A few months ago I wrote about our need to work towards a more feminist foreign policy. At the time, I quoted this from an article by Jenny Nordberg about Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom.
Wallstrom also cites a growing body of research showing that women’s security is directly related to both national and international security. In the 2012 book “Sex and World Peace” a team of four researchers (Valerie M. Hudson, Bonnie Ballif-Spanvill, Mary Caprioli, and Chad F. Emmett) present data indicating that the more violent a state and its citizens are toward women, the more violent that state is likely to be over all, both internally and in its dealings with outside world. “In fact, the very best predictor of a state’s peacefulness is not its level of wealth, its level of democracy, or its ethno-religious identity; the best predictor of a state’s peacefulness is how well its women are treated,” Hudson wrote in a piece for Foreign Policy.
So you can imagine my interest in a headline like this: Women and Countering Violent Extremism. It is about a forum being sponsored this month by the United States Institute of Peace.
Women worldwide suffer disproportionately from violent extremism and conflict. Women’s key roles in society put them in ideal positions to prevent extremist violence. Yet, 15 years after the United Nations Security Council vowed to reverse the broad exclusion of women from leadership in security and peacebuilding, they remain marginalized. On July 21 at USIP, experts from civil society, the United Nations, academia, and the U.S. government will discuss ways to include women in efforts to counter violent extremism. The debate will directly inform U.S. government officials preparing for major international conferences on these issues this fall.
I had never heard of the United States Institute of Peace. My first thought was that it sounded like what Dennis Kucinich used to say we needed. But it actually began in 1984 on the recommendation of a commission appointed by President Jimmy Carter. The enabling legislation defined is purpose:
To serve the American people and the federal government through the widest possible range of education and training, basic and applied research opportunities, and peace information services on the means to promote international peace and the resolution of conflicts among the nations and peoples of the world without recourse to violence.
What I found even more interesting is that current board members include Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter.
It will be interesting to see what comes out of forums and conferences on this topic. But overall I am encouraged to see the discussion being promoted by people/groups like this.