Suriname’s Defense Force Strengthens the Role of Women 

Suriname’s Defense Force Strengthens the Role of Women 

By Geraldine Cook/Diálogo
September 13, 2021

“It’s very important to share your story and encourage all other women and men in the world to think about the role you’re playing in your organization, family, and community.” These were the opening remarks of Surinamese Minister of Defense Krishna Mathoera, speaking at the first forum of senior leaders held by U.S. Southern Command’s (SOUTHCOM) Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) Program on September 7. “Over the past years, we have made continuous efforts in addressing not only the issues regarding the woman and peace agenda; and war, peace, and security agenda, but also strengthening the position of women in various defense and security institutions. The inclusion of women in security institutes is not a legal issue, but more of a policy decision,” said Minister Mathoera.

WPS is part of a global effort to support the contributions of women in the defense and security sectors around the world. The program is a cornerstone to SOUTHCOM’s mission of promoting security partnerships across the Western Hemisphere.

U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Yvette Davids, SOUTHCOM chief of Staff (left); Krishna Mathoera, minister of Defense of Suriname; U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Duilia M. Turner, WPS Chief at SOUTHCOM; and Jennifer Typrowicz, WPS gender advisor at SOUTHCOM. (Photo: Geraldine Cook/Diálogo)

Minister Mathoera shared her life as a woman leader with over 38 years of experience, serving in the Suriname Police Force for more than 30 years and as minister of Defense since July 2020.

Minister Mathoera said one of her goals is to increase the leading role of women within the Suriname’s Armed Forces, which currently only makes up 5 percent of the entire force.

Minister Mathoera was also a guest of the “Breaking Barriers podcast series,” a WPS initiative which recognizes women from the defense and security forces of the Western Hemisphere as equal partners in preventing conflicts and building peace.

When we met in January, I was struck by the minister’s focus on trust, focus on building a team within the [Surinamese] Ministry of Defense and then across the government that was trusted and it was able to win the legitimacy of the population,” said U.S. Navy Admiral Craig S. Faller, SOUTHCOM commander. “Today, the minister mentioned several times the professionalism of the forces in Suriname… In order to be professional, we have to have forces that understand the rule of law, human rights, how to apply that, and forces that reflect the society that they come from. We know that in the U.S., we work hard; we know we’ve got a ways to go to achieve the right balance, the right representation of the talent that we have in the nation and the forces.”

Minister Mathoera added that “extraordinary women should never let anyone discourage them with negativity and subversion. Keep your focus on your goals. Let discouragement and prejudice be an inspiration for working harder and reaching your goals.”

The Breaking Barriers podcast of Krishna Mathoera, minister of Defense of Suriname, can be found at:http://www.southcom.mil/WPS/audio/668721/

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