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

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