WIIS Global Perspective: 2015 in Review
Updated: Feb 17
2015 has been an active year for Women in International Security. Together with our six US-based chapters and 21 international affiliates, we continued to promote WIIS’ core mission of advancing the professional development and leadership of women in the international security field by expanding networking opportunities and enhancing our mentoring and professional capabilities. WIIS’ research and policy engagement projects such as the UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 Scorecard project and the Combat Integration Initiative received national and international acclaim. Working off of this momentum, WIIS is developing a new set of research and policy initiatives, including a world-wide membership conference.
UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security
In October 2015, on the fifteenth anniversary of UNSCR 1325, WIIS presented the 1325 Scorecard at the NATO Headquarters in Brussels. The 1325 Scorecard is a tool to evaluate how well NATO armed forces are implementing the principles of UNSCR 1325. To access the full report, the 1325 Scorecard template, and case study scorecards of Canada, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States please visit http://wiisglobal.org/programs/unscr-1325-nato/.
In conjunction with the 15th anniversary WIIS also published a three-part series edited by Jeanette Gaudrie Haynie on the current status of UNSCR 1325. See: Gender Mainstreaming: Indicators for the Implementation of UNSCR 1325 and Its Related Resolutions; Women in Combat - Adaptation and Change in the US Military; The Piece Missing from Peace.
WIIS’ efforts and growing expertise on UNSCR 1325 are also reflected on a global scale. Throughout 2015 WIIS international affiliates actively coordinated with their government counterparts to develop National Action Plans on the implementation of UNSCR 1325. For example, at the request of the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, WIIS New Zealand hosted a public consultation event for the New Zealand National Action Plan, which included the participation of the Ministry, the New Zealand Defense Force and police, as well as civil society organizations and academia. WIIS Canada was also invited to provide feedback and recommendations on Canada’s current National Action Plan on UNSCR 1325.
In May 2015 WIIS Brussels hosted a public presentation and consultation to examine UNSCR 1325 and the future of the WPS agenda. The event was attended by over 100 participants from governments, international institutions and civil society.
In November 2015 WIIS Spain (SWISS) organized an academic event consisting of two round table discussions and a photo exhibition to celebrate the 15th Anniversary of UN Security Resolution 1325 and the Spanish Presidency of the Security Council. For additional information, please visit http://adesyd.es/swiis/index.php.
Women in Combat
In December 2015 US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter announced all combat positions would be open to women across the Armed Forces. This was a major victory for WIIS’ Combat Integration Initiative (CII), a program started in 2013 to examine and promote the integration of women into combat positions. Throughout 2015 CII dedicated much energy to educating the public on the experiences of US servicewomen and the implications associated with not opening all positions across the Armed Services to women. In April 2015, the CII hosted Women In Combat: Where they Stand, in collaboration with the Alliance for National Defense, the Reserve Officer’s Association, and the Truman National Security Project's No Exceptions initiative.
Additionally, WIIS Global hosted a workshop in July 2015, Women in Combat: Lessons Learned from Cultural Support Teams (CSTs), to dispel myths surrounding women in combat positions. The workshop highlighted successes of the CSTs and culminated in a Capitol Hill session where members of the CSTs met with Congressional leaders to share their experiences and offer lessons for future policy.
WIIS has published several briefs on CII during the year. See Women In Combat: Learning from Cultural Support Teams; True Grit: The Myths and Realities of Women in Combat; Exclusive Access to Marine Corps Study Shows it Misses the Mark.
Ellen Haring, CII project Director has done multiple media appearances. See for example: Women to Become Army Rangers, Barred from Combat for Huffington Post Live; First Women Soldiers Complete U.S. Ranger Training for CNN’s “The World Right Now;” and Will the first women to finish Ranger School change what’s off limits in the military? on PBS; Pentagon’s Decision to Open all Combat Roles to Women, also for Huffington Post Live.
The Missing Peace
The Missing Peace Initiative is a project of The United States Institute of Peace (USIP), the Human Rights Center at the University of California, Berkeley, the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), and Women In International Security. It brings together expert scholars, policymakers, practitioners, and military and civil society actors to examine the issue of sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict settings, identify gaps in knowledge and reporting and explore how to increase the effectiveness of current responses to such violence.
The Missing Peace Initiative on sexual violence in conflict and post conflict settings had two events in 2015. In June 2015 a two-day workshop provided an opportunity for young scholars to update each other on their research, examine the current state of research and identify gaps, challenges and new strands of research on preventing and ending sexual violence. In addition, a group of young scholars briefed Congressional Staffers on their research at a Bi-Partisan briefing. For detailed information, including the agenda and biographies of participants, please see the workshop bio book.
In August 2015, more than 70 legal, health, and law enforcement leaders from six African countries met in Kampala, Uganda as part of a global movement to end wartime sexual violence. Workshop participants will also discuss new findings from a groundbreaking, four-country study on conflict-related sexual violence to be launched at the workshop by the Human Rights Center at UC Berkeley School of Law. The study, in part, highlights barriers to investigating and prosecuting sexual violence and recommends better training and more funding for those on the front lines. Learn more about this study at https://www.law.berkeley.edu/centers/human-rights- center/programs/sexual-violence-program/.
For additional information on this initiative, please visit http://wiisglobal.org/programs/the- missing-peace-symposium/.
