USAFE-AFAFRICA Global Health Engagement Team Paves the Way for Flagship GBV Prevention Program in Zambia

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Linda B. Jones
  • U. S. Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa Command Surgeon Office

The U. S. Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa Command Surgeon’s Office sent a team of international health specialists and subject matter experts to Lusaka, Zambia to conduct a workshop on the topics of combat-related sexual violence and Sexual Assault, Prevention and Response.

Dr. Lynn Lieberman Lawry, professor from the Uniformed Services University, led a workshop called Prevention of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, building upon knowledge Zambia Defense Force participants gained from the last phase conducted in February 2024.

“The impact that can be made in cooperation with ZDF is limitless,” Lawry said. “They are engaged and ready to address prevention of gender-based violence and prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse under the Women, Peace and Security objectives for Zambia. During this event, it was incredibly satisfying to realize we met and exceeded our monitoring and evaluation objectives for this phase.”

Lawry emphasized the value of continued engagement with Zambia.

“The constant relationship between the Zambian and U.S. teams have enabled the ZDF to make major strides on WPS objectives,” Lawry said. “The Zambian workshop participants have become colleagues. For me, discussing with ZDF members how to create PGBV and PSEA topics into relatable and interactive learning is exciting, and suggests they will become a Center of Excellence sooner than they think.”

Tech. Sgt. Samara Brown, U.S. Air Force international health specialist and mission leader, recognized the importance of creating an effective and cohesive team. The team she selected was so impactful that the ZDF requested they return for future phases. In addition to Lawry, the team included Capts. Aisha Evans, U.S. Air Force Licensed Clinical Social Worker, and Regina Panting, USAFE-AFAFRICA Deputy Sexual Assault Response Coordinator. Evans facilitated discussions on empathy and implicit bias, steering participants to consider underlying belief systems that can either foster or combat GBV.

Additionally, she and Brown discussed trauma-informed care and techniques for interviewing survivors. Panting led briefings and small group exercises that focused on development of a SAPR program in Zambia, encouraging participants to brainstorm various aspects of policy development. This component of the engagement was very well-received.

“Sexual assault prevention programs in Africa are crucial as they are not just about safeguarding individuals; they’re about reclaiming dignity, restoring trust, and reshaping societal norms,” Panting said. “By championing education, empowerment, and advocacy, we pave the path towards a future where every person, regardless of gender or background, can thrive in safety and respect.”

This event marked the completion of the second of five planned phases for the PGBV program in Zambia.

ZDF Army Col. Cynthia Chimpusa, Director of Civil-Military Cooperation, said, “We are delighted to have the GBV program that has been facilitated by our colleagues from USAFE-AFAFRICA. Recently in Zambia we have had cases of GBV in homes and unfortunately, lives have been lost. ZDF are very grateful and greatly honored to receive this program. We would like to stand up offices with personnel to be able to handle matters pertaining to Sexual Assault, Prevention, and Response. With more programs coming forward from our U.S. partners, ZDF endeavors to improve on the fight against GBV.”

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Linda Jones, chief of Africa Global Health Engagements for USAFE-AFAFRICA SG, highlighted the importance of addressing GBV not only to make nations more secure, but to promote basic human rights.

“The work this team is accomplishing will protect women, men, girls and boys,” Jones said. “GBV affects everyone, all around the world. By partnering with Zambia, we are able to learn from each other and join hands in combatting GBV. We look forward to continuing this partnership with Zambia, advancing towards the shared objective of codifying PGBV in the ZDF. We are honored to work with such a phenomenal group of military professionals, and we have confidence they will fully own and propel this program forward.”