DoD Works to Incorporate More Gender Perspective in Operations

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  • By Air Force Tech. Sgt. Chuck Broadway
  • DoD News, Defense Media Activity

The Defense Department is advancing its efforts to include more women in peacebuilding and conflict resolution processes following the signing of the 2017 Women, Peace and Security Act.

Mark Swayne, acting deputy assistant secretary of defense for stability and humanitarian affairs in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict, said DoD is looking to leverage the unique aspects women bring to the table, not only in peacebuilding and conflict resolution, but also in all facets of military operations.

“When working with partner militaries or civilians, we are trying to include women so they don’t get overlooked,” he said. “Ensuring that our partners include [female perspectives] makes us more effective in our military operations.”

Research on the effectiveness of including women in military peacebuilding and conflict resolution negotiations found that peace agreements between civil society groups are 64 percent more likely to succeed -- and 35 percent more likely to last at least 15 years -- than agreements that overlooked the female perspective.

Setting the Example

According to the Women, Peace and Security Act, Congress found that, around the world, women remain underrepresented in conflict prevention, resolution, and post-conflict peacebuilding efforts. Meaningful participation of women in these operations helps to promote a more inclusive and democratic society, and is critical to the long-term stability of countries and regions, Congress determined.

To promote these findings, DoD is taking the necessary steps to be a global leader by setting a key example for international partners.

“We have a well-integrated military,” Swayne said. “Many of our allies and NATO partners are the same. But we have many military partners around the world where females do not have the same level of representation.”

Swayne added that when DoD representatives send female officers and senior noncommissioned officers to attend meetings with international partners, it conveys a strong message that females take a high priority within the government and the DoD.

Full-Scale Implementation

DoD leaders are working with the National Security Council on an interagency strategy for incorporating and operationalizing the Women, Peace and Security Act. Once that strategy is finalized, a DoD instruction will be created outlining how to implement women, peace, and security measures into all DoD operations. Swayne said he hopes to have the new instruction in place by the end of 2018.

DoD and the Joint Staff recently instituted a Women, Peace and Security Synchronization Group. This group, consisting of representatives from the combatant commands, military services, regional centers and professional military education institutions, as well as DoD and Joint Staff leaders, meets monthly to enable cross-sharing, optimize lessons learned and best practices, and advance future programs throughout the department.

Combatant commands are already successfully implementing Women, Peace and Security Act objectives through their individual theater campaign plans. These efforts aim to educate personnel on how integrating women, peace, and security concepts increases overall mission effectiveness.

“We are weaving Women, Peace and Security into all training activities, and into the fabric of how we institutionalize DoD objectives,” Swayne said. “It’s an opportunity for us to include women, peace, and security scenarios in every activity we are doing [to become] more effective in our military activities.”

Pangarso Suryotomo, left, Kasubdit Peran Masyarakat National Disaster Management Authority; Royal New Zealand Navy Cmdr. Karen Ward, Pacific Partnership 2016 Women, Peace and Security lead; and Randa Mardanis, right, Women, Peace and Security seminar mediator, speak at a panel during the Pacific Partnership 2016 Women, Peace and Security seminar in Padang, Indonesia, Aug. 26, 2016. The seminar gave Pacific Partnership personnel, local government and provincial officials an open forum to discuss the roles and requirements of women in disasters. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Elizabeth Merriam