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NEWS | April 3, 2024

U.S. Indo-Pacific Command recognizes Women of Excellence in Emergency Management and Contingency Planning during Women’s History Month

U.S. Indo-Pacific Command Public Affairs

U.S. Indo-Pacific Command hosted a luncheon March 25, to recognize and celebrate the impact of more than 30 service members and civilians within the Indo-Pacific area of responsibility. The first of its kind, held in conjunction with Women’s History Month, and highlighted the significant contributions of women in joint interagency crisis preparedness and response.

The attendees included representatives from USINDOPACOM, service component commands, installation commands and the federal interagency, and included a virtual message from the first female Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator, Deanne Criswell.

“From the wildfire response in Maui to the hurricanes in Guam, emergency response operations have a growing role, and the event sought to highlight the value of diversity when it comes to problem-solving and crisis contingencies,” said Criswell.

“I would like to see more women in the emerging information and cyber fields as they are becoming more vital to how we view the world,” said Dede Kalaukoa Figueira, deputy director, manpower and personnel directorate for INDOPACOM. “Women may hear and think about things another way. Even though we may share some of the same experiences we are able to offer different perspectives.”

Jacqueline Freeland an honoree recognized for her service serves as the emergency manager and installation protection officer for MCBH Kaneohe Bay. She has spent 30 years in federal civilian service and remarked on the changes she’s seen in that time.

“The field of emergency management has evolved,” Freeland said. “Having been recognized for my own hard work during my career meant a lot to me. I’ve seen with my own eyes the number of women in the field has increased during my tenure making recognition very important, especially for women.”

Women’s History Month provides an opportunity to reflect on the accomplishments, contributions and sacrifices of women throughout the nation’s history, including many within the uniformed and civil services.

This year’s theme, “Women Who Advocate for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion,” underscores the importance of perspective and experience toward building effective teams.

“Your contributions before, during and after disasters have saved lives and have helped us build more resilient communities across our nation,” Criswell. “The truth is, we still do not have enough diversity in our professions. But we need more diverse voices to better serve communities.”

While guest speakers celebrated the recent accomplishments of those being recognized, they also highlighted the work still being done to promote women’s full and equal participation in peace and security as a requirement toward sustainable peace. In 2019, USINDOPACOM created an office of Women, Peace and Security to oversee command-wide implementation to shape and impact efforts throughout the region that will enhance understanding of complex challenges within the Indo-Pacific.

“While we have seen immense progress over the last few decades in gender equality and in women’s advancement within the security sector, there still remains real glass ceilings, and barriers that require the leadership, innovation and capabilities of both women and men to overcome,” said Sharon Feist, the director for Women, Peace and Security at USINDOPACOM. “We cannot be in the business of providing security if we don’t understand how conflict and crisis affect different segments of the population in distinct ways.”

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