WAND welcomes the Women Peace and Security Act (WPS Act) signed into law on October 6, 2017. The enactment of this extraordinary bipartisan legislation requires the United States to develop a comprehensive strategy to increase and strengthen women’s participation in peace negotiations and conflict prevention.
The evidence is clear: when it comes to peace and security, we need women at the tables of power. Women’s meaningful participation is an essential ingredient making peace agreements more likely and improving outcomes for sustainable, lasting peace. Women are also key in identifying and preventing violent extremism, and higher women’s representation in parliaments and legislatures is correlated with lower incidence of conflict and lower levels of governmental human rights abuses.
Over the past five years WAND, in collaboration of our WiLL (Women Legislators’ Lobby) program, has worked to encourage support for previous versions of the WPS Act. WAND and WiLL community leaders have participated in hundreds of meetings with congressional offices, published scores of letters to the editors and op-eds, and engaged in other digital media and public education activities to press forward the Women, Peace, and Security agenda.
We are especially pleased and proud that two steadfast WPS Act congressional champions are WiLL/WAND Torchbearer Awardees – Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH –2011 Torchbearer Award recipient) and Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL -9– 2015 Torchbearer Award recipient). It should also be noted that Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) led Senate efforts on the WPS Act prior to retiring in 2016. These women leaders have been tenacious and strategic in building strong bi-partisan support for this legislation.
Particular commendation and gratitude is also due to key Republican leaders, including: WPS Act sponsor in the Senate, Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV); WPS Act sponsor in the House, Congresswoman Kristi Noem (R-SD); House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA), who held a hearing on the WPS Agenda in 2016 and has led the way in shaping and advancing this successful legislation, and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) who guided passage in the Senate.
WAND/WiLL is committed to working along with our colleagues in the U.S. Civil Society Working Group on Women, Peace. and Security and key policymakers in Congress and the Administration to ensure that the WPS Act is fully implemented and that enforced and that the Women, Peace, and Security Agenda is advanced.