Senators seek to boost women in international forces

Senators seek to boost women in international forces
© Francis Rivera

A Democratic pair of female senators is looking to boost the number of women in security forces across the globe through a bill introduced Thursday.


The bill, from Sens. Barbara BoxerBarbara Levy BoxerBass raises nearly million since launching LA mayor campaign Harry Reid, political pugilist and longtime Senate majority leader, dies Congress can prevent another Jan. 6 by updating a key elections law MORE (D-Calif.) and Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenSenators introduce bill aimed at protecting Ukrainian civilians Biden huddles with group of senators on Ukraine-Russia tensions Former aide says she felt 'abandoned' by Democrats who advanced Garcetti nomination as ambassador to India MORE (D-N.H.), would require the State Department to increase the participation of women in foreign military exchanges, peacekeeping training, programs to counter terrorism and violent extremism, and police training.

"Women are grossly underrepresented in security forces worldwide," Boxer said in a written statement. "Investing in female leaders is not just about fairness, it is about the vital security interests of the United States and our international partners.”

Under the bill the State Department, in coordination with the Defense Department, would have to double the number of women participating in the International Military Education and Training program by Sept. 30, 2019. The program brings officers from foreign countries to U.S. military schools and sends U.S. trainers to foreign countries.

Of the 141 countries that received funding for the program from 2011 through 2015, about 7 percent of participants from those countries were women, according to the bill.

The State Department would also have until Sept. 30, 2019, to double the number of women training in its Antiterrorism Assistance Program, which prepares civilian security and law enforcement personnel from foreign governments for police procedures related to terrorism.

On peacekeeping, the State Department would have to work with partner countries receiving peacekeeping training assistance to prioritize training, integrating, deploying and employing female peacekeepers.

The State Department would have five years to double the number of qualified women deployed to peacekeeping operations. 

Of the countries that get assistance from the United States’ Global Peace Operations Initiative to train, deploy and build the capacity of peacekeepers, women make up 4 percent of total military forces deployed to peace operations, 7 percent of formed police units deployed and 10 percent of total police forces deployed, according to the bill.

Also, according to the United Nations, women make up 3 percent of total military forces deployed to peacekeeping missions and 9 percent of total police forces deployed to peacekeeping missions.

For law enforcement, the State Department would have to ensure that women make up at least 10 percent of participants from foreign countries getting law enforcement training.

In her statement, Boxer said more women in peacekeeping missions could curb alleged sexual abuse.

“When women are deployed on peacekeeping missions, there are fewer allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation,” she said. “Women soldiers and police are uniquely capable of reaching out to underserved populations, demobilizing and reintegrating female ex-combatants, and mentoring other women."

The underrepresentation of women affects mission effectiveness, Shaheen added.

"Women bring an invaluable and necessary skill set to their units,” she said in a written statement. “We know that women all across the globe are ready and willing to meet the challenge of serving in security forces alongside male colleagues. Through our support of foreign security forces, the United States is in a position to empower women through participation in security forces.”