Representative Schakowsky Statement to Foreign Affairs Committee on Women, Peace and Security Act

Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–June 16, 2016.  Today, Representative Jan Schakowsky submitted the following statement to the House Foreign Affairs Committee in support of the H.R. 5332, the Women, Peace and Security Act, which she introduced along with Representatives: Noem, Royce, and Engel. The bill passed out of full committee markup this morning:

“Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Ranking Member for allowing me to provide this statement and for working to streamline and improve the text of this legislation.  I also want to thank Rep. Noem for her partnership in moving H.R. 5332, the Women, Peace, and Security Act, forward.

Our bill would promote the participation of women in creating peace. With conflicts and terrorism engulfing much of the world, we need to promote effective approaches to ending conflict.  Peace negotiations are more likely to end in a lasting agreement when women play an active role.

In fact, a recent study from the International Peace Institute found that a peace agreement is 35 percent more likely to last for at least 15 years if women participate in its drafting.  For example, in Somalia, women often serve as de facto diplomats, carrying messages between clans to settle disputes because they have greater freedom of movement.  In Northern Ireland, the Women’s Coalition was active in ensuring that previously overlooked issues were included in the Good Friday Agreement, including victims’ rights, reintegration of political prisons and integrated education – all issues not discussed by the main parties at negotiations.

Women’s participation also helps prevent conflict.  The same study also found that with each five percent increase in the percentage of women participating in political processes, a nation is five times less likely to use violence when faced with an international crisis or conflict.

Five times less likely to use violence! Including women is a remarkably simple solution to creating a more peaceful and just world.

Despite the clear evidence in favor of women’s participation, women remain underrepresented in conflict prevention, conflict resolution, and post-conflict peacebuilding efforts around the world. Research and experience are increasingly pointing to one major explanation: the failure and lack of concerted effort to include a broad range of stakeholders, especially women, in peace processes.

The Women, Peace, and Security Act before the Committee today would build upon the U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security that was enacted by executive order in December 2011 and enable Congress to exercise oversight of implementation of the NAP.  The NAP makes clear that the meaningful inclusion of women in peace and security processes is imperative for national and global security.  This legislation establishes women’s participation as a permanent element of U.S. foreign policy

The bill would require the State and Defense Departments to report annually to Congress on efforts to actively recruit and promote women’s participation in conflict prevention and resolution.  It would encourage the U.S. to assist women mediators and negotiators by eliminating barriers to their equal and secure participation in peace processes.  In addition, the Women, Peace, And Security Act would institute comprehensive training modules on the protection, rights, and specific needs of women in conflict and require the Administration to evaluate the impact of U.S. foreign assistance on women’s meaningful participation.

This bill is a crucial step forward to ensuring the women all around the world have a voice and a role in political and peace processes.

I thank the Committee again for considering H.R. 5332, and I look forward to working with you to advance the meaningful inclusion of women in efforts to create peace and security.”