The United States’ continued dedication to full inclusion of women in peace and security issues was evident at this week’s NATO Foreign Ministerial meeting. The US Delegation was led by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and included several other women like the Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs and Senior Director for European Affairs on the National Security Staff, Dr. Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, and Ambassador Victoria Nuland, Department of State Spokesperson and Former U.S. Ambassador to NATO. Their work, and many other influential women, embodies the commitment the United States made to gender mainstreaming in security matters over a decade ago when it approved United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, “Women, Peace, and Security,” in October of 2000.
Recognizing the disproportionate impact of armed conflict on women and children, UNSCR1325, among other key objectives, calls for all States to “ensure increased representation of women at all decision-making levels in national, regional and international institutions and mechanisms for the prevention, management, and resolution of conflict.”
To that end, President Obama issued a National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security in December 2011 as a matter of national policy. The Department of State, under the leadership of Secretary Clinton, also issued its own Implementation Plan of that policy in August of this year.
Both of those documents set out the goal of empowering ”half the world’s population to act as equal partners in preventing conflict and building peace in countries threatened and affected by war, violence, and insecurity.” They also make clear that “achieving this goal is critical to our national and global security.”
Other senior female figures present at the NATO this week included the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Lady Catherine Ashton, Croatian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign and European Affairs Vesna Pusić, Georgian Foreign Minister Dr. Maia Panjikidze, Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, and NATO’s Special Representative for Women, Peace, and Security, Mari Skåre. The United States has its own Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, Melanne Verveer, who has also attended several events at NATO Headquarters in recent years.
The United States and NATO take their commitment to gender mainstreaming peace and security issues seriously; as Secretary Clinton said, “women in peacekeeping is both the right thing to do and the smart thing…It’s right, because, after all, women are affected disproportionately by conflict; they deserve to participate in the decisions that shape their own lives. And it’s the smart thing because we have seen again and again that women participating in these processes builds more durable peace.”
For more information, read the Department of State’s Factsheet on armed conflict’s impact on women, Secretary Clinton’s remarks on the importance of women in peace and security, NATO’s commitment to the principles of UNSCR1325, and the Special Representative’s remarks to the Security Council last week.