Chairman Lynch And Subcommittee Press For Inclusion Of Women In National Security Policymaking

Jul 23, 2020 Issues: Committee on Oversight and Reform, National Security

Washington, D.C. — Today, U.S. Representative Stephen F. Lynch, Chairman of the Subcommittee on National Security, held a hybrid hearing to examine the Trump Administration’s implementation of the United States Strategy on Women, Peace, and Security (WPS Strategy).

“The consequences for U.S. national security policy are clear: not only do women deserve a seat at the table, but meaningful consideration of their voices and interests will lead to greater security and stability in fragile states and post-conflict environments around the world,” Chairman Lynch said. 

The Subcommittee heard testimony from The Honorable Kelley Currie, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues at the Department of State; The Honorable Michelle Bekkering, Assistant Administrator for the Bureau for Economic Growth, Education and Environment at the U.S. Agency for International Development; Stephanie Hammond, Acting Deputy Assistant of Defense for Stability and Humanitarian Affairs at the Department of Defense; and Cameron Quinn, Officer for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties at the Department of Homeland Security.

Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, announced her intent to introduce legislation that would establish a White House Women, Peace, and Security Council, which would be staffed by senior agency officials who focus exclusively on WPS Strategy implementation and report directly to their secretaries:

“This would send a strong signal about the United States’ commitment to empowering women and girls in political and civic life, both overseas and here at home, while coordinating a whole-of-government implementation of the Women, Peace, and Security Strategy,” Chairwoman Maloney said.  “It’s an investment in peace to invest in the empowerment of women.”

·         The Trump Administration has not demonstrated its commitment to promoting women, peace, and security principles.

o    Despite the State Department’s claim that “protecting the rights of Afghan women and girls and building on the accomplishments to date is an imperative,” President Trump has acknowledged that the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan “possibly will” allow the Taliban to return to power.  Ambassador Currie testified during the hearing that the Taliban’s record on women’s rights is “abysmal.”  

o    Rep. Harley Rouda criticized the Trump Administration for failing to place greater importance on sexual and reproductive healthcare in the WPS Strategy, and argued that the Trump Administration’s repeated attacks on sexual and reproductive health undermine WPS Strategy principles of gender equality and women’s empowerment. 

·         Members and witnesses affirmed the importance of U.S. defense and national security agencies enabling and encouraging more women to serve in senior leadership positions while strengthening a culture of diversity and inclusion in the workforce.

o    Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Hammond testified that “When we recognize and support the important roles women fulfill as agents of change, and when we incorporate their perspectives throughout our plans and operations, we are better equipped to promote our security, confront our near-peer competitors, and defeat our adversaries.”