As growing numbers of women undertake increasingly significant roles in law enforcement, security, and counterterrorism, the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Department of State, and the Government of Kenya have joined forces the week of June 27 to July 1, 2022, to host an Africa Regional Symposium on Women in Security.
The gathering, attended by approximately 70 security and law enforcement professionals from eight nations around the globe, amplifies regional and strategic objectives in empowering women as meaningful, essential contributors to security, law enforcement, and counterterrorism. The symposium also provides a forum for women from multiple nations to undertake career-development training, engage in networking opportunities, and bolster the advancement of women in law enforcement while promoting counterterrorism efforts. The symposium includes participants from Ghana, Kenya, Niger, Senegal, and Somalia, as well as Albania, Tunisia, the United Kingdom and the United States.
“The Engaging Multinational Policewomen on Equality and Rights (EMPoWER) program represents the very best of the Department of Justice’s International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP)’s commitment to increasing women’s participation and leadership in law enforcement, which bolsters operational effectiveness, expands police institutions’ abilities to engage local communities, broadens the perspective of operating environments, and strengthens police response to crime,” said ICITAP Director Greg Ducot.
“Building the capacity of our law enforcement partners to respond to terrorist incidents and to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators is a key civilian-led line of effort to counter terrorism,” said Director of Programs Sam Pineda of the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Counterterrorism. “Unfortunately, women in these professions often encounter stereotypes, assumptions, and cultural hurdles that prevent them from being involved. Expanding the roles of women in security widens the pool of talented candidates for these demanding careers and contributes to countering the global terrorism threat, making all of us more secure.”
In addition, the symposium provides opportunities for senior men and women in U.S. and international security careers to have meaningful interactions with women in the security professions in multiple African nations.
Symposium presenters include:
- S. Army Major General Jami C. Shawley, Commander, Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa;
- Supervisory Special Agent Sarah Cloeter, U.S. Department of State Diplomatic Security Service (DSS);
- Laurie Freeman, Deputy Director, Office of Programs, State Department Bureau of Counterterrorism;
- Daniel Wathome, Gender Specialist and Training Coordinator, International Peace Support Training Centre, Nairobi, Kenya; and
- Chief Gina V. Hawkins, Fayetteville Police Department, Fayetteville, North Carolina.
Discussion highlights include:
- An executive panel discussion on “Challenges and Lessons Learned in Achieving Success in a Historically Male Dominant Security Domain;”
- Case studies of women in African security units; and
- Presentations on women in tactical leadership.
“Like Kenya, the United States too has ways to go before we can truly realize the full effect. So, what is the advantage of women in peace and security? Does it help reduce conflict? Yes, it does – absolutely,” said Major General Jami C. Shawley.
The Africa Regional Symposium on Women in Security was organized by: The U.S. Department of Justice’s ICITAP and its Engaging Multinational Policewomen on Equality and Rights (EMPoWER) program; The U.S. Embassy, Nairobi, Kenya; the U.S. Department of State, Diplomatic Security Service’s Antiterrorism Assistance program (DS/ATA); the Department of State Bureau of Counterterrorism (CT); U.S. Department of Defense; the British High Commission; the International Peace Support Training Centre of Kenya, the Kenya National Counter Terrorism Centre; and Kenya’s Administration Police Service.
The EMPoWER program, a partnership between the Departments of Justice and State, builds the capacity of women to combat terrorism by supporting them through leadership opportunities and inclusion in counterterrorism efforts. EMPoWER conducted its first regional symposium in March 2022 in Opatija, Croatia, drawing more than two dozen law enforcement participants from Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Kenya. Additional symposiums are planned for Asia and the Middle East.
The ATA program is the U.S. government’s premier counterterrorism training and equipment provider for foreign law enforcement agencies. As mandated by U.S. Congress, ATA has three foreign policy objectives: to build counterterrorism capacity of partner countries; to enhance bilateral relationships; and to increase respect for human rights.
To learn more about ICITAP’s capacity building programs around the world, visit: https://www.justice.gov/criminal-icitap
To learn more about State CT and ATA: https://www.state.gov/antiterrorism-assistance-program/.