The political issues that have domestically dominated the United States within the past year, from the sexual misconduct allegations of President Trump, to the Executive Order repeal of birth control access to employees based on religious or personal exemptions, to the viral #MeToo campaign of women sharing their stories of sexual abuse or harassment, have highlighted the fact that women’s rights in the U.S. remain a glass half-empty. This past year has shown that while we as a country have come so far, there remains much more work to be done.
However, 2017 has also been a year of opportunity. In the face of these challenges, women have not waited for the political tide to turn for things to improve- rather, we’ve taken action to create change. From day one of Trump’s administration, we have organized, marched, and protested. The results have been undeniable: the actions women have taken are creating a shift in American consciousness. This year of action is being heard, loud and clear across the country and the world, and there have been victories along the way.
One of these victories is the passage of the Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) Act on October 6th, 2017. The Women, Peace, and Security Act ensures that the United States promote meaningful participation of women in peace processes in mitigating, preventing, or resolving violent conflict. This act stipulates that “it shall be the 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.” Among other things, this act mandates trainings for members of US defense, diplomatic, and development personnel on gendered perspectives, requires timely reports from the President and regular reporting from the Department of State and USAID to relevant congressional committees, and calls on the President to submit to Congress a government-wide Women, Peace, and Security Strategy.
The passage of the WPS act represents a huge gain for women everywhere. Though this act has been introduced in the House before, after years of debate it finally passed with bi-partisan support. The Women, Peace, and Security Act proves that against the odds, we can use this moment it continue advancing women’s inclusion both abroad and at home. It’s time we focus in on the potential of women and ensure that women everywhere get a seat at the decision-making table.