Thursday, March 17, 2016

Laura Douglass
Day 5
Gender Equality in the Military helps all

As a United States Marine I have dealt with gender discrimination in many forms for years. Then once I ended my contract I heard more stories about how my female friends were being discriminated against within the armed services. Throughout this process I have been learning how eliminating that violence will help everyone involved and today was no different.

I began the day at the US Mission with my entire group to support our team member. We heard from many girls and young women about their journeys as women in achieving their goals. However Eleanor Smeal also opened the talk. She addressed a question I had regarding women in the military and praised the Obama administration for strides made in equality. She talked about the goals to recruit better Officer and Enlisted service members and that gender should have no placement on that.

Then after this panel the next one that really hit me was named Advancing Gender-Sensitive Understanding in Countering Violent Extremism Policy and Programming, Especially on Women’s Roles in Violent Extremism. There were 12 panelists from around that world talking about how much women were needed to fight this violent extremism. Specifically the two women in the picture below blew my mind. They are Mara Marinaki EEAS principal advisor on Gender and in United Nations Security Council resolution 1325 and Sarah Sewall, the Under Secretary of State for civilian Security, democracy and Human Rights at the US Department of State. They discussed a White House Summit that they both attended where they began this dialogue. It was an amazing moment to think that I can continue fighting for equal gender rights and that it will help combat the violent extremism in this world that I’m so determined to eliminate.

I just wish that I could have had some of my beautiful friends, that are still in the military fighting the good fight, in these rooms today and hear how the international community is behind them. People of huge stature saying how peace negotiations are more successful with women involved, and how excluding women to combat roles minimizes the pool of good applicants for the military, which is why the combat roles were expanded. They need to hear it. So if you are reading this and you know a female veteran or service member, tell them that changes are coming, and to continue trail blazing for peace and security.

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