Military and civilian personnel from 14 Latin American and Caribbean partner nations gathered at the workshop “Strategic and Political Implications of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325: Women, Peace, and Security,” in Washington, D.C., April 12, 2023. The workshop was organized by the William J. Perry Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies and U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM).
“It’s interesting to analyze how leaders want to implement the WPS [Women, Peace, and Security] initiative in their national plan; how they contemplate the importance of involving women in their decision process,” said Peruvian Navy Lieutenant Commander Alexa Pereya, one of the 63 attendees at the event. “This workshop encourages me to learn from other nations and see how advanced they are in terms of having a national plan including the WPS agenda.”
“WPS is a very valuable framework to apply in different perspectives, both in the civilian sphere as well as in defense and security,” said Mexican Army Major Paola Rios Hernández, a recent graduate of the Inter-American Defense College. “This workshop allows us to help take elements for the implementation of actions of our national action plan and concrete actions at the institutional level.”
Dr. Fabiana Perera led the academic event, a three-day forum focused on the creation of policies to maximize the meaningful participation of women in security and defense activities, that preceded the Perry Center’s 2023 Combating Transnational Threat Networks and Strategic Implications of Human Rights and Rule of Law courses.
The workshop covered issues ranging from WPS origins, national action plans, gender perspectives and analysis, barriers to meaningful participation, and how to integrate WPS into military missions. This year more than half of the participants were men, illustrating the premise that WPS is not a women-only issue but one that concerns everyone.
“The experiences shared by the officers who are part of the armed forces were fundamental because they helped us learn from their experiences and improve the inclusion processes that we have in each armed force,” said Ecuadorian Army Lieutenant Colonel Adriana Ramírez.
Guest speakers included Michelle Strucke, deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Global Partnerships, U.S. Department of Defense; Brazilian Navy Vice Admiral Alexandre Rabello, president of the Council of Delegates, Inter-American Defense Board; U.S. Army Brigadier General Isabel Smith, director of Joint Staff, New York State National Guard; and representatives from the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of State, and partners from Brazil, Canada, Peru, Spain, Uruguay, Women in International Security, and Georgetown University.
Dr. Fanny Villalba de Caballero, a member of the doctoral thesis commission of the Institute for Advanced Strategic Studies of Paraguay, said that her organization is very interested in strengthening their academic curriculum to incorporate gender perspective. “In Paraguay, just like in the countries of the colleagues with whom we shared this event, the gender perspective is still an issue that although not new still faces some resistance in the military field.”
Argentine Naval Prefecture Captain Gerardo José Alarcón Torres, head of the Drug Trafficking Department, was absorbed in the discussion concerning women in leadership. “The force I represent is relatively new and the incorporation of women who are currently assuming the leadership role is very important, that is why I am interested, to know how to incorporate them to this role.”
The workshop combined expert presentations with hands-on activities to allow participants to demonstrate their confidence in applying the newly acquired knowledge to defense and security issues.
Luis Fernando Niño López, research professor at the Simón Bolivar University in Colombia, concluded: “For me it has been personally very important because it clarified the concepts and above all, it helped me to consolidate the networking, the relationship we had with our colleagues because we can now easily speak of a network in Latin America. Now it is up to the Perry Center and the rest of the organizers to follow up with the countries that were here.”