Story by American Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael O'Brien, JFC Naples Public Affairs
LAGO PATRIA, Italy – JFC Naples hosted distinguished representatives from the African Union's FemWise-Africa network at a workshop titled "Empowering Women in Leadership to improve Stability" here October 15 to 18.
FemWise-Africa is a network of African women involved in conflict-prevention and mediation, created in 2017.
The workshop focused on women's leadership and advocacy and an array of inspirational female speakers and facilitators supported the event.
"We're having a symposium here today that builds a bridge between gender equality in Africa and gender equality in NATO," said American Navy Admiral James Foggo. "The African Union calls this FemWise and it's so important in regards to peace and security because peace and security is not just a single gender issue; it involves everybody."
Also attending the conference was Clare Hutchinson, NATO Secretary General's Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security; Uganda's Senior Director for Fragility, Conflict, and Violence at the World Bank Betty Bigombe; and Tunisia's Executive Director of the Institute for Human Development Dr. Jeblaoui.
"By having women's voices heard by society, we can ensure than the other 50% of the population is represented," said Hutchinson. "We need to deploy more women on the ground, where they are engaged."
The conference was a joint NATO Strategic Direction South Hub (NSD-S HUB) and African Union Commission (AUC) Workshop for FemWise – Africa Members.
For over a decade NATO has worked collaboratively with the African Union to promote regional stability.
NATO believes that stability, security, and peace can only flourish when women are empowered to work together with their governments, own communities and internationally in diplomacy, conflict prevention and mediation.
The NSD-S HUB is a framework to better understand challenges and threats emanating from Africa and the Middle East and improve NATO's awareness and understanding of the opportunities and challenges from those regions, while contributing to the overall coordination of NATO's activities and efforts.