There is a capability gap within U.S. agencies having equities in Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) which is a threat to our national security and moral standing amongst our international partners who have institutionalized WPS significantly improving outcomes. In the U.S., WPS is becoming somewhat politicized just by the very name ‘Women’ in the title and ‘Gender’ in its’ meaning. We are the first nation to make WPS law and Congress is resourcing efforts, but we are failing to operationalize and meet the needs of agency leads who need this strategic capability most. There is a lack of highly trained and experienced Gender Advisors (GENAD) and standardization across policy, operations, and training with little oversight.
In the U.S., GENADS are not codified positions, trackable or career enhancing. Often, women are named as a GENAD due to their sex, not their training or expertise. It is an ancillary duty. There are few that have been in the field over five years working at strategic, operational, and tactical levels. We expect agencies to create and develop their own curriculum, training, and teams with very little guidance or funding causing confusion and lessoning the value WPS can truly bring to the human domain. Academia, researchers, and large government contractors are dominating the message, creation of policy and curriculum which is not connecting with intended audiences nor demonstrating the value of implementing a ‘gender lens’ into policy, strategy, operations, or training.
You need the right team of 2020vet strategists, policy makers, operators, and trainers. A team that acts quickly on their feet, understands the human domain and how to work with inter agencies, NGOs, international partners, and private industry. Weaving them together and leveraging their capabilities, avoiding duplication, and providing holistic oversight is key to mission success. Often, they work in silos, and it is equally crucial to have communications with these entities in tandem with the populations we are supporting. On the spot problem solvers that understand how what happens at the tactical level can influence longer term change at the operational and strategic levels. People who can train and assemble teams to meaningfully interact with the community in a non-threatening way gaining the trust necessary to answer the question of ‘why’. Why is this happening? What is the real problem? What can we do about it? This way we avoid throwing resources at the wrong proposed solutions and can continue to home in on other areas. This gives agency leads better situational understanding so he/she can make informed decisions and successfully meet mission requirements.