Five female leaders from the Florida Army National Guard participated in the first “Women, Peace and Security Workshop” in Georgetown, Guyana, August 5-6, 2021. The workshop was based on the WPS Act of 2017 and the U.S. State Department Implementation Plan of 2020.
The existing state partnership between the Florida National Guard and Guyana offers a perfect vehicle for exercising the principles of the WPS. The act and implementation focus on the participation of women in peace and security; protection of women and girls from violence; inclusion of women in conflict prevention; equal access to relief and recovery; protection of human rights; and incorporation of a gender perspective into peace and security efforts.
“We hope to expand the partnership between the FLNG and the Guyana Defence Force through implementing these initiatives in an effort to help Guyana increase the roles and opportunities for women in the GDF and other government organizations,” said Lt. Col. Jennifer Hunt, commander of the 146th Signal Battalion in Jacksonville, FL. “It is my hope that the GDF, as well as the Guyana government, will continue to move towards the integration and incorporation of females in all levels of government and military occupations.”
The time spent learning from each other was not purely academic.
“It gave me tremendous pride to represent the FLNG,” said Col. Elizabeth Evans, Florida National Guard J5. “Given our leadership’s focus on Diversity and Inclusion within our organization, it was easy to communicate that message to our counterparts in Guyana and it was extremely well received by the women participating and their leadership.”
According to Evans, much of the discussion was about the full integration of women in each of the services, specifically with regards to their border mission and austere environment positions. Unlike the U.S. Armed Forces, the GDF is gender segregated in general and not just by job type. This workshop is geared towards encouraging full integration.
“I am hopeful we are able to return and see what advancements have been made and how women are employed and given the opportunity to serve across the force to the benefit of the GDF and Guyana,” said Evans.
The theme that ties the entire group together is that women should be afforded the same opportunities to serve as their male counterparts.
“I have been blessed to have many opportunities as a female leader in the FLNG and I am thankful for leadership who sees and understands the values of having females serve in all capacities and ranks and who not only supports our cause but champions it,” said Hunt. “My individual success would not be possible without the hard work, courage, and determination of the females who came before me or the support of our male counterparts, and it has been an unbelievable privilege to play even a small role in the efforts to afford the women of the GDF and Guyana government the same opportunities and privileges to serve.”
“The Women Peace and Security Workshop was a very informative activity which produced lively and interactive discussions and information sharing,” said Lt. Col. Natasha Stanford, Guyana Defence Force. “The information garnered will serve to guide as we plan for the full integration of women in the GDF.”