President Obama today signed an executive order to mandate the implementation of a sweeping new US government plan to include women in peacemaking and security roles around the world. The National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security (PDF) instructs the disparate elements of the government’s foreign policy machine to pro-actively seek women’s engagement and women’s empowerment abroad as a tool to advance the American economic and security interests. It also instructs the US government to do a better job encouraging women to join its own national security institutions.
I just caught up with Kristen Cordell of Refugees International. As a member of the civil society working group on the National Action Plan, Cordell helped shape this policy. In the brief conversation below, Cordell walks me through the highlights of the national action plan; explains about why “women, peace, and security” has caught on as an international security priority; and offers her pleasant surprise over the fact that this policy was enshrined in an “executive order.”