In 2011, the United States published its first National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security. In response, the Daniel K. Inouye Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies established a two-point WPS agenda: number one, mainstreaming women’s inclusion in its educational program, and number two, integrating WPS in its curriculum. Both are unique endeavors among DOD’s regional centers, and both are best practices. Let me briefly address each.
Our first best practice is Mainstreaming Women’s Inclusion. Broadly speaking, women’s participation rate in military forces ranges between 1% and 20%. For context, women in the U.S. military represent about 17% of the force. Central to DKI APCSS’s WPS program has been the imperative to raise female participation rates in our courses. To that end, we established a floor of 25% female participation in our courses in 2012, and then having achieved a female participation rate of 28% in 2018, we raised the floor to 33% (or 1/3d of the class) in 2019. Studies show that representation below 20% typically means that outcomes don’t change, but as participation approaches a rate of 1/3rd representation, which is called critical mass, suddenly women’s voices are heard and change occurs. I witnessed both ends of this spectrum during a 37-year career in the U.S. Army.
Our second best practice is Integrating a WPS Curricula. Since 2012, DKI APCSS has taught WPS in its courses. Our initial approach was to introduce Fellows to UN Security Council resolution 1325 on WPS and associated legal obligations of member states to advance its principles. No security topic taught at DKI APCSS has been less familiar to faculty and Fellows than WPS. And harder yet, has been for both groups to understand how to integrate its principles to advance better security. To help advance the WPS agenda, DKI APCSS approaches the general curricula, today, through the twin pillars of teaching Gendered Security to all fellows, and facilitating the development of WPS-related Fellow’s Projects to self-selecting Fellows.
So, let’s look at our 1st pillar of integrating a WPS Curriculum: Gendered security is taught as a methodology to strengthen solutions to state and human security issues through an approach that frames individuals as the focus of security while accounting for gender-based needs and interests of all people in all security situations. Through this, Fellows learn to use a gendered security analysis tool, or analytical framework, to aid thinking by identifying gender-based vulnerabilities, risks, and needs from the impacts of peace, crisis, and conflict. This analysis process considers information (what do we know), raises questions (what does it mean), and develops strategies (what we’ll do).
Okay, now let’s briefly discuss our 2nd pillar of integrating a WPS curriculum. WPS-related Fellows Projects are highlighted in each long course as faculty-mentors are assigned to facilitate project development and completion. Some of the Center’s most impactful Fellow’s Projects were WPS-based. For example, in 2020 a Nepalese security practitioner developed a Gender Action Plan for the Project Coherence Unit at the UN Office for Project Services in Kathmandu. In 2018, Samoa’s Ms. Jennifer Key helped draft her country’s first National Security Policy. In 2017, Pakistan’s Ms. Saira Ali Ahmed developed a Women’s Protection Cell and District Women’s Support Group to raise awareness and address issues of honor killings. These and many more projects by DKI APCSS Fellows have helped to realize better security in the Indo-Pacific and beyond.
I believe change is happening. As Leaders and other champions for WPS were essential to establishing and achieving these highlighted best practices, it is what will be requisite to advance this work even further. I believe that all who see themselves as security practitioners share duty and necessity to advance this “better security” by enlarging Peace, Prosperity, and Stability through Women, Peace, and Security.