A Quick Guide to the Women, Peace, and Security Act

   •    June 16, 2016

Halifax Forum

Photo: David Maiolo

“The benefits of women’s participation—and the risks of their exclusion—in all aspects of governance and peacekeeping are too great to ignore.” That was the sentiment expressed recently by Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) at a historic House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on advancing women’s inclusion in peace and security.

Today, we commend the committee for putting those words into action by passing the Women, Peace, and Security Act.

For the last four years, Inclusive Security Action has worked with congressional champions to move the Women, Peace, and Security Act forward. The bill was recently updated and reintroduced with strong bipartisan support in the House of Representatives by Congresswoman Kristi Noem (R-SD), Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Chairman Royce (R-CA), and Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY). We thank these co-sponsors, as well as the other members who helped advance the bill, including its original supporters: Niki Tsongas (D-MA), Mike Honda (D-CA), and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX).

What’s It About?

In a recent op-ed in The Hill, I explained why this bill is so critical. The systematic exclusion of women from peace and security decision making hurts the US government’s ability to address the many global national security and foreign policy challenges that our country confronts. Decades of research proves: from negotiating a peace agreement in Syria to combating the spread of ISIS, women’s inclusion must be a core priority.

The Women, Peace, and Security Act would, among other things:

  • Place a Women, Peace, and Security Strategy into law, ensuring that a US National Action Plan—like the one launched by President Obama in 2011—continues to be US policy no matter who is in the White House;
  • Require the president to provide reports to Congress that evaluate US diplomatic and foreign assistance vis-à-vis women’s participation;
  • Make an official statement that it is US policy to promote the meaningful participation of women in all aspects of conflict prevention, management, and resolution;
  • Mandate training for US defense, diplomatic, and development personnel on the value of women’s inclusion and strategies for achieving it; and
  • Require the Secretary of State and USAID Administrator to establish guidelines for overseas personnel to ensure women’s meaningful participation in consultations with key stakeholders on preventing and resolving conflict.

What’s Next?

After being approved today in the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the bill may next come before the full House of Representatives for consideration. Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Mark Kirk (R-IL), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) have also introduced similar legislation in the Senate. As Inclusive Security’s Director, Jacqueline O’Neill, testified to the House Foreign Affairs Committee in March: If passed, this bill will be “a clear statement from Congress that women’s inclusion is a foreign policy imperative.”

How Can I Help?

Reach out to your members of Congress and urge them to support the Women, Peace, and Security Act by calling the Capitol switchboard at 202.224.3121. By taking this small step, you can help create and maintain peace and stability around the globe.

Allison Peters is Senior Policy Adviser at Inclusive Security and previously served as a foreign policy and defense adviser in the US Senate.

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