Peace & Security Negotiations

There are not many countries that have a woman as a foreign minister. United States is an exception in having consecutively three very competent female foreign ministers (Secretaries of States): Madelene Albright, Condolessa Rice, and Hillary Clinton. It is encouraging to read in the August 22 Washington Post an article by Mary Beth Sheridan – in nuclear negotiations more women are at the table for the United States. She conveyed good news that women now hold many key senior positions at the Pentagon and the White House. And that they occupied between 21 and 29 percent of the senior positions at the State Department and other national security and foreign policy agencies. Does it make a difference to content when women negotiate national and international security and peace issues? Some people thought it does not, for the reason that whether the negotiators are male or female, government officials have to follow instruction in speakig on behalf of the government. They said that gender was not an issue there. But I disagree with them. Public perception of women with political power does make a difference to the goal of gender equality and democracy. In todays world, educated women are as concern about issues of national and international security as the men. And they know that they can make a difference to the foreign policy content and cooperation. It is not that I beleive in the myth that women are more peace-loving than men. In all my years of working internationally, I have come across an equal proportion of aggressive behavior of men and women. And history has also shown that women and men have an equal share in creating conflic within their community and in the outside world. I think that both sexes have to be equally responsible to end conflict by engaging in negotiation for a peaceful outcome.Ten years ago, the United Nations Security Council passed a landmark Resolution1325 on Women, Peace and Security. It is a roadmap to promote women’s full engagement in peace and security negotiations. But up to now only 20 countries have adopted the Plan of Action on its implementation. The male government leaders have not shown interested to work with women on security matter. For example, in nuclear negotiation between United States and Russia, in surprise, a Russian general asked the American team led by a woman, “How come you‘ve got so many women?”. Most countries find it hard to appoint qualified women to work at senior level in foreign affairs, national defense, Intelligence, law enforcement and international relations, the fields that few women choose to study and to make their career in a male-dominated working environment with long hours of work and travel. Only a few women without family responsibility can endure such hardship, thrive in it, and advance to the top senior level.

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