This year is the 20th anniversary of the Women, Peace, and Security agenda. Not nearly at its midpoint, 2020 has already been a year of significant disruption. Amid a global pandemic, recession, and anti-racism protests, the security ideals upon which nations have been built are in flux. Nations are faced with systems that no longer serve their interests or have never served broader community interests. The Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) agenda provides an opportunity to recalibrate institutions that are failing to conform and whose inception was informed by the security ideals of a homogenous group. The Alliance must reshape its institutional ideals to reflect what the world is finally realizing: women’s inclusion and participation are not enough. Systemic innovation is required.
Women have emerged as the apparent dark horse of the pandemic response race. Women’s political leadership1 amid this global crisis is celebrated and studied, only affirming what WPS advocates have long argued: women’s security contributions are not valued, until they can no longer be ignored. While women’s leadership should be recognised and celebrated for its efficacy amid one of the most pressing security challenges of recent history, women’s security expertise remains systematically under-utilized and undervalued. While WPS has made significant progress2 over the past two decades, it is not a static set of resolutions.
3 have defined the last century of security institutions, so too can women’s security notions define a new path forward for the next 100 years.
Importantly, in many countries, the rights of girls and women may not exist or are concealed or oppressed. In the United States, for example, systems designed to protect women and girls have too often failed to do so; this includes the judicial and political systems. Therefore, girls and women often work outside of systems and institutions to establish security for themselves, and perhaps their families and communities. Thus, they do not adhere to stringent notions of security imbued in so many institutions and societies. Girls and women adapt; they innovate.