Various African military officials next month will travel to Washington, D.C., to learn how and why—from the Obama Administration’s perspective—they should encourage more women to join their armed services. Not only will the U.S. Department of Defense host the event, but it will even pick up the hotel tab for dozens of conference attendees.
The “Gender Mainstreaming in the African Armed Forces Workshop” will take place at a still-unspecified location in the nation’s capitol, according to a Performance Work Statement, or PWS, that The Patriot Update recently located.
This event comes at a time when the Obama Administration separately plans to spend about $74 million to conduct an international “gender equality” assessment, which will include data collection on transgendered persons (See: “Global Gender/Transgender Equality Plan to Cost Millions”; Aug. 9, 2012).
DOD’s Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS)—led by William M. Bellamy, former U.S. ambassador to Kenya under President George W. Bush—will address the issue of gender parity among a group of about forty-four participants, including organizers and guest speakers.
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency is coordinating advanced preparations for the workshop, which will require a contractor to coordinate or provide the equivalent of 178 “room nights” of lodging, registration room space, meals, and “support and services, as requested,” according to the PWS document.
“The US government will pay the hotel bill for up to 35 participants,” it continued. “There will be a second, smaller group of up to 9 guests who will pay their bills separately.”
It did not disclose the identity of planned participants or their nations of origin—and therefore did not distinguish which attendees are staying in Washington, D.C., courtesy of U.S. taxpayers.
The Africa Center, as ACSS also is known, says its mission is to support DOD and U.S. government-wide efforts “to counter ideological support of terrorism, foster regional cooperation on security issues, promote democracy, and assist African nations in improving their security and strengthening their defense establishments.”
ACSS and the U. S. Africa Command previously supported a gender-mainstreaming initiative in the African nation of Senegal, whose armed forces slowly are incorporating females into military careers.
The organizations Partners-Senegal and The African Institute of Security Sector Transformation subsequently released a case study about that July 2010 gathering, concluding that additional gains already have been made.
These gains are evidenced by “the creation of a set of legal guidelines to help provide the direction for the increased inclusion of women” in the Senegalese Armed Forces, the study said. Furthermore, “300 additional women have been recruited into the Senegalese armed forces” in the aftermath of the workshop. Likewise, Senegal at that time was expecting to celebrate its first female officer, “a woman who has been trained at the U.S. Air Force Academy.”
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, during her visit to Senegal earlier this month, separately criticized Americans who insist that the U.S. “should just focus on America’s immediate economic or security interests.” Clinton described such people as “shortsighted” for failing to recognize the Obama Administration’s efforts in Africa and elsewhere.
“Democracies are by far the strongest and most stable partners,” she said in prepared remarks for that visit. “So this isn’t altruism. This is a strategic commitment to shared prosperity, to common security.”
The Africa Center has scheduled the new workshop for the week of September 10-15.