JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas –
A global effort that aims to empower women and examine the needs of women and children in conflict is gaining momentum at the Inter-American Air Forces Academy at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland as the schoolhouse begins the process to expand the presence of Women, Peace, and Security themes into the academy’s education and training operations.
The Women, Peace, and Security Act, signed into law in 2017, identifies women as critical to conflict resolution and maintaining peace. The legislation also promotes women’s participation in all aspects of overseas conflict prevention, management and resolution.
Similar to the legislation, the U.S. strategy on WPS aims to promote the meaningful participation of women. The strategy states that, “Governments that fail to treat women equally do not allow their societies to reach their full potential while societies that empower women to participate fully in civic and economic life are more prosperous.”
Jennifer Typrowicz, U.S. Southern Command’s Gender Advisor, visited IAAFA Feb. 10. She met with Col. José Jiménez Jr., IAAFA commandant; Chief Master Sgt. Emilio Avila, IAAFA senior enlisted leader; and the academy’s WPS working group to discuss SOUTHCOM’s priorities and help grow the program into the academy’s curriculum.
“To have a stronger and more effective team, you must have integrated teams with men and women,” Typrowicz said. “We want to be more operationally effective, we want to reduce the blind spots, and this is one way to accomplish that.”
Typrowicz toured the academy, looked at resources and spoke to students to get a better understanding of the schoolhouse and its operational environment.
“Just walking around and seeing how every classroom is made up of male and female instructors, WPS is already being integrated on a daily basis … this is huge,” Typrowicz said.
IAAFA leaders are currently exploring the expansion of WPS into each of the academy’s core tasks, which include technical training, aircrew training and professional military education, bringing together international military students from partner nations.
According to WPS working group lead, Master Sgt. Keyla Watt, the plan is to weave WPS, human rights, and diversity and inclusion into each of the academy’s courses and via a “WPS module” that can be presented throughout the cycle.
“Our strategy is for international students and visiting senior officers to witness the invaluable contributions women provide in all key organizational roles, from senior group leadership to tactical leaders in the classroom,” Watt said. “[This will allow] them to see first-hand the enormous benefits of fully embracing diversity of thought and perspective to achieve national and regional security cooperation objectives.”
Ultimately, integrating different perspectives will mean achieving a new capability at IAAFA. Typrowicz said she appreciated her visit to IAAFA because it brought WPS to another level.
“What makes IAAFA unique is that it’s not only integrated teams of men and women, but its men and women from different countries applying their cultural perspectives, too,” she said.
Editor’s note: To learn more about the SOUTHCOM WPS Program, go to https://www.southcom.mil/WPS/.