The issue of gender in peace support operations took a front row seat as dozens of representative from across the African continent gathered in Kenya at the International Peace Support Training Center Jan. 20 for a week-long conference.
Forty students from 11 different African nations attended the "Gender Perspective in Peace Support Operations: A Comprehensive Approach" course which equips students with the necessary knowledge and skills to promote the application of gender perspectives in peacekeeping operations.
"Relationship with the population requires respect, empathy, and training as we do our best for them," said General Alberto Asarta of the Spanish Army who emphasized the importance of a diverse perspective in peacekeeping.
Also in attendance was IPSTC Director Brig. Gen. Robert Kabage, Deputy Ambassador of Spain, Ricardo Losa, Deputy Ambassador of the Netherlands, Marielle Geraedts as well as Dr. Barbara Sotirin, AFRICOM’s Deputy J5 Director.
Throughout the conference internationally renowned experts on peacekeeping, international humanitarian law, security sector reform and protection of civilians shared their expertise and engaged in dialogue with the students who also shared their own experiences in African peacekeeping.
“The international security community is increasingly realizing that recognizing the complex gendered realities of armed conflict is essential for sustainable mission success and peace," said Ann Stieglitz, AFRICOM Global Peace Operations Program Manager.
"This trend is evidenced by several UN Security Council resolutions and an increasing number of National Action Plans that address gender concerns," she added.
Tailored for the African audience, the course in Kenya is a unique partnership between AFRICOM, the IPSTC, the Netherlands and Spanish bilateral initiative.
"Comprehensiveness is all about building on diverse views," said Deputy Ambassador Geraedts.
In the spirit of that comprehensiveness, students are compromised of men and women, military and civilians, government and nongovernment.
The week-long course was built on the work of the award winning European Security and Defense College course developed by a bilateral initiative of the Netherlands and Spain held twice annually in Madrid and Amsterdam.
Since 2012, AFRICOM has partnered with the Netherlands and Spanish governments and their militaries to develop and promote the course.
The IPSTC is an international Center of Excellence for peace support operation training at all levels as well as peace and conflict research.
"We are excited to be collaborating with US AFRICOM," said Deputy Ambassador Geraedts.