WASHINGTON D.C. – U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) introduced the Women, Peace and Security Act of 2014 to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on January 16. Boxer, who is a senior member of the committee, and Kirk are the two cosponsors of the bipartisan legislation thus far.
The Women, Peace and Security Act makes certain that the United States encourages the meaningful involvement of women in the mediation and negotiation processes for the prevention, mitigation and resolving of violent conflicts.
The bill applies the U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security policies.
GovTrack projects a 14 percent chance of the bill getting past the committee and a 3 percent chance of being enacted.
Section five of the Women, Peace and Security Act outlines the U.S. policies. The policies focus on improving the lives of women through equal rights, security and economic opportunities.
The first policy refers to the full participation of women in conflict prevention, management and resolution as active partners. The second calls for affected women to have their perspectives and interests incorporated into conflict prevention efforts and strategies.
The third policy states that the U.S. will promote the physical safety, economic security and the dignity of women and girls. The U.S. support of women’s equal access to aid distribution mechanisms and services is covered by the fourth policy.
The fifth policy says the U.S. will monitor, analyze and evaluate the efforts made and how impactful they are. The sixth policy requires policies and programs to be adjusted for better outcomes.
Women Are Disadvantaged
Violence and armed conflict affect women most; however, women are not adequately represented in peace negotiations. Women must be included as valued participants in peace negotiations to establish a peaceful resolution.
The inclusion of women in prevention and conflict resolution efforts has promoted democracy and potentially made the peace process more successful. Boxer calls for women across the world to be full and active partners in conflict resolution efforts.
Kirk echoes Boxer, as he states that it is time for women to play a key role in international peace talks and negotiations. He explains that the Women, Peace and Security Act will empower women and make certain of their participation in establishing lasting peace in regions where war, instability and violence occur.
The National Action Plan was launched in 2011 by U.S. President Barack Obama with the purpose to empower women as equal partners in preventing conflict and building peace worldwide. The Women, Peace and Security Act of 2014 ensures that purpose will be incorporated into future U.S. foreign policy decisions and U.S. efforts for the cause.
Women in Conflict
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) warns that inequalities increase and women suffer most of the violence during conflict. Conflict breaks down social order and the rule of law, which makes women more vulnerable.
Armed conflict subjects women and girls to sexual and gender-based violence. The assaults do not cease after peace treaty signings. Violence against women and girls increases the occurrence of early marriages and human trafficking. Girls also have less of an opportunity to attend school.
Decreased violence against women and girls helps women and girls to become contributors to just and equal societies. The UNDP says that just and equal societies do not fall back into armed conflict.
If passed, the Women, Peace and Security Act of 2014 will give women the opportunity to be leaders in the peace process and society as a whole. Furthermore, countries riddled with violent conflict will benefit and begin to stabilize.
– Brittany Mannings