For decades, American diplomats have supported women as leaders in efforts to prevent conflict, counter terrorism and violent extremism, and promote security around the world. In 2017, the United States became the first government in the world to enact comprehensive legislation on the role of women in peace and security, which the Department of State is committed to fully operationalizing through its Plan to Implement the U.S. Strategy on Women, Peace, and Security. The Department of State’s efforts include a range of initiatives:
Advancing Women’s Leadership in Peace and Security
- The Department is supporting women’s leadership in countering terrorism and violent extremism in Afghanistan, Iraq, Jordan, and the Philippines as well as regional efforts in East and West Africa, South Asia, and the Western Balkans. These programs focus on building women’s capacity to lead change in their communities, such as by enabling women leaders in police and civil society to engage local authorities on countering violent extremism (CVE) policy and local communities to identify, and act upon, early warning signs of terrorist radicalization to violence. These and other programs also are building the capacity of women police officers to investigate and respond to terrorism.
- A growing number of women are participating in Women, Peace, and Security-focused projects through the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP). Since 2017, more than 1,800 women have participated in projects focused on related themes. These participants gain skills allowing them to focus on a variety of issues including political participation, addressing gender-based violence (GBV), advancing leadership in human rights, and advocacy in the justice system. Of these, 248 women participated in a special Women Leaders Promoting Peace and Security IVLP initiative.
- The Department is enhancing women’s meaningful participation in political processes, peace efforts, and peace operations by strengthening UN Security Council peacekeeping mission mandates and advocating for gender analysis in mission reporting. In addition, our investment in training for women is increasing deployments of women peacekeepers through the International Police Peacekeeping Operations Support (IPPOS) program and the Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI). In the last two years alone, GPOI partners have increased the number of military women deployed by 17 percent and currently account for 78 percent of military women deployed in UN peace operations. Also, since 2017, IPPOS has delivered 13 command-level courses with increased focus on the important impact women police officers can bring to the mission area. In an effort to reduce barriers to participation in UN missions, the command course also focuses on how to effectively manage and lead mixed gender formed police units.
Promoting the Safety, Human Rights, and Dignity of Women and Girls
- By supporting women and girls’ safety, security, and access to justice, the Department is helping survivors recover and preventing occurrences of abuse. The Department is funding the development of a publicly available set of Women, Peace, and Security indicators that can be integrated in early warning systems globally to enhance their predictive capacities. Since 2017, the Department’s Voices Against Violence Initiative has provided emergency assistance to more than 1,000 survivors of extreme forms of GBV.
- Through the Safe from the Start initiative, our investments are improving humanitarian systems with programming on preparedness, training and mentorship for GBV first responders, and incorporating GBV risk reduction and safety mechanisms. This Initiative has built institutional response for strengthened and swifter action on addressing GBV from the onset of humanitarian emergencies.
- The Department supports the United States’ historic legacy of promoting transitional justice and accountability for sexual violence in conflict. We have invested in human rights documentation for abuses in countries such as Burma, The Gambia, Iraq, Sudan, South Sudan, and Syria and mobilized international support for national transitional justice and specialized criminal justice mechanisms, such as the African Union (AU) Hybrid Court for South Sudan, the Special Criminal Court in the Central African Republic, and the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. We continue to support domestic efforts that address the needs of victims of sexual violence in Colombia, Guatemala, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Improving Effectiveness by Enhancing our Internal Capabilities
- The Department is reviewing its training materials in areas such as: conflict prevention, mitigation, and resolution; protecting civilians from violence, exploitation, and trafficking in persons; and international human rights law and international humanitarian law. We are revising them, where appropriate, to include a greater focus on women, peace, and security including efforts toward ensuring meaningful participation by women.
- The Instability Monitoring and Analysis Platform, launched in 2019, includes real-time data on violence against women and girls. Although this form of violence remains underreported, systematically including available information in analysis ensures policymakers are informed on how conflict affects women and girls.
- As the lead federal agency for U.S. stabilization efforts, the Department is integrating the needs and perspectives of women in stabilization analysis, planning, and implementation by addressing women’s safety, empowerment, and meaningful participation across efforts to stabilize conflict-affected countries.
Expanding Global Collaboration and Partnerships
- In the United States’ first-ever bilateral partnership on Women, Peace, and Security, the Department is supporting the Government of Colombia to develop a National Action Plan on WPS and foster deeper collaboration with civil society. In addition, the Department also provides support to the Kroc Institute to help real-time monitoring of Colombia’s peace accord, including provisions on women’s empowerment and political participation.
- The Department is promoting efforts to prioritize women’s meaningful participation in decision-making in peace processes, security institutions and recovery efforts in the Middle East by co-convening with the Government of Poland a Working Group on Human Rights that focused on Women, Peace, and Security themes as part of the Warsaw Process on Security in the Middle East. More than 50 countries attended the first high-level working group meeting hosted in Washington, D.C. in 2019. The two-day event featured women human rights defenders from Syria and Yemen as well as panelists and senior officials from the United States and partners highlighting the importance of promoting greater women’s involvement in all aspects of the conflict continuum, economic empowerment and security initiatives in the Middle East.
- Through multilateral engagement, the Department is marshalling action and cooperation on Women, Peace, and Security among governments. By promoting the adoption of national Women, Peace, and Security policies, we have highlighted best practices and called for greater action at multilateral bodies, including the Global Focal Points Network on Women, Peace, and Security, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), UN bodies, and the Warsaw Process on Security in the Middle East.