SMYRNA, Tenn. - The Tennessee National Guard hosted a three-day conference about the disproportionate effect of wartime violence on women and children and the meaningful insights women add to leadership positions.
More than 60 Soldiers, Airmen and Marines from across the United States who attended the conference Aug. 15-17 learned about the positive effect well-informed, educated women have in senior leadership roles and how women can positively change their communities.
The global initiative known as Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) was chartered by the Global South (regions of Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and Asia) and adopted by the United Nations in 2000. More than 100 countries, including the United States, have adopted the initiative.
“Tennessee partnered with European Command and the Bulgarian Ministry of Defense on the Women, Peace and Security initiative,” said Lt. Col. Linda Keiser, Tennessee’s WPS lead. “The purpose of this initiative is to maximize recruitment, retention and promoting of women into leadership positions. We are also preparing for the Theater Logistics Readiness training in 2025 in order to encourage more women into Bulgaria’s Joint Logistics Directorate.”
Brig. Gen. Warner Ross, Tennessee’s adjutant general, believes WPS is essential for the growth and sustainment of the Tennessee National Guard.
“Women, Peace and Security is a great opportunity to bring together leaders and discuss a topic that has not received enough attention,” said Ross. “We’re living in a time of a lot of rapid transformations, evolving challenges, and we recognize and try to advance this topic in the role of women; specifically in shaping a peaceful and secure world.”
Devin Cate, Air National Guard executive director, said WPS promotes women’s full and equal participation in peace and security as a prerequisite to sustainable peace. Women have a proven aptitude for building peace coalitions and creating dialogue and compromises among conflicting parties. When men and women collaborate on a peace treaty, it is 35% more likely to last compared to 10% when brokered by men alone.
Two additional facets of WPS address a positive and a negative component for female Soldiers on the battlefield. As seen during the war in Afghanistan, female Soldiers can better interact with noncombatant women. A negative component for female Soldiers is that military equipment is typically designed for men.
“Education is the key to spreading the message about WPS, and having more advocates and spokespeople within our units is the only way to accomplish this,” said Keiser. “The positive roles women play in modern society cannot be overstated.”