Between 23 September and 22 October 2011, the U.S. Section of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) held five civil society consultations with the Department of State‘s Office of Women's Global Issues on the formulation of the U.S. National Action Plan (NAP) on UN Security Council Resolution 1325, due to be finalized in December 2011. The consultations were held in Detroit, Michigan; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; San Diego, California; Portland, Oregon; and Boston, Massachusetts. As the U.S. government had not completed a draft NAP, the consultations depended upon an oral briefing without specific details as to accountabilities, timelines, benchmarks or indicators. Consultations validated the stated goal of the U.S. 1325 NAP to make “women equal partners in peace” while also stressing the centrality of both external and domestic applications to achieve this aim. Participants worked in roundtables and presented testimony and recommendations to strengthening the NAP.
The civil society consultations resulted in 64 concrete recommendations relevant to UN SCR 1325 implementation internationally, domestically, or both. In total, the recommendations provoke a rethinking of how, as a country, the U.S. defines peace and security, especially in terms of women's experience of conflict and violence. If entirely adopted and implemented, the recommendations would necessitate a doctrinal shift in foreign and military policy to firmly situate women's equality and protection, at home and abroad, at the center of long-term sustainable peace. As such, the findings call for a whole government approach in the development and implementation of a U.S. SCR 1325 NAP in order to address the complexity of women's experiences of discrimination and inequality as directly linked to a continuum of physical, structural and armed violence.
First and foremost, the recommendations call on the U.S. to codify, and therefore be internationally accountable to, its commitment to gender equality through the ratification of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Women's representation and participation at any decision-making table is key, and comprehensive quotas are needed to reach that goal. Participants stressed the need to incorporate in the U.S. 1325 NAP immigration, refugee and asylum policies, and to address the specific challenges of women serving in the military and the families they leave behind and return to—sometimes debilitated by physical and mental trauma. Protection of women from violence must be at the forefront of the 1325 NAP, both at home and abroad, especially as it is directly linked to the impact of militarization, including environmental degradation, on community and family violence. Investments in peace, such as the establishment of the Department of Peace and peace and civic education in schools, are recommended as a means of converting a culture of violence into one that prioritizes human security and development. These recommendations, it should be noted, are unique for their domestic perspective at the grassroots level on how the U.S. must reorganize its domestic policy as a means of remedying a militarized foreign
The interagency taskforce on the 1325 NAP development can benefit greatly from the perspectives of women civil society actors in the U.S. In setting its priorities for women, peace and security domestically and internationally, it is encouraged to exert its full leadership and leverage by adopting a human security approach that focuses on the health, economic security and education of women to the benefit of the global and local community