Stronger,  Safer,  With Her, American Diplomats Advocate for Women in Security & Foreign Policy

Photo Caption: Diplomats from the U.S. Consulate Chennai, State Department Overseas Advisory Council members, and those participating in the Women in Security Networking Meeting in Chennai hosted by Cognizant Corporate Security on Friday, March 22, 2024.

CHENNAI, MARCH 27:  American Diplomats from U.S. Consulate General Chennai opened the first Women in Security (WiS) networking forum conducted by the U.S. Department of State’s Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) Chennai Chapter with host Cognizant Corporate Security in Chennai on March 22.  OSAC is a public-private partnership between the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) and private sector security professionals to promote security cooperation, trainings, consultations, events, alerts, and analysis.  To effectuate, OSAC fosters a global consortium of diplomatic and corporate security professionals – operating abroad – who exchange timely information and security best practices to mitigate risks to U.S. interests worldwide.

In commemoration of Women’s History Month, the networking event welcomed over 50 women in security from law enforcement, corporate, and academia to meet panelists Senior Manager Business Continuity Philips International B.V., Catherine Cecillia Vincent; Brio Integrated Services Chairperson and Managing Director (CMD) Sree Vidhya; as well as American diplomats—Regional Security Officer Scott Schonauer, Political/Economic Chief Virsa Perkins, and Spokesperson Samantha Jackson from U.S. Consulate General Chennai.  The open discourse promoted the success of women in security and foreign policy, women economic empowerment, resilience in security operations despite under representation, corporate security infrastructure, cybersecurity, and intelligence.

Photo Caption: Diplomatic Security Regional Security Officer (RSO) Scott Schonauer from the U.S. Consulate General in Chennai with participants at the Women in Security Networking Meeting in Chennai on Friday, March 22, 2024.

During prefatory remarks, Diplomatic Security Regional Security Officer (RSO) Scott Schonauer from U.S. Consulate General Chennai said, “There has been a paradigm shift within the security field where women are making significant contributions in important roles throughout security operations worldwide.  This event is about making and building meaningful relationships in a hard job that matters. 

“The Diplomatic Security Service founded the OSAC Women in Security Networking Group in 2017 to create a supportive community for women in the security field.  Since then, it has grown steadily, and events like this demonstrate the global reach to promote gender equality and inclusiveness in the security industry.”

U.S. Political and Economic Chief Virsa Perkins, speaking on shattering inequalities, men allyship, and women, peace, and political security said, “We celebrate Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day in March, and this year’s theme is ‘Invest in Women, Accelerate Progress.’  It is very important to invest in ecosystems and infrastructures that support women in the workplace.  One thing that the Biden-Harris administration has really capitalized on has been inextricably linking women’s security to overall well-being of societies where women are safe and secure.”

Brio Integrated Services CMD Sree Vidhya in her chief guest address said, “Though we have a long way to go in terms of diversity and inclusivity in the field of Security, WiS in Chennai is encouraging and is a sign of great progress.”  

OSAC Chennai Chapter Steering Committee member Ritika Roy in her welcome address said, “Corporate Security has been a male-dominated field for the longest time.  It is exciting and encouraging to see women beginning to break this monopoly.  The field offers many opportunities waiting to be explored.”    

OSAC India Chennai Chapter Private co-chair John Paul Manickam said WiS celebrates diversity and inclusion in the security industry.  Adding, “we want to mentor young women to advance their careers in private-sector security roles and to advance gender equality and leadership opportunities.  We are proud Chennai is the first to create a WiS sub-committee in India.”  

The OSAC India Chennai Chapter co-chaired by RSO Schonauer and Cognizant’s John Paul Manickam – Associate Director, Joint Security Intelligence Center (JSIC), is one of the oldest Chapters in India, and most active chapter around the globe due to its diverse engagement with the Security and student fraternity, U.S. Department of State partnership, and Chennai Police.  The Chennai chapter is the first to have women on the steering committee and to host a WiS subcommittee, receiving many awards for its excellence in engaging the Security fraternity and leading Diversity & Inclusivity (D&I) initiatives.

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