#CRomnibus: 5 Ways Congress Advanced Women’s Leadership That You May Not Know

   •    December 19, 2014

After a year of intense advocacy and negotiating, Inclusive Security Action helped secure five critical provisions in the combined FY 2015 congressional spending bill signed into law this month by President Barack Obama.

An all-female class marches into a ceremony celebrating their graduation from the Afghan National Army’s Officer Candidate School. (Photo: NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan)

1. $25 million for recruiting and retaining women in the Afghan National Security Forces

Congress designated at least $25 million to bolster the ranks of women in the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). The ANSF, of which women comprise less than one percent, continues to wage a critical battle against insurgents. Female security and law enforcement personnel can vastly improve operational effectiveness. They’re needed for the full range of responsibilities the ANSF fulfills, and are essential for roles only females can undertake, including to protecting women-only polling stations during elections, conducting body searches of female suicide bombers, and effectively collecting intelligence in local communities. Inclusive Security Action staff advocated to Congress for this continued funding, which will ensure female security forces have the equipment and training they need to advance stability and security.

Syrian women at a protest in solidarity with political prisoners and detainees in 2011. (Photo: SyriaFreedom)

2. Promoting women’s inclusion in Syria negotiations

Congress noted the importance of expanding the role of women in negotiations to end the violence in Syria and advance any political transition. As Inclusive Security staff recently noted in an article for TIME, women are critical to combatting terrorism in Syria and reviving a sustainable peace process. This year, Inclusive Security convened a delegation of prominent Syrian leaders to meet with policymakers gathered at the UN General Assembly, where they advocated for concrete steps to construct a more inclusive political process, improve humanitarian access, and strengthen protections for human rights in Syria. Their full recommendations can be found here.

A woman votes in Indonesia’s 2009 presidential election. (Photo: Australia Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade)

3. Investing $50 million in women’s leadership around the globe

At this year’s UN General Assembly, President Obama committed to continue US support for women’s inclusion in decision making. To finance these efforts, Congress has once again made at least $50 million in funding available for programs that increase women’s leadership opportunities around the globe. This money will bolster their participation in political parties and elections, and increase their opportunities for leadership positions in the public and private sectors.

A policewoman receives training from the US Embassy in Islamabad. (Photo: US Embassy/Pakistan)

4. Expanding the ranks of policewomen in Pakistan

Through policy briefs, articles, and high-level delegations from Pakistan, Inclusive Security has supported women’s recruitment and professionalization in the Pakistani police forces. They currently comprise only about one percent of the country’s law enforcement agencies. Swelling the ranks of policewomen can help counter violent extremism and terrorism, like the horrific attack on a military school in Peshawar earlier this week. For the first time ever, Congress explicitly authorized funding to recruit, retain, and professionalize women in police forces throughout Central and South Asia, including Pakistan.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announces the US National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security, in December 2011. (Photo: Georgetown University)

5. Advancing implementation of the US National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security

The FY 2015 bill authorized funding to further implementation of the US National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security (PDF). Inclusive Security has been at the forefront of pushing for strong and effective whole-of-government strategies across the globe to advance women’s inclusion in building and sustaining peace and security.

Through this meaningful support, Congress has taken several important steps forward to prevent and end deadly conflicts. Inclusive Security thanks the many champions on Capitol Hill who continue to advance this critical mission.

To read more about some of Inclusive Security’s work with Congress this year, click here.

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