White House Announces Major Steps to Strengthen Women’s Role in Peace and Security

In a decisive move to bolster global peace and security, the Biden-Harris Administration has announced new initiatives aimed at enhancing the role of women in these critical areas. The announcement, made during the NATO 75th Anniversary Summit, underscores the administration’s commitment to the Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) agenda, aligning with NATO’s renewed focus on gender equality in defense and political leadership.

“The status of women and girls and the stability and security of nations are inextricably linked. When women have equal opportunities to participate and lead, economies grow, education rates and health outcomes improve, and political instability and violence decline,” the White House statement declared, emphasizing the profound impact of women’s participation on national stability.

NATO’s Commitment to Women, Peace, and Security

NATO allies have recognized the importance of integrating women into peace and security efforts, viewing it as fundamental to the strength of democracies. “The Transatlantic relationship is built on a foundation of shared democratic values—including respect for democracy, individual liberty, and the rule of law, as enshrined in the Washington Treaty. Women’s meaningful participation and leadership in security, peace, and decision-making processes is fundamental to the strength of democracies, and therefore critical to NATO’s present and future effectiveness,” the statement noted.

Revised NATO WPS Policy and Support for Ukraine

A key deliverable from the summit includes the revised NATO WPS Policy, which addresses emerging security threats such as technology-facilitated gender-based violence and climate-related crises. The policy also highlights the threats posed by Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, particularly to women on the frontlines.

To support Ukrainian servicewomen, NATO allies announced historic contributions through the Comprehensive Assistance Package (CAP). These include providing women’s body armor, boots, and uniforms, marking the first time resources have been directed through CAP to advance WPS objectives.

Launch of Women LEAD Initiative

The Biden-Harris Administration also introduced the Women Leading Effective and Accountable Democracy in the Digital Age (Women LEAD) initiative, a partnership exceeding $850 million aimed at closing the gap in women’s leadership globally. “This new initiative harnesses shared commitments and priorities, including the U.S. Presidential Initiative for Democratic Renewal, the Global Partnership for Action on Gender-Based Online Harassment and Abuse, and the Network for Gender Inclusive Democracy,” the White House stated.

The U.S. has committed $150 million to advance women’s political leadership, prevent gender-based violence against women leaders, and support women’s participation in peacebuilding and conflict resolution. The initiative includes partnerships with 14 countries and over 20 foundations, international organizations, and civil society partners.

Ongoing Efforts and Future Plans

The administration also highlighted ongoing efforts to implement the 2023 WPS Strategy, focusing on advancing women’s participation in peace and security decision-making, promoting civic and political engagement, and strengthening women’s roles in conflict prevention and resolution.

“Under President Biden’s leadership, rates of sexual assault and sexual harassment in the active duty force have gone down for the first time in nearly a decade. This progress follows unprecedented actions from the President and Secretary of Defense Austin, including more than doubling the Department’s annual investments in sexual assault and sexual harassment prevention and response,” the statement highlighted.

In addition, the administration is promoting justice and accountability for sexual violence in conflict and supporting survivors through initiatives such as the Dignity in Documentation Initiative, which aims to provide holistic support for survivor-led efforts to investigate and document conflict-related sexual violence.

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