Despite it being 2017, despite women making up roughly 50% of the population (per the World Bank the number is just above 49.5% http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.POP.TOTL.FE.ZS), despite all the years and decades of fighting for equal rights, women have been and still are underrepresented in politics, mediation, negotiation, the top tiers of business and conflict resolution. H.R. 2484, the “Women, Peace, and Security Act of 2017” looks at the representation of women in “overseas conflict prevention, management, and resolution” as well as in “post-conflict relief and recovery efforts” (https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/2484/text?q=%7B%22search%22%3A%5B%22HR+2484%22%5D%7D&r=1). While not stated within the bill, if this bill became law it would align US foreign policy with the policies of The United Nations and thus with many other nations. In 2013, The United Nations Security Council (on which the US sits & sat), by unanimous vote, “demonstrated renewed determination to put women’s leadership at the centre of all efforts to resolve conflict and promote peace… the Council adopted a resolution that sets in place stronger measures to enable women to participate in conflict resolution and recovery” (http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2013/10/press-release-on-adoption-of-wps-resolution, http://www.un.org/womenwatch/feature/wps/).
In case you are curious as to why it is deemed imperative for women to be more equally represented in conflict-resolution, peace-promotion efforts…. Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka the United Nations Women Executive Director spoke to the UN Security Council in 2013, before their unanimous vote and stated, “Women’s leadership is central to reconciliation and conflict resolution and to peacebuilding efforts that bring results for families and communities” (http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2013/10/press-release-on-adoption-of-wps-resolution).
Statistically it has also been found that, “Women’s economic participation and their ownership and control of productive assets speeds up development, helps overcome poverty, reduces inequalities and improves children’s nutrition, health, and school attendance. Women typically invest a higher proportion of their earnings in their families and communities than men.… With even a few years of primary education, women have better economic prospects, fewer and healthier children, and better chances of sending their own children to school…. Women are agents of change in their families, communities and countries. Increasing the voice and participation of women in politics is essential for advancing issues of importance to women on national agendas, with benefits for both women and men” (http://www.oecd.org/dac/gender-development/investinginwomenandgirls.htm). For specific facts such as, “Countries where women’s share of seats in political bodies is greater than 30% are more inclusive, egalitarian, and democratic” go to USAID: https://www.usaid.gov/infographics/50th/why-invest-in-women, which notes that, “Aid programs that provide women opportunities to better their health, education, and well-being have effects far beyond a single individual. A woman multiplies the impact of an investment made in her future by extending benefits to the world around her, creating a better life for her family and building a strong community” (https://www.usaid.gov/infographics/50th/why-invest-in-women).
Women have also been found to be effective leaders, negotiators and mediators: “The evidence shows that female leaders typically have more compassion and empathy, and a more open and inclusive negotiation style. This is not, of course, necessarily true of all women — there are many different leadership styles. That said, modern ideas of transformative leadership are more in line with qualities women generally share: empathy, inclusiveness [being collaborative as well as less hierarchical] and an open negotiation style” (http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/29/opinions/women-rising-benefits-society-young/index.html). Gwen Young, the author of this cited CNN article, goes on to state that “Today’s global problems require leaders that have diverse skill sets and innovation that can only come from diverse ideas and players. Women bring the skills, different perspectives and structural and cultural difference to drive effective solutions. In short, female leaders change the way global solutions are forged” (http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/29/opinions/women-rising-benefits-society-young/index.html).
Armed with these statements as well as facts that women bring quantifiable and needed benefits to the table, let us return to H.R. 2484, which aims, “To ensure that the United States promotes the meaningful participation of women in mediation and negotiation processes seeking to prevent, mitigate, or resolve violent conflict… [by creating a] policy of the United States to promote the meaningful participation of women in all aspects of overseas conflict prevention, management, and resolution, and post-conflict relief and recovery efforts, reinforced through diplomatic efforts and programs” (https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/2484/text?q=%7B%22search%22%3A%5B%22HR+2484%22%5D%7D&r=1). This intention would be achieved by the US creating a “single government-wide strategy, to be known as the Women, Peace, and Security Strategy, that provides a detailed description of how the United States intends to fulfill the policy objectives [to promote meaningful participation of women…]” (source: see above). The strategy would be crafted by, “the President, in consultation with the heads of the relevant Federal departments and agencies” (source: see above). The bill provides great detail how exactly the already present and relevant US departments and agencies would support foreign nations, agencies, etc… in promoting and integrating women into the mediation and negotiation process and I encourage you to read the details of this bill.
Supporting this bill, supports women and supporting women, supports our humanity.