Increasing Women’s Participation In Peace And Security Processes


Lillian Wetherspoon

 

Two weeks ago the United States of America House of Representatives passed the Women, Peace and Security Act. This act is a historic step towards incorporating women into strategies for both preventing and resolving conflicts, and pledges that the US will act as a global leader for increasing women’s participation in peace processes. In 2011, Hilary Clinton developed a National Action Plan aimed at promoting broader integration of women into the US peace-building efforts, which was implemented by Barack Obama. The Women, Peace and Security Act is meant to build on this National Action Plan. This legislation requires the US to develop a government-wide strategy, including efforts to train its personnel in order to increase the number of women participating in peace and security processes. Congressman Keating emphasised the importance of this legislation stating that it “will help to make certain that the inclusion of women in security and peacemaking is not just an initiative taken up by individual presidents, but a long-term United States national security priority.”

This move is based on the growing body of research and literature which has shown a strong correlation between women’s participation in peace and security processes and the reduction of conflict and increase in stability. In short, when women participate in peace and security processes, a more stable peace can be created. By encouraging women to participate in these processes, different perspectives and experiences are brought to the forefront. Women have different experiences in conflict and it is important that their issues receive the same attention as others. Furthermore, women tend to advocate for other aspects of peace, such as social development.

However, while there is a growing recognition for importance of women in peace and security processes, their participation still remains low. Between 1992 and 2011, women served as less than 4% of signatories to peace agreements and 9% of negotiators. In 2015, they represented only 3% of United Nations military peacekeepers and 10% of United Nations police personnel. Despite the growing evidence regarding the importance of women, there is still little participation. By passing this legislation, the US is sending a clear signal that they intend to actively encourage the participation of women in peace and security processes. Actions such as these are important because they are active steps towards embracing the research and implementing it practically into policy.

The Women, Peace and Security Act is an important step towards increasing the participation of women in peace-building processes. The US has the potential to be an influential force and if they maintain this momentum, they may be able to encourage other countries to implement action plans aimed at increasing participation. Women have an important role to play in these processes and it is crucial that active steps are taken towards increasing their participation in peace-building activities. Their role has been recognised by a growing body of research and literature which is something that cannot be ignored. It is time that countries take more proactive measures to ensuring that women participate in these processes.