New Organization wants larger role for women of color in Global peace and security issues

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Left to right are: Asma Lateef, Director, Bread for the World Institute; Laila Hasan, Foreign Service Officer U.S. Department of State; Janelle J. Roberts, Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide US Holocaust Memorial Museum; and, Nicolette Louissaint Director, Healthcare Ready.

The launch of the Women of Color Advancing Peace, Security and Conflict Transformation (WCAPS), a new 501c3 nongovernmental organization, took place on December 7th, 2017 at the Truman Project on National Security in Washington, DC.

The launch provided an opportunity for the organization’s President and Founder, Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins, to present the vision, mission, and goals of the entity as well as some of the plans for the organization’s future activities.

WCAPS believes global issues demand a variety of perspectives, mainly by those who will best comprehend how policies will impact the most vulnerable. When those voices are not in the discussions, it is likely policies adopted will not have the intended effect, will instead have unintended consequences, and programs will not be sustainable.

Many growing threats in the areas of peace, security and conflict impact women of color (WOC) most significantly. Whether the problem is an infectious disease, poverty, peacekeeping, terrorism, climate change, chemical weapons use, or food and water security, women of color around the world are more directly affected by these global concerns.

However, international and national security, foreign policy, and other decision-making mechanisms are strongly lacking the voices of women of color. There is no significant or sustained voice from women of color who are also the caregivers, and the family and community foundation in many parts of the world. There must be a way to strengthen those absent viewpoints and to be more inclusive.

WCAPS is creating a platform devoted to women of color that cultivates a prominent voice and network for its members while encouraging dialogue and strategies for engaging in substantive policy discussions on an international scale. Since there is no consistent venue for women of color to meet and network, WCAPS will ignite collective voices and develop strategies for WOC to engage in discussions.

The organization also understands that there is a need to advance the leadership and professional development of women of color in the fields of international peace, security, and conflict transformation and to also focus on the next generation of women leaders through mentorships.

The launch event included a panel of amazing WOC who work in various areas of peace and security to include infectious disease, counter-terrorism, science and technology, and food security. Ambassador Jenkins highlighted several activities of the organization as WCAPS develops in the months and years ahead. Jenkins noted that WCAPS looks forward to hosting regular events to promote the goals of the organization.

It will also work closely with other like-minded organizations to host discussions and activities as a way to strengthen the voices of those not often heard. In so doing, it will also reach out to historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in its engagements.

WCAPS will be calling for members to take leadership roles in developing substantive policy exchanges on issues of peace and security. WCAPS will post blogs, articles and other policy related pieces written by WOC members to help publicize the work of such experts. WCAPS will grow its membership and in so doing, become a place where other organizations can go to for locating WOC who can provide expertise in various forums.

The initiative will conduct podcasts and webinars with prominent WOC in the fields of interest to the organization. The initiative will also register to attend official government multilateral meetings to help ensure the voices of WOC are in relevant substantive discussions. As a case in point, just recently, WCAPS registered as a nongovernmental organization (NGO) at the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC) Meeting of States Parties that took place in Geneva, Switzerland from December 4-8, 2017.

WCAPS made an official statement at the meeting and endorsed a Joint NGO Statement. WCAPS also hosted a side event on BWC’s connection to other global issues of concern, such as infectious disease, the Sustainable Development Goals, and UNSCR 1540.

Finally, WCAPS has established a Young Ambassadors Program (YAP) for outreach to young WOC to engage them in policy discussions and network with other next generation intiatives. WCAPS will also work with the YAP to create a mentorship program.

To learn more about the vision and goals of this new organization, please visit the website at www.wcaps.org

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