UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) recognizes the inordinate impact of war and conflict on women and the pivotal role women must play in conflict management, conflict resolution, and sustainable peace. The Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) Act of 2017 established U.S. policy across the interagency to promote the meaningful participation of women in all aspects of overseas conflict prevention, management, and resolution. The United States Strategy on Women, Peace, and Security (October 2019), and the Department of State Plan to Implement the U.S. Strategy on Women, Peace, and Security (June 2020) were developed in support of the WPS Act and provide strategic direction to the U.S. commitment to advance women’s roles in peace and security.
On March 8, 2021, President Biden released Executive Order 14020 on gender equity and equality, which mandated a comprehensive federal strategy on gender equity and equality. On October 22, the White House Gender Policy Council released the U.S. National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality . It incorporates foreign policy actions from across the interagency, including two issue areas on which the PM Bureau is already strongly focused: preventing and responding to gender-based violence, and recognizing the needs and contributions of women and girls in conflict and crisis situations.
WPS Goals and Objectives Implemented by PM
The PM bureau advances the implementation of the goals and objectives outlined in the WPS policy documents cited above by accelerating the mainstreaming of women’s participation and gender perspectives – especially at leadership and decision-making levels – within the security institutions of partner nations. PM programs, events, and activities accomplish this by focusing on the political-military aspects of the following four Department of State WPS outcomes:
- Women around the world meaningfully participate in decision-making processes related to conflict and crises.
- Women and girls around the world have access to aid and are safe from all forms of gender-based violence, abuse, and exploitation.
- U.S. personnel and international programs advance women’s and girls’ equality and empowerment.
- Partner governments adopt policies, plans, and capacity to improve the meaningful participation of women in processes connected to peace and security and decision-making institutions.
PM promotes WPS goals and objectives, particularly women’s meaningful participation in the security sector, through diplomatic and programmatic efforts. The bureau addresses WPS issues and gender-based violence principally through peacekeeping capacity building, security assistance programs, and conventional weapons destruction.
Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI)
GPOI is the world’s largest peace operations capacity-building program, partnering with more than 50 countries that contribute personnel to UN and African Union peace operations. Through GPOI, PM encourages women’s participation and leadership in peace operations, trains women peacekeepers, and integrates gender-related topics into training for peacekeepers. PM also funds courses focused on gender and women’s participation in peace operations. Since 2007, the GPOI program has trained more than 12,000 women peacekeepers. As of September 2021, GPOI partners provide 63% of all deployed female military peacekeepers despite representing only 44% of countries that deploy military peacekeepers.
Through GPOI, PM also works to remove barriers to women’s participation in training through gender-inclusive facility upgrades, including accommodations, bathrooms, and showers at partners’ peace operations training centers. Additionally, PM works to improve accountability for acts of misconduct, including sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) by peacekeepers. As part of GPOI, PM funded and initiated planning to develop a first-of-its-kind joint U.S.–UN training course for deploying units of National Investigation Officers (NIO), who investigate conduct and discipline issues with a focus on SEA. Seven regional NIO courses have been conducted, training over 170 students from 36 countries in the Africa, Latin America, and Indo-Pacific regions. In 2022, PM will fund a pilot UN NIO Train-the-Trainer Course.
International Military and Education Training (IMET)
The IMET program, managed by PM, provides opportunities for foreign military personnel from 135 countries to receive professional military education at U.S. defense institutions alongside U.S. counterparts to build expertise, interoperability, and people-to-people ties that deepen security partnerships and enhance mission efficacy. All Security Cooperation Officers working at U.S. embassies are encouraged to include qualified women candidates for IMET programs in at least the same percentage as they are present in their host country’s military. These efforts resulted in training provided to approximately 1,783 women between fiscal years 2015-2019. In FY 2022, the Department also intends to obligate at least $3 million specifically to train women personnel to attend IMET courses.
Conventional Weapons Destruction (CWD)
PM funds and manages CWD programs implemented by various non-government organizations through which women work as senior managers, deminers, community liaison officers, or deliver explosive ordnance risk education to affected communities. In societies that continue to limit the role of women, PM’s CWD programs offer powerful examples that change viewpoints. These programs not only give women a seat at the table in mine action but provide a path to that seat by working in all aspects of mine action, from leading survivor advocacy to engaging and surveying communities, providing municipal government oversight, and training deminers. CWD programs currently support all-women or mixed demining teams in numerous countries across the globe. CWD programs also help partner countries improve physical security and management of conventional weapons stockpiles, decreasing the chance of their diversion while protecting communities from accidental explosions involving unstable munitions. They empower women to take leading roles in securing and managing munitions stockpiles, a job previously reserved for men in many countries around the world.
Global Defense Reform Program (GDRP)
Through GDRP, PM aims to enhance security sector governance, institutional capacity, and resilience of U.S. partner countries while advancing U.S. foreign policy priorities, including WPS efforts. GDRP’s advisory support builds the capacity of women in the security sector through training and strategic advising to lead and implement security sector reforms that advance peace and security in their country.