Advancing women’s roles in security institutions and decision-making is a foundational component of regional security. Both the United States and Colombia recognize this and are enhancing their military partnership to advance the Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) agenda.
During a visit to Colombia on December 14, U.S. Navy Admiral Craig S. Faller, commander of U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), and Civilian Deputy to the Commander and Foreign Policy Adviser Ambassador Jean Manes joined Colombian Army General Luis Navarro, commanding general of the Colombian Military Forces, for a WPS roundtable to explore new ways to augment the role of women in the military.
“This is an important element of both our militaries in terms of professionalism, as well as really taking advantage of all elements that are in our societies to make our countries more secure, and also more inclusive,” said Ambassador Manes, who provided opening and summary remarks at the roundtable discussion.
Servicewomen from all branches of the Colombian Military Forces provided first-hand perspectives about the importance of inclusive teams in building security and responding to disasters.
“Women are contributing transversally; we have evolved,” said Colombian Navy Lieutenant Commander Nataly Muñoz Ariza. She emphasized the transformation of women’s roles in the Colombian Military Forces to leadership, operational, and logistical opportunities.
The United Nations Security Council established the WPS agenda in 2000, which recognizes a basic premise: women’s involvement in efforts to build peace and maintain security leads to better security outcomes for everyone. In 2017, the United States became the first country in the world to pass a law on WPS, heralding a new era for military cooperation with Latin America and the Caribbean. The United States and Colombia launched its formal WPS partnership in 2019.
The U.S.-Colombia partnership recognizes that equal roles for women in civilian and security institutions bolster democracy, enhance public confidence in government, and make government responsive to civil conflict and disasters. More than 80 countries in the world have a National Action Plan or similar strategic framework on WPS.