The U.S. Institute of Peace, in partnership with Partners for Democratic Change, hosted a public event on January 19th  highlighting the challenges faced by militaries in the 21st century regarding the role of women in modern armed forces and how to bring authentic gender mainstreaming into the military. Additionally, panelists discussed the role that civil society can play in security sector transformation, especially as it pertains to gender.

Panel I: Gender Mainstreaming in the Military
Among the challenges faced by militaries in the 21st century has been the influx of female soldiers and a debate about gender roles in a military context. This challenge has been coupled with an international focus on eradicating gender based violence particularly during conflict. Senior leaders and policymakers have struggled to deal with related conceptual and practical issues.

How to train gender sensitive armed forces and bring authentic gender mainstreaming to the military? What roles can women play in modern armed forces? What are the ingredients of an effective gender approach, and what else can be done beyond mere training measures? The members of this panel discussed their perspectives on these questions by sharing the experiences of the United States as well as European and African militaries.


  • Lieutenant Colonel Shannon Beebe
    U.S. Department of Defense
  • Colonel Birame Diop
    Institute Director
    African Institute for Security Sector Transformation
  • Colonel David Walton
    Department Chief
    Directorate of Regional Studies and Education, U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School
  • Major Stephanie R. Ahern, Discussant
    U.S. Army
  • Kathleen Kuehnast, Moderator
    Director, Gender and Peacebuilding Center
    U.S. Institute of Peace

Panel II: Civil society and security sector reform
Gender mainstreaming has been only one part of a global agenda to make security sector actors more accountable, transparent, and representative. Civil society, long a watchdog of the security sector, is increasingly partnering with governments to implement reforms through citizen oversight councils and trainings on human rights, gender and protection of minorities for the armed forces, including peacekeepers.

The panelists discussed the role civil society plays in security sector transformation from the perspectives of active programs in the field and the donor and policy environment needed to support this kind of work throughout the world.


  • Michael Bittrick
    Deputy Director, Office of Regional and Security Affairs, Bureau of African Affairs
    U.S. Department of State
  • Michael Hess
    Vice President for Global Accounts
    L-3 Communications/MPRI
  • Teresa Crawford
    Partners for Democratic Change
  • Betty Reardon, Discussant
    Consultant and Founding Director Emeritus
    International Institute on Peace Education, Columbia University
  • Robert Perito, Moderator
    Director, Security Sector Governance Center
    U.S. Institute of Peace

Explore Further

In the News

Related Publications

In Senegal’s War-Torn Casamance, a Dialogue Builds Stability

In Senegal’s War-Torn Casamance, a Dialogue Builds Stability

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

By: Boucar Baba Ndiaye

Senegal, one of West Africa’s most stable countries, is a key partner in countering extremism, military coups and other violence in the Sahel and in coastal states. Yet Senegal’s democracy and stability face challenges, notably the 40-year insurgency in the Casamance region. As Senegal attempts political and security reforms to build peace there, a community dialogue process in one Casamance town is helping improve security. Local dialogues—among communities, government officials and security forces—offer an efficient method for Senegal and its partners to heal conflict, bolster Senegal’s stability and counter West Africa’s slippage toward violence.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & GovernanceFragility & Resilience

Dialogues nationaux sur la consolidation de la paix et les transitions créativité et pensée adaptative

Dialogues nationaux sur la consolidation de la paix et les transitions créativité et pensée adaptative

Monday, December 13, 2021

By: Elizabeth Murray;  Susan Stigant

Dans le meilleur des cas, les processus de dialogue national promettent d’apporter un élan décisif à la transformation inclusive du conflit. Ce rapport examine les dialogues dans six pays: la République Centrafricaine, le Kenya, le Liban, le Sénégal, la Tunisie et le Yémen. Ces divers processus montrent les possibilités de favoriser le dialogue, de forger des accords et de progresser vers la paix; et le rapport offre des conseils détaillés sur les possibilités et les aspects pratiques pour ceux qui envisagent d'organiser un dialogue national.

Type: Peaceworks

Mediation, Negotiation & Dialogue

In Casamance, Dialogue Helps Battle Coronavirus and Build Trust

In Casamance, Dialogue Helps Battle Coronavirus and Build Trust

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

By: Anthony Navone;  Adam Gallagher

The Casamance region of Senegal has been wracked by conflict since 1982, when an insurgency sought independence over social and cultural grievances with the Senegalese government. Nearly four decades later, the unresolved conflict has frayed the relationship between security forces and Casamance’s citizens, disintegrating the trust that once existed. But, this March, as the coronavirus was spreading around the globe, dialogues between youth leaders, security forces, civilian authorities, and other local stakeholders in the town of Goudomp helped to rebuild ties between security forces and the community and foster cooperation to combat COVID-19.

Type: Blog

Global HealthJustice, Security & Rule of Law

View All Publications