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Introduction to Women, Peace and Security

This course prepares professionals intellectually and practically to work in and/or with U.S. agencies that implement the Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) Act of 2017, with a focus on the Departments of Defense (DoD) and State. Students will learn and problem-solve through a range of learning methods such as presentations, seminar discussions, and case studies. The course features findings from academic research, partner nation engagement, and impact analysis. It features a selective and limited number of expert speakers.

More than 100 nations have published WPS National Action Plans. The United States passed the Women, Peace, and Security Act of 2017 with unanimous bipartisan support. President Trump signed the Act into law on October 6, 2017. Four U.S. agencies are responsible for the Act’s implementation: State, Defense, USAID, and DHS. Congress has continued to push the agencies, especially DoD, towards effective implementation through annual appropriations and legislation such as the National Defense Authorization Act. DoD has integrated WPS into security cooperation efforts as well as stability operations. The career field in WPS is burgeoning as agencies integrate WPS into their policies and programming.

Women Peace and Security is an international framework that emerged with UN Security Council Resolution 1325 in 2000. UNSCR 1325 was passed in response to evidence from conflict-affected countries suffering devastating and destabilizing effects of war on civilians, including high incidences of violence against women. UNSCR 1325 thus recognized the disproportionately negative effect of conflict and war on women and the link between international peace and security and women’s meaningful participation in peace processes and civil society. Research furthermore shows that women’s meaningful participation is key to establishing long-term peace and stability and that social and political marginalization of women correlates with an increase in the likelihood that a country will experience conflict. Countries that prioritize the protection of women and girls, prevent discrimination and violence against women and girls, and promote women’s participation at all levels of decision-making and peacebuilding are more likely to respect human rights and human dignity and to address the root causes of conflict.


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