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Refugees International congratulates the U.S. Government on this impressive plan to empower women as partners in peace and security. Just a few years ago, such a strong, far-reaching plan would have been unthinkable, and we commend President Obama for his leadership on this issue.
We believe that the National Action Plan is a true recognition of the importance of women as key actors in post-conflict reconstruction and peace-building. In joining the 32 other countries that have completed similar action plans, the U.S. has sent an important and unified message that preventing abuse and exploitation, protecting women from gender-based violence, and engaging women in peace processes are all vital to long-term state stability.
One thing that has been particularly astounding about the development of the Plan is the collective learning process it has sparked within the U.S. government. A little over a year ago, there were few champions for women’s roles in peace and security – and the argument for women’s inclusion was rarely heard. But this new interagency approach, led by the National Security Council, has resulted in a broad infusion of knowledge and capacity that can impact operations at all levels. We hope this learning process will continue through further research and capacity-building of government staff across the inter-agency team.
Vital to the success of the Plan will be its implementation across all government programs – with an emphasis on enhancing accountability and monitoring mechanisms. This is the only way to evaluate our success. We therefore applaud President Obama’s Executive Order on the creation of agency-focused implementation plans within the next 150 days. We also commend the active and attentive role of the Department of Defense: its emphasis on women’s involvement in providing security means they will not be left out of stability processes for fear of rocking the boat.
Finally, we look forward to being involved in the development of the President’s implementation plans – especially in Refugees International’s areas of expertise: protection of refugee and internally-displaced women, gender-based reform of humanitarian response, and a greater role for women in UN peacekeeping and policing.