Obama inks U.S. action plan promoting women and peace

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 19, 2011 2:08 PM
Obama inks U.S. action plan promoting women and peace

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama released a U.S. plan on Monday to promote the role of women in preventing conflict and keeping the peace, designed to get more women seated at negotiating tables around the world.

Obama ordered key agencies to pursue this goal through a broad range of objectives that include training, protecting women and children from violence and directly fostering their involvement in the peace process.

"The documents represent a fundamental change in how the United States will approach its diplomatic, military and development-based support to women in areas of conflict," the White House said in a statement.

The United States joins some 30 other countries that have developed plans on women, peace and stability since a 2000 U.N. Security Council resolution that required women's rights to be respected in peace negotiations.

"We want to take it on the road and breathe new life into the whole movement," a senior administration official said, adding that the plan had been 14 months in the making.

The move follows Obama's decision on December 6 to instruct U.S. diplomats and foreign aid workers to do more to advance gay rights abroad as part of his administration's efforts to promote U.S. human rights policy.

U.N. data last year found women represent less than 10 percent of those at the table as either a peace negotiator or mediator in the world's major conflicts.

"Our efforts at peacebuilding are stronger ... when women - 50 percent of the world's population and more than 50 percent of populations in some war-torn areas - have a say in how societies rebuild," the official said.

Obama's executive order directs key agencies, including the military, State Department and U.S. Agency for International development, to appoint senior officers to monitor progress and report back to the president's national security adviser, anchoring the process at a senior level in the White House.

Officials said the goal was to make the promotion of women involvement in post-conflict situations an automatic part of the U.S. government's approach.

As a result, U.S. combatant commanders will have an officer dedicated to gender issues to ensure the protection of women is central to planning, while U.S. diplomats will emphasize the need to bring woman into the political process in their work.

"Enabling women to have a voice alongside those of men in matters of international peace and security is the right thing to do," the official said.

The action plan is not expected to require any immediate additional funding requests, officials said.

(Reporting by Alister Bull; editing by Bill Trott)