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a picture of a group of participants and uniform soldiers standing in front of a gold soldier statue

Oct 31, 2023


The Institute for Security Governance (ISG) recently partnered with the Office of Defense Cooperation, U.S. Embassy Colombia, and the Colombian Vice Ministry of Defense for Human Rights to deliver a five-day seminar on Women’s Integration into the Armed Forces in Bogota, Colombia. 

This seminar is an integral part of ISG’s Mobile Education Team (MET) educational initiatives, where experts from the Institute engage in bilateral courses that typically span 1–2 weeks and are tailored to the specific national and regional context. The composition of participants in these courses varies depending on the topic and method of delivery. 

For this particular MET in Colombia, the 35 seminar participants included low-to-mid level leaders representing various agencies within the Colombian Armed Forces. This diverse group encompassed officers and non-commissioned officers from the Army, Navy, and Air Force, as well as individuals from the Ministry of Defense and the National Police. Notably, the course consisted of 11 male and 24 female participants. 

This marked the third occasion where ISG delivered a seminar on Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) for the Government of Colombia within the past three years. As with past engagements, the objective of the seminar was to provide an overview of WPS principles, to examine the current state of gender equality and women’s participation in the defense/security sector in Colombia, and to explore barriers/opportunities for increasing women’s participation in the future.

Colombia has made significant progress on the WPS agenda, supporting gender equality in its constitution, integrating women into the security sector, and referencing WPS in national security documents. However, Colombia has yet to adopt a National Action Plan on WPS. Consequently, during their stay in Bogota, the ISG Team engaged with leaders from the Office of the Vice-Minister of Defense in discussions concerning the development and implementation of a National Action Plan on WPS for Colombia. Their commitment to providing ongoing support for this endeavor was also reaffirmed. 

The seminar fostered lively, inclusive, and productive discussions between participants and instructors, thereby successfully cultivating a dynamic learning environment for all involved. The culmination of the seminar featured a capstone activity, during which participants collaboratively identified priority areas for focus, pinpointed existing barriers, and devised solutions to facilitate the integration of women into the Colombian security forces. 

Following the resounding success of this engagement, ISG’s Colombian partners are keen to explore a fourth installment of the WPS MET program in FY2024. As envisaged by the Colombians, next year’s prospect may include the addition of a second week of instruction, which would feature a Senior Leader Seminar combined with a dedicated seminar for Gender Advisors and Gender Focal Points. In this extended second week, there is an opportunity to transform the delivery into a Train-the-Trainer engagement. This would allow Colombian instructors to take the lead in preparing Gender Advisors and Gender Focal Points for their essential roles within the Colombian security sector. 

To learn more about ISG’s WPS activities, check out the following primer: ISG and Women, Peace, and Security.