On 15 May 2018, the U.S. Civil Society Working Group (U.S. CSWG) on Women, Peace and Security (WPS) launched a policy brief (co-authored by CIPS Fellow Gabrielle Bardall) arguing for extending the interpretation of the WPS agenda to include post-conflict democratization processes. The assertion is that women’s leadership in conflict prevention, management, and resolution and in post-conflict relief and recovery efforts does not end with the signing of a peace treaty: democratization processes are equally vital for achieving the WPS objectives. The recommendation comes on the heels of the passage of WPS legislation into U.S. law; however, the message of the policy brief applies equally in the Canadian context.
Canada’s national action plan on WPS affirms that “The path to peace needs empowered women because where women are included in governance, states are more stable.” The National Action Plan goes on to define women’s and girls’ empowerment as being about women and girls taking control over their lives: setting their own agendas, gaining skills, and developing self-reliance — including through their participation in political life, through political empowerment. Yet the story stops there. For the most part, WPS actions focus narrowly on protecting women as victims of gender-based violence, and of increasing women’s participation in the policing and security sectors at home and abroad. Canada’s Action Plan is also silent on identifying or strategizing to prevent one of the most destructive barriers to women’s participation in democratic spaces: violence against women in politics. The U.S. CSWG brief may be read by Canadian policymakers with an eye towards deepening women’s empowerment in the WPS space through meaningful and secure political participation.
Read the policy brief HERE