DAF leads the way on Women, Peace and Security Program

  • Published
  • By Keiara Avant, Col. Micaela Brancato and Maj. Tahina Montoya
  • Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Reserve Affairs and Airman Readiness

The Department of the Air Force Women, Peace and Security Program recently reached major milestones by participating in the Department of Defense Gender Advisor training, leading DAF Gender Focal Point, or GFP, training in May 2022, as well as presenting during the Joint Women’s Leadership Symposium in July 2022, at multiple locations.

First introduced to the global stage during the 1995 World Conference on Women held in Beijing, a new priority on Women, Peace and Security recognized how violence and disasters disproportionately affect women and children, and the important role of gender equity in sustaining peace and security around the globe. 

In the U.S., WPS implementation became federal law with the passage of the 2017 Women, Peace and Security Act. Then, in 2019, the White House released its U.S. Strategy on Women, Peace, and Security, which tasked the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, Department of State, and USAID to operationalize WPS principles across their departments. In response, the DoD published its Women, Peace, and Security Strategic Framework and Implementation Plan in June 2020. 

To align with the DoD’s 2020 guidance, the DAF stood up its WPS Program, becoming the first military department to do so. The program is overseen by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, and its governance structure is co-led by Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Reserve Affairs and Airman Readiness Christy Nolta, along with the Secretary of the Air Force Office of Diversity and Inclusion director and Air Force Education and Training Command deputy commander.

“I and my co-leads are very proud of the progress the WPS team has made in our first year,” Nolta said. “We’ve moved out quickly to get after goals and objectives of the program, starting with building a cadre of trained Gender Focal Points and Gender Advisors. Now, as ever, progress in gender parity will help us strengthen our capacity and capability to inform planning, doctrine, training, operations, and to build a resilient force.” 

The DAF WPS Program conducted the first service-led Gender Focal Point course July 5-8, in collaboration with the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. The GFP course is for part-time volunteers assisting with WPS implementation and is a prerequisite for the GENAD course. 

This course certifies graduates as GFPs to advocate and assist in the implementation of WPS in their respective organizations to include incorporating gender perspectives and analysis in their functional roles; conducting appropriate assessments, monitoring, and evaluation of WPS initiatives; delivering WPS training; and further developing and mentoring the gender network. The GFP course is open to all genders, across all functional areas, including DAF civilians, enlisted, and officers.  

A group of 80 students earned course certificates, 45 of whom represented DAF headquarters, three major commands including Air Combat Command, Air Mobility Command, and AETC, three combatant commands including U.S. Southern Command, U.S. Africa Command, and U.S. Cyber Command, across the total force of active-duty, Reserve, and Air National Guard. 

The GFP course was directed by Monica Herrera, USINDOPACOM WPS curriculum developer, and Keiara Avant, DAF WPS program lead, with support from 10 other DAF and USINDOPACOM facilitators serving as current GFPs and GENADs. 

“Having the Department of the Air Force conduct the first component-level training courses to develop Gender Focal Points marks a critical milestone in our ability to operationalize gender perspectives within the planning and conduct of component activities,” said Maj. John McCormick, Strategy, Governance, and Policy, Office of Diversity and Inclusion, one of the 45 DAF students who received the GFP certificate. “The course was eye-opening and it’s exciting to see where Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility initiatives from the talent management perspective can blend into not just readiness but mission planning and security cooperation lines of effort in support of both WPS and the National Gender Strategy.”  

To further promote WPS initiatives, the DAF WPS Program also participated in the 2022 Joint Women’s Leadership Symposium held July 10-13, in Norfolk, Virginia. There, the WPS program led a panel titled “To DoD and Beyond: How to Leverage your Service to Support WPS Initiatives.” 

The panel provided over 350 DAF service members with insights about WPS, why it matters, and how they can get involved in its initiatives. It was moderated by Col. Micaela Brancato, DAF WPS program lead, and included panelists Lt. Col. Duilia Turner, first director of the U.S. Southern Command WPS Program, Dr. Bradford Wineman, professor at U.S. Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and Karine Lepillez, director of Gender Policy and Practice at Navanti Group and professor at the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security.  

“Now is the perfect time to get involved as we continue expanding our gender network and find areas to improve meaningful participation for all DAF members,” Brancato said. “To connect, consider joining the DAF WPS Microsoft Teams page, attend a training, and share this information with your teammates.” 

“There are many areas to consider, whether it’s ensuring multiple perspectives are encouraged and heard in the meeting room or building gender inclusive teams, the DAF WPS gender network is here to assist with resources, training, and metrics,” Brancato said. 

Future plans include the release of a DAF WPS Strategic Action Plan, scheduled for early in fiscal year 2023.  

To learn more about WPS, please consider taking the “Introduction to Women, Peace and Security,” and “Women, Peace, and Security Implementation” courses, available on Joint Knowledge Online using Common Access Card access.