Supporting Female Leaders
In supporting its mission to advance women leaders in the security field, WIIS launched the Mentor and Professional Development (MPD) program. The MPD program helps women navigate real and perceived obstacles in their careers through skill-building workshops, a resource center, and promotion of an international network of women leaders. WIIS hosted two skill-building seminars on salary negotiation techniques in October and November 2015, and will facilitate additional seminars in early 2016 on presentation and public speaking skills, as well as leadership and management skills.
WIIS UK, WIIS Brussels, WIIS Germany, and WIIS New York also launched new mentoring initiatives in 2015. In addition, WIIS DC and WIIS GWU continue to host monthly mentoring and networking events. For example, in February 2015 WIIS and the Elliott School of International Affairs co- hosted Leadership in International Affairs: Lessons Learned featuring the Honorable Michèle Flournoy, who discussed her experiences as Under Secretary of Defense for Policy. Hon. Flournoy also reflected on her experience working at major Washington think tanks such as the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), before co-founding the Center for a New American Security.
The WIIS Network
WIIS also welcomed a new international affiliate, WIIS Horn of Africa. WIIS-HoA, headquartered in Kenya, supports the development of cross-border networks in the region, and seeks to identify good practices in peace and security in neighboring countries such as Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Tanzania.
In March 2015 U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec met with Ms. Fauziya Abdi Ali, President of WIIS-HoA and Chair of Sisters without Borders, at the PAWA 254 Art Haven in Nairobi, Kenya. In July 2015 WIIS-HOA President Ms. Fauziya Abdi Abdi spoke about empowering women to counter violent extremism with US President Barack Obama during his visit to Kenya. For addition information, please visit http://wiisglobal.org/wiis-hoa/.
In addition to the establishment of WIIS-HoA, many international affiliates have made great strides to solidify themselves. In November 2015 WIIS Brussels established itself as an independent, non-governmental organization! WIIS Brussels joins other international affiliates such as WIIS Germany and WIIS-HoA in becoming fully functioning, independent organizations.
Between November and December 2015 WIIS Canada led the 16 Days of Activism, a campaign which calls for the elimination of gender-based violence by raising awareness at the local, national, and international levels. It bolsters local projects working on issues of violence against women, provides a forum for effective strategy and knowledge-sharing, demonstrates the solidarity of women, and creates tools to pressure governments to implement policies aimed at eliminating violence against women.
Moving forward, WIIS Italy will be relaunched in 2016 under the leadership of Ms. Irene Fellin, an independent gender expert, and Lia Quartapelle, Member of the Italian Parliament. WIIS Italy will celebrate its relaunch with an event that coincides with the 2016 International Women’s day and will feature many distinguished guests from the Italian government.
Over 2015 WIIS has engaged in many collaborative partnerships with other organizations. These partnerships promote cross-pollination between networks and provide WIIS members with access to an exponentially larger network of professionals. Collaboration between organizations has also enhanced opportunities for WIIS members and increased the visibility of WIIS’ expanding network.
Finally, WIIS has expanded its expertise and reach into the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region by hosting fellows from Egypt, Tunisia, and Yemen. Visiting fellow from Egypt, Nehal Ali, designed a leadership and training program for women Parliamentarians and representatives on the local council. The objective of this program is to ensure women politicians have the tools to succeed and represent the needs of all Egyptian women. Visiting fellow from Tunisia, Monia Zgarni, designed a training program for adolescent girls to raise awareness of human rights frameworks and provide advocacy tools. In addition, Yemeni fellow Bushra al-Huthi is conducting a mapping assessment to identify the current needs of women and children in Yemen. This assessment will serve as a baseline to develop capacity-building programming moving forward.
Social Media and Outreach
Finally, WIIS launched a new website! The website is more user-friendly and allows for easier communication and networking among members. One new function is the “Search Member Directory” which allows members to search for other members based on topics of interest/expertise, job sector, and professional skills. The new aesthetics of the website provide a more polished appearance, illustrative of WIIS’ growth and prominence in the security sector.
WIIS’ social media presence has also grown significantly. The WIIS LinkedIn Group has expanded to 4,000 members! As of December 2015, the WIIS Global Facebook page has 5,424 followers, a follower increase of over 20% since 2014. The Combat Integration Initiative (CII) Facebook page has 179 followers and 188 followers on Twitter. The WIIS Global Twitter page has 1,907 followers actively supporting and spreading the messages of WIIS.
On October 30, 2015 WIIS coordinated a Twitter storm to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the UN Security Council’s adoption of Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security. All chapters and affiliates used the Twitter hashtags #1325at15 and #WhyWIISMatters to highlight and promote relevant developments, reports, events, etc. on the Women, Peace, and Security agenda.
This twitter storm was seen and retweeted by more than 2,000 people in a five hour window of time.
In addition a growing presence on social media, WIIS has gained recognition through the continual outreach and advocacy of its staff. WIIS President, Dr. Chantal de Jonge Oudraat, spoke on issues related to countering violent extremism, implementing UNSCR 1325, and addressing sexual based violence at global venues which included Abu Dhabi, Costa Rica, Brussels, Uganda, Vienna, New York, DC, and the Netherlands. Board members Pamela Aall and Prof. Catherine Kelleher spoke about WIIS in many venues across the United States and Europe. Professor Gale Mattox has been key in representing WIIS at professional association meetings, such as ISA, IPSA, APSA, etc. WIIS Program Manager, Brooke Stedman, discussed the Combat Integration Initiative with the American Heroes radio station and highlighted the importance of women’s full integration into the Armed Forces in a discussion with the Duchess of Cornwall. She will also participate in a civil society assessment in Tunisia and Morocco as part of a delegation with International Legacy.