24 April 2019
Members of Pacific military forces have banded together for the first Pacific Military Women’s Advisory Network seminar.
Members of the Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Australia, and New Zealand a military and police forces attended the seminar, which was organised by the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) and held on 23-24 April in Suva, Fiji.
Seminar organiser Squadron Leader Libby Reardon said the NZDF responsibility to the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (on women, peace and security) was to support change across the Pacific, and the Women’s Advisory Network was intended to connect serving female members, provide a forum for information exchange, support, mentor and enhance operational capabilities.
“This first event has encouraged regular collaboration and cooperation toward overcoming the barriers for implanting R1325, and to appreciate the wider regional and global trends that continue to influence our legal and moral obligations,” Squadron Leader Reardon said.
Sharon Bhagwan-Rolls, a Fijian political commentator and member of Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict, was one of the speakers who provided a regional and global perspective and said the event was an important one to implement Resolution 1325.
“Sharing such diverse views across the forum is helpful as we look to support women’s leadership in all aspects of peacekeeping, peace support and peacebuilding, and to build on women’s experience and expertise,” Ms Bhagwan-Rolls said.
Colonel Siale Diro, of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force, had a simple message:
“The enduring proposition is very simple – a defence force will never realise its full potential without the inclusion and empowerment of its female citizens,” Colonel Diro said.
Squadron Leader Reardon said the event would be the first of many as the NZDF continued to support Pacific militaries to optimise their operational effectiveness.
“True operational effectiveness relies on noting changes to gendered patterns of life, to providing reporting mechanisms for gender-based violence against men, women, boys and girls and encouraging the wider participation of women across the security sector, to diversify the perspectives available throughout the peace and security process,” she said.