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NEWS | May 31, 2024

Papua New Guinea Defense Force completes Gender Focal Point training with U.S. DoD Support

By Gunnery Sgt. Kassie McDole, Marine Rotational Force - Darwin

In a landmark initiative aimed at promoting Women, Peace and Security (WPS) as a capability to enhance Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF) institutional and organizational effectiveness, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) recently partnered with the PNGDF to conduct a second comprehensive Gender Focal Point training course at the Kumul Leadership Center, Murray Barracks, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea from May 20-24, 2024.

The course was facilitated by the PNGDF Gender Committee with support from the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command's Office of WPS, and trained gender advisors with the Wisconsin Air National Guard and Marine Rotational Force – Darwin 24.3. The intensive course focused on equipping PNGDF personnel with the tools necessary to integrate gender perspectives into their operational strategies. Participants, representing diverse backgrounds within PNGDF, engaged in comprehensive training focused on understanding gender as a core component to sustainable human security outcomes for PNG.

"Gender focal point training is geared toward giving the members of the Papua New Guinea Defense Force the tools required to provide a gender perspective and advise their leaders and commanders in military operations," explained Mr. Chris Pasion, a planner for USINDOPACOM's Office of WPS.

Throughout the program, participants delved into foundational concepts such as the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on WPS, understanding the distinctions between sex and gender, conducting gender analysis, and providing recommendations to their leadership.

"Most of the time we say gender equality, but we forget about equity. We must make an environment suitable for everyone to meet the needs of men, women, boys, and girls," said PNGDF 2nd Lt. Babbra Thomas, a student in the course. “This is not just a women’s issue, this is all of our issue.”

This training was specifically tailored to build upon previous training and designed to facilitate PNGDF gender focal point capacity development through content delivery and small group facilitation. The PNGDF Gender Committee played a pivotal role in leading the course, demonstrating their commitment to fostering gender inclusivity within the defense force.

"The course was beneficial, especially given the increasing presence of female soldiers in our ranks. It has provided me with valuable insights into effectively working with both genders," stated PNGDF Cpl. Ezekiel Davis. “I plan to educate my colleagues about gender-based violence and encourage male involvement in supporting women."

The professionalism and leadership of the PNGDF Gender Committee ensured the training was relevant. By tailoring course content to the specific needs of the PNGDF, they supported the development of a resilient force capable of providing sustainable responses to an evolving complex human security landscape.

"Most of the time, we forget about men's vulnerabilities to gender-based violence. Gender perspective must encompass the needs of all genders," emphasized Thomas. “I now feel I have the knowledge to raise awareness and promote male involvement in my workspace.”

With the conclusion of the program, participants emerged as gender focal points, equipped with the knowledge and skills to advocate for gender initiatives within the PNGDF. The collaboration between the PNGDF and U.S. DoD underscores the commitment to fostering gender responsive initiatives within the PNGDF operational environment.

"It's gratifying to witness the commitment of PNGDF personnel to enhancing security through gender-inclusive practices," remarked Pasion.

As PNGDF continues to prioritize Gender, Peace and Security awareness, they stand poised to make significant strides within its organization and beyond. Through targeted training programs, PNGDF reaffirms its dedication to fostering gender inclusivity for all its personnel.