Three years ago, the Women, Peace and Security Act was signed into law by President Trump after being supported in the U.S. Congress by members of both parties. Since bipartisan cooperation is exceedingly rare nowadays, when there is an opportunity to celebrate meaningful work by both parties, let’s take it.

Notably, the Women, Peace and Security Act was championed by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV). The Act recognized that when women and girls are given more opportunities, they will be further empowered within their societies. Consequently, those societies will be more peaceful.

According to the Women, Peace and Security Act, there is a link between overall peace within a society and women’s participation. The act notes that there is evidence that participation by women in a peace negotiation makes the resulting agreement sixty four percent less likely to fail and thirty five percent more likely to last at least fifteen years.

The Act requires the United States to create a strategy that will increase women’s participation in security efforts. It mandates a government-wide strategy that will increase women’s participation in peacekeeping and security operations. The law sought accountability by requiring a report to Congress about government progress in enacting this strategy and it imposed reporting requirements on federal agencies, like the State Department, USAID and the Department of Homeland Security.

The act is based on the idea that empowering women leads to more peaceful societies. More peaceful societies around the globe are good for everyone, including the citizens of the United States.

As Congressman Michael Waltz (R-FL) said recently, “Where women thrive, extremists don’t.” The Congressman believes it is a national security issue for the United States to support efforts like these. 

Congressman Waltz along with Congresswoman Lois Frankel (D-NY), launched the Women, Peace and Security Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives this year. The bipartisan caucus will focus on the implementation of the strategy and ensure its goals are considered priorities for the United States.

The Trump Administration recognized the importance of this legislation and followed through by instituting a robust Women, Peace and Security Strategy across the United States government.  President Trump understands that, “Nations that empower women are much wealthier, safer, and much more politically stable.” 

The administration identified three strategic objectives that must be achieved. By 2023, there should be significant progress in the following areas: women are better prepared and able to participate in efforts that promote peace; women and girls are safer, better protected and have equal access to government and private assistance programs; the United States and its partner governments have improved institutionalization and capacity to make certain these efforts are long-lasting. 

This third anniversary is falling at a critical time. Today there are ongoing peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government. There are many seeking to undermine these talks and they are targeting Afghan women, hoping to eliminate the possibility of Afghan women’s rights being included in the final plan for peace.

The United States needs to stand behind the principles of the Women, Peace, and Security Act, its own government’s commitment and make certain Afghan women are not forgotten.