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The Women, Peace, and Security Agenda: Cross-Regional Challenges and Opportunities

Annaleah WesterhaugCornell Overfield
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On December 2, 2020, CNA’s Strategy and Policy Analysis program hosted a virtual, on-therecord event1 to discuss the implementation of the Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) agenda 20 years after the United Nations (UN) Security Council passed Resolution 1325, 2 which placed WPS on the global agenda. The WPS agenda aims to enhance overall security by increasing the representation of women in militaries and peace processes, and by improving women’s access to protection, justice, and equal opportunities during and after conflicts. Examining developments across Africa, Asia, and Europe, CNA’s event surveyed progress and remaining work on the agenda, the US government’s contributions, and the agenda’s relevance to security challenges such as great power relations and terrorism.

The event featured Major General Suzanne Vares-Lum of the US Indo-Pacific Command; Admiral (Ret.) James G. Foggo III, previously Commander of US Naval Forces Europe-Africa and NATO Allied Joint Force Command Naples; CNA Principal Research Scientist Julia McQuaid, a counterterrorism and Africa expert; and CNA Research Program Director Nilanthi Samaranayake, who focuses on allies and partners.

Major conclusions included:

  • US security is served by advancing the WPS agenda. The WPS agenda better equips the US to face two major security challenges: terrorism and great power relations.
  • The WPS agenda engages both personal experience and policy expertise. Speakers drew on policy expertise, but several underscored the agenda’s importance by sharing anecdotes of their experiences witnessing shortcomings in women’s security—shortcomings the agenda is designed to address.
  • The US is a key actor in the WPS agenda—but should not work alone. Panelists focused primarily on US policies and experiences with the WPS agenda. The UN played a relatively minor role in the discussion, despite its centrality in the WPS agenda’s origin. Instead, allies, partners, and civil society emerged as key partners in US WPS work abroad.
  • The US contributes to both traditional and newer WPS agenda items. Panelists concluded that the US has made some progress in improving the representation of women in militaries and governments, and that appreciation of US contributions to newer agenda items is growing. 

During the discussion, speakers flagged the continued lack of awareness of the WPS framework and programs, both in communities and in command structures, and the continued underrepresentation of women in militaries as principal challenges for the years ahead. This conference proceeding utilizes both qualitative and quantitative methods to highlight noteworthy themes throughout the discussion.

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DISTRIBUTION STATEMENT A. Approved for public release: distribution unlimited. Public Release.

Details

  • Pages: 16
  • Document Number: DCP-2021-U-029334-Final
  • Publication Date: 3/26/2021