talent,” she stated.
women feel insecure
Regarding El Salvador, Ambassador Manes reported that despite significant investments being made in Salvadoran security, with significant progress against most crimes, statistics continue to show that the feeling of security among women has not changed. “Women still feel insecure. The data showed that women who used public transport felt more insecure.
US Air Force Lt. Col. Duilia Turner, director of the WPS Office at SOUTHCOM, addressed the central theme of the event: how to better integrate women into the military. “The importance of the inclusion of women is very simple, but it has a great impact. Military women from partner countries participate and work in all ranks of their armed forces, but it is still insufficient. We need a more professional military education, specialized schools, certified programs, the incorporation of concepts and the development of behavior models. What I’m trying to say is that anyone on this show can become a teacher, a role model.”
Spain, an example
According to the Commander of the Spanish Navy Eva Ara Montojo Oróstica, war has multiple negative effects on women, such as physical, verbal and sexual violence. “But women are not only victims, but initiators of change. Spain has been participating in different military missions abroad for 32 years to increase peace, security and stability. These measures demonstrate our commitment to the world and also to advancing the role of women”, she expressed. Furthermore, according to Chap. of Frag. Montojo, Spain is a leader in gender training for UN peacekeeping missions in the European Union.
On the same subject, the Brazilian Navy Commander Carla Araújo, a military gender adviser at the headquarters of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA in French), said that the participation of women in peacekeeping missions minimizes the risk of sexual abuse. They also help in medical care. “Many local women do not want to be touched by a male doctor. The lack of female presence in these situations can make a local woman unwilling to receive medical treatment,” she explained.
The conference was attended by some key participants, such as representatives of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States, members of the International Committee of the Red Cross and armed forces of the member countries of the IADB, along with think tanks that address the issue. The IADB announced that the institution is committed to holding similar seminars every year, and plans to publish a collection of essays by speakers, as well as conclusions and recommendations from each event.
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Conference Sponsored by the IADB Analyzes the Role of Women in the Armed Forces – Diálogo Américas
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