OSF Highlights the Crucial Role of Women in Diplomacy in the WPS Agenda

Our Secure Future
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The elections of Claudia Sheinbaum as Mexico's first female President and Halla Tomasdottir as Iceland's second female President signal a rising tide of women's leadership in diplomacy worldwide. This shift is crucial, as research consistently shows that gender-balanced teams make better decisions, leading to more sustainable and inclusive outcomes.

Women's leadership styles often emphasize inclusivity and collaboration, bringing unique perspectives and experiences to address today's multifaceted global challenges. However, women remain significantly underrepresented in diplomatic and ambassadorial roles – in 2023, only 20.54% of all ambassadors and permanent representatives worldwide were women. Including women in diplomacy is, therefore, a strategic imperative for effective global governance.

Furthermore, research consistently demonstrates that gender-balanced teams make better decisions, leading to more sustainable and inclusive outcomes. For instance, when women participate in peace negotiations, the likelihood of reaching an agreement increases, and peace agreements are 35% more likely to endure for at least 15 years.

Our Secure Future (OSF) knows that women's full participation in decision-making can improve security outcomes for everyone. That's why OSF's core work advances women's participation in diplomacy and security decision-making.

Gendered Voices in Climate Diplomacy

One key area necessitating an enhanced role for women is climate diplomacy. Climate change disproportionately affects women and girls. To put things into perspective, the United Nations estimates that around 80% of those displaced by climate change are women and girls. A UN report released during the COP28 Summit furthermore predicted that an additional 158 million women and girls may be pushed into poverty due to climate change by 2050, and more than 230 million will face food insecurity.

In south and southeast Asia, where 71% of women are employed in agrifood systems, climate related disasters such as floods, droughts and heatwaves have caused billions in loss in crop and livestock production and a significant loss in livelihood for women. Economic strain on households have been tied to increased incidence of child marriage and school drop-out for girls, as well as community-based tensions and risk of gender-based violence. Infrastructure damage created by climate emergencies likewise limits access to critical resources, including sexual and reproductive healthcare.

Ensuring women's participation in climate diplomacy therefore avoids reinforcing existing inequalities. By amplifying women's voices in climate policy discussions, chronically marginalized and underrepresented groups' experiences and solutions to address the negative impacts of climate change can be considered alongside internal policy considerations, helping to create more resilient and effective climate policies.

Women, Peace and Security is the Foundation of an Effective Feminist Foreign Policy

Women, Peace and Security is essential for promoting gender equality and improving diplomatic efforts because it rests on more than two decades of international policy and legal commitments to advance women's rights and international security. For example, international agreement on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security (WPS) are international commitments that all countries accept and adhere to the global commons. In order for governments to effectively implement the WPS agenda through national commitments to women's rights and gender equality, they must consider and adopt structural reforms, ensuring greater representation of women and the use of gender analyses in foreign policy and national security decisions. All these actions help to create an effective feminist approach to foreign policy, development policy and security and defense policy.

Feminist foreign policy is part of a broader movement of Women, Peace and Security. It is true that western governments such as Sweden, Canada, and Mexico have adopted a "feminist foreign policy agenda" and that these policy agendas firmly rest on the foundation provided by decades of work and the established policy architecture of Women, Peace and Security. These countries and others have adopted policies that highlight gender equality and the participation of women's voices in diplomatic efforts. Beyond simple gender parity, such policies likewise prioritize gender sensitivity and the necessary examination of policy implications on the perpetuation of inequality.

Recognising Women's Contributions

Women have made impactful contributions to ceasefires, peace processes, post-conflict reconstruction and transitional justice. For example, in 2003, a women-led peace movement successfully staged mass nonviolent protests and sit-ins to force an end to the civil war in Liberia. Following the eruption of conflict in the Tigray region in 2020, the Ethiopian Women Peacebuilders Network a coalition of leading women's peacebuilding organizations provided community-based peacebuilding and conflict resolution training, and supported the development and coordination of localized peace projects. A similar country-wide assortment of women-led peace initiatives, humanitarian efforts, and civil society organizations coalesced in Sudan after 2023 to catalyze collective advocacy efforts for peace.

Despite these contributions, women's achievements are often overlooked. OSF's initiatives therefore aim to shed light on women's much-needed role in shaping global policies. In order to realize this goal, however, there is a need to advance gender equality in diplomacy.

Promoting Gender Equality in Diplomacy

Today, women remain significantly underrepresented in diplomatic roles. Women hold only 25% of ministerial positions in foreign affairs and 26.5% of parliamentary seats worldwide. Furthermore, as of 2023, women comprise only 20.54% of ambassadors and permanent representatives worldwide.

Combating these disparities is one of the goals of Women, Peace and Security National Action Plans, which include measures to increase women's participation in diplomacy. Advocating for the implementation of these plans creates a more equitable diplomatic landscape for everyone.

For example, diversifying representation in diplomatic roles to increase the number of women will reflect a variety of perspectives and address the needs of all communities. Another important step is to prioritize gender in information collection and analysis, which involves integrating gender perspectives into data collection and policy analysis processes. This way, foreign policy decisions are informed by a comprehensive understanding of gender dynamics.

Educational and Awareness Initiatives of OSF

Our Secure Future's mission to advance Women, Peace and Security raises awareness about the importance of women's participation in diplomatic efforts and the need for gender-inclusive policies through publications, podcasts, and public events. The organization also hosts public events and webinars that provide platforms for women leaders to share their experiences and insights.

OSF also helps create a global network of WPS stakeholders who can collaborate on peace and security initiatives, such as academic institutions, civil society organizations, and government agencies, to conduct research and advocate for policies that promote gender equality in diplomacy. These partnerships help create a more coordinated framework for advancing the WPS agenda.

Moreover, Our Secure Future's team of high level experts focuses on capacity building and training for women leaders. This develops the skills and knowledge they need to participate effectively in diplomatic efforts.

When women are part of diplomatic conversations, it creates a more just and secure world.
As the world continues to face complex global challenges, the role of women in diplomacy will only become more important. OSF is helping ensure this, with initiatives that, when sustained, bring a more peaceful and secure world.