Women, Peace and Security
Instilling a genuine essence of peace throughout a world plagued by violence, war and insecurity cannot be done without the empowerment and utilization of half of the world’s population. For far too long peace negotiations have ceased to utilize women’s valued experiences and voices throughout the process. The U.S. National Security Strategy notes, “experiences shows that countries are more peaceful and prosperous when women are accorded full and equal rights to opportunity.”1 The United Sates must be a strong hold in ensuring dedication to proactive and responsive efforts promoting security and resolutions to conflict while helping rebuild societies that foster liberty and justice for all. In October of 2000 the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 1325 as the international community made a stand for recognizing women’s dynamic and important, yet underutilized, contributions to ending conflict and ensuring peace.2 Since it’s implementation, multiple countries and regional bodies launched National Action Plans and policies that upheld the goals of the international effort. On the 10th anniversary of Resolution 1325, in December of 2011, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, announced the United States’ commitment to a National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security that was signed by President Obama as Executive Order 13595.3 Since the NAP’s release multiple policies and legislative action on Capitol Hill have been put into order as reinforcement to the United States’ commitment to the essential effort of empowerment and sustained, equitable peace.4 In the wake of economic and political instability, elevated violence and deadly conflict in transitioning Nations in the Middle East and around the world, it is critical to stress the importance of the U.S. Government maintaining the National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security for lasting and just peace.
Nature and Magnitude of the Problem:
The end of conflict and war does not ensure peace for the days far after. More than half of all peace agreements in a post conflict area fail within just ten years of signature and violence rages on.5 The missing component to peace accords is the inclusion of women in the process. We can turn to the validity of history, where women all over the world have inserted critical issues into the talks that negotiators had previously ignored when they were excluded from the decision making process. By excluding the voices and concerns of women who risk their lives, endured violence and supported their communities through tragedy we lose a resource in effective and sustainable change. Within societies that lack women in leadership roles in the peace making process and oppress women societally because of traditional notions of gender roles, there is a loss of the ability of holistically healing and rebuilding damaged communities. Maintaining genuine peace means providing security for basic services, building trust among opposing parties, stimulating institutions that can uphold the rule of law, and promoting legitimately elected leadership.6 The role of women as peacemakers, helps promote democratic governance and long-term stability in the best interest of international security.
Inclusive security is not a “women’s issue.” This is a matter of magnitude that effects us all. The United States National Action Plan is guided by the principle of inclusion of the wide variety of stake holders in advocating the women, peace and security agenda. Women and girls, men and boys, all members of marginalized groups, including youth, ethnic, racial or religious minorities, persons with disabilities, displaced persons and indigenous peoples, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals, and people from all socioeconomic strata are effected.7 Women bridge divides between unlikely groups and are adept at mobilizing diverse...
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