YOKOSUKA, Japan (Jan. 15, 2020) –Sailors assigned to various units in Japan participated in a two-day course held Jan. 14 - 15 on Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka, about gender perspectives during and post-conflict and crisis in support of a new national strategy on Women, Peace and Security (WPS) and domestic law.
The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command Gender in Security Cooperation Course, tailored to foreign area officers and exercise planners, was developed to increase awareness and develop skills necessary to integrate a gender perspectives into security cooperation activities and effectively advocate for and assist with implementation of the U.S. Strategy on Women, Peace and Security (WPS).
The U.S. Strategy WPS, published in June 2019, was developed to implement the WPS Act of 2017, the first legislature of its kind globally to promote meaningful participation of women in mediation and negotiation processes that seek to prevent, mitigate or resolve violent conflict.
Both the U.S. Strategy on WPS and the WPS Act support United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, passed in 2000, which acknowledged a need for gender perspectives in armed conflict and urged countries worldwide to develop WPS national action plans. As of December 2019, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom reported 83 countries have done so with various levels of government implementation.
The need for WPS implementation, especially in military operations, is crucial to peace and stability, according to Tomoko Matsuzawa, Japan Ministry of Defense director for defense cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region.
“At the end of the day, women constitute half of the population of the world,” said Matsuzawa after giving a lecture on legal frameworks that relate to WPS. “However, there is a reality that because of the gender perspective, gender roles in each country or region, the empowerment of gender can still be under development.”
“The U.S. is Japan’s ally,” said Matsuzawa as she continued to speak about WPS education and need for both countries to work together to advance positive change within the area. “With regard to gender, jointly we can do a lot of things targeting specifically the Indo-Pacific region.”
During opening remarks for the course, Capt. Mark Asuncion, U.S. 7th Fleet assistant chief of staff for international strategy and engagement, encouraged those in attendance to use what they learned to affect the overall competition continuum within the region.
“We need to build our team of countries that support international law,” said Asuncion. “It’s not enough to understand this…If you cannot translate this to your partners to change their needle to affect the continuum and affect the needle going against the United States to the bad actors then it doesn’t mean anything.”
Topics of discussion included gender based violence and exploitation, international laws governing gender rights, gender in security cooperation, gender perspectives for humanitarian and combat operations, identifying stakeholders, building gender networks and developing overall action plans.
Those in attendance had different reasons for participating in the training. Lt. Cmdr. Chloe Mailer, plans and policy officer at U.S. Naval Forces Japan, was attracted to the course in hopes of learning more about gender considerations in security operations.
“As a foreign area officer, I am very interested in theater security cooperation,” said Mailer. “This has been a great initial overview on ways we can incorporate this legislation into military planning.”
According to Monica Herrera, Women, Peace and Security program curriculum developer at U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, training throughout the Department of Defense is still evolving.
At the DoD level, the Operational Gender Advisor Course has been taught four times to those at combatant commands. U.S. Indo-Pacific Command hosted the course twice to train personnel to serve as gender advisors in different capacities.
“At Indo-Pacific Command, we recognize that training and education is really the key to moving this (WPS) implementation forward,” said Herrera. “The more people that understand what WPS is and how to apply it to their functional areas, the better the implementation is going to be.”
Along with the Command Gender in Security Cooperation Course, Herrera developed a three-day Gender in Operations Course designed for exercise planners and operational planners and assisted with development of a Gender Advisor Course for the Republic of Fiji Military Forces.