DoD’s Women, Peace, and Security program makes huge strides
April 1, 2022

The Department of Defense’s Women, Peace, and Security program is two years into Strategic Framework and Implementation Plan. According to policy analysts from the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Global Partnerships, the program has “made significant strides to promote the safety, equality and meaningful contributions of women around the globe,” in that time.

women peace and security

U.S. Navy Maj. Gen. Suzy Vares-Lum, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command mobilization assistant to the commander, speaks during Pacific Air Forces’ first Women’s, Peace, and Security (WPS) symposium, hosted from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, March 31, 2021. Vares-Lum provided remarks about operationalizing WPS in the defense sector. (Photo Credit: U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Nick Wilson)

The program began in 2020 when the Department of Defense rolled out the inaugural Women, Peace, and Security Strategic Framework and Implementation Plan. The intention of this step was to advance the process by which the inclusion and equity of women in the military vertical was approached and executed.

The framework and implementation plan included the DoD’s “internal and external focus areas for the next four year”. These areas of focus included structuring the WPS initiative for use across the Joint Force, partnering with allied nations to promote equity and inclusion for women in their respective military sectors, and safeguarding safety and security for women and girls in WPS partner nations.

WPS policy analyst, Siena Cicarelli, said, “We execute WPS in the services and at the combatant commands through our team of gender advisors, who are trained by DoD to implement women, peace and security principles into what the department is doing, both internally and then also in our relationships with partner nations.”

The Women, Peace, and Security program was heavily supported by congress starting with the passage of the Women, Peace and Security Act of 2017 and the training of over 500 persons since 2019.

“As we know, there is a strong correlation between gender equality and stability.  Factors such as meaningful participation of women and incidence of gender-based violence are directly tied to whether or not a country has strong democratic institutions and whether or not they’re more likely to engage in conflict. This is not just ensuring we’re doing this to do it because it’s ‘the right thing to do,’ but [because] it also impacts our national security as well as global stability.” –  Erin Cooper, WPS policy analyst

The Department of Defense saw its program shine in the fall of 2021 when it deployed its gender advisory workforce to assist the efforts of Operation Allies Welcome during the evacuation out of Afghanistan. The purpose was to assist allied refugees in settling within the US.

The advisors helped the operation to appreciate the needs of women and girls among the refugees, and ensure that those there to help understood and acted in their best interest.

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