Why this administration needs to invest in women
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Reading this headline, I’m sure some of you are already rolling your eyes. For many, the notion that a Trump administration could possibly consider women’s agency a vital element of his national security agenda is laughable. Some, because they don’t believe that he, or his administration nominees, genuinely care about women. Others, because they mistake investments in women as “identity politics.” Either notion is irrelevant, however, to my point.

I do not posit that investing in women’s agency is important because we should “care about women.” Nor do I suggest it because I think women are special, deserving of more benefits than others. I propose it because it is smart business.

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Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson said he has “seen firsthand the impact of empowering women, particularly empowering women’s participation in economic activities…there is study after to study to confirm that when you empower women in these developing parts of the world, you change the future of the country because you change the cycle in that family.”

He’s right. And regardless of how you feel about the incoming administration, there is an undeniable opportunity for our next President to leverage women’s contributions towards better peace and greater economic growth here at home and abroad.

The United States already has a national action plan on women, peace, and security. This plan is an invaluable tool for directing investments in women’s agency strategically. For any administration, enhancing the NAP, as it’s called, is a no-brainer.

What do we know about NAPs? There are more than 60 around the world. More than 60% of countries that have such strategies have grown more peaceful since adopting them. Nearly 90% of countries with national action plans have seen their gender gap shrink. Over 40% saw an increase in GDP growth since launching the strategies. 16 of the 20 countries ranked as most capable of addressing current and future internal security have NAPs. While it is difficult to establish a causal link between adopting a national action plan and these results, the numbers are, at the very least, provocative.

The existing strategy, however, could be much, much better. As any of President Trump’s staff and nominees might tell you, if you want to see results, you better be prepared to hold people accountable. But unlike others, our plan lacks a strategy for measuring and analyzing results. There exists neither a defined budget nor any indicators that cut across government agencies and determine whether it is being responsibly and effectively implemented.

Fears abound as to what a Trump administration might mean for women. The recent memo issued by the transition team at the Department of State, asking for information about existing programs and activities to promote gender equality, surely rattled some. But I stand ready to move past this divisive election and work with anyone committed to peace, security, and equality for all people.

This administration has an opportunity to prove to the American people that they know the value of investments in women. Making a public commitment to strengthening the U.S. national action plan on women, peace, and security would be an important step in the right direction.

Angelic Young is a security sector reform expert, an adjunct professor in George Mason University's Peace Operations graduate studies program, and a Security Fellow at the Truman National Security Project. Views expressed are her own.


The views expressed by authors are their own and not the views of The Hill.