Obama Unveils National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security
Yesterday, President Obama released a first-ever National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security, which instructs agencies across the government to intergrate a gender persepctive in all matters relating to peace and security.
The plan's goal is to "empower half of the world's population as equal partners in preventing conflict and building peace in countries threatened and affected by war, violence, and insecurity." The NAP recognizes that long-term peace and stability cannot be maintained without the particpation of women.
Some of the plan's implementation steps mirror key recommendations found in the Partnership for Effective Peacekeeping's report, "U.S. Engagement in International Peacekeeping: From Aspiration to Implementation." For example, the NAP advocates for women to be considered for more senior level positions at the U.N. The peacekeeping report also identified a shortage of women in higher posts and called for this problem to be corrected.
The NAP calls for leveraging the participation of female U.S. military personnel to encourage and model gender intergration in other partner nations. The peacekeeping report takes this a step further and suggests that the U.S. engage with our own military and training institutions to increase the role of U.S. women in peacekeeping operations.
The NAP also identifies addressing sexual and gender based violence (SGVB) and sexual exploitation abuse (SEA) as critical. It states, "No society can restore peace or stability when its population lives in daily fear of rape or other sexual assault." The peacekeeping report also discussed this challenge, and found that women have a special role to play in preventing SGBV and SEA, making victims more comfortable with reporting abuse and building community capacity to maintain security structures.
Secretary Clinton, in a speech describing the plan stressed that women need to be more involved in peacekeeping, governments, and civil society saying, ""Women in peacekeeping is both the right thing to do, and the smart thing as well." She also noted, "The empowerment of women is the future of peacekeeping around the world because they speak up for other marginalized groups."
The NAP is a great move forward in illustrating the important role women have to play in peace and security. While it's an encouraging first step, its focus is to project gender intergration in trainings to women in other countries and partner nations. We have many talents to offer in this area, but we can also hone these skills for our own women here and serving abroad. As Secretary Clinton emphasized, "Women are not just the victims of war. They are agents of peace."
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