Legislation introduced by U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD) to enhance the role of women in peace talks and conflict prevention gained unanimous House approval on Monday and will advance to the president’s desk for consideration.

The Women, Peace, and Security Act of 2017 would require U.S. policymakers to develop a strategy to give women a larger role in peace negotiations and efforts to prevent or resolve violent conflicts. Noem introduced the bill with U.S. Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and it passed the Senate in August.

“When America’s security depends on the success of peace negotiations, we must make sure every proven conflict prevention tactic is on the table,” Noem said. “We know women can be influential forces in producing lasting peace, yet we’re often underrepresented when it comes to conflict prevention and resolution. With this legislation, we can better ensure women are able to use their influence to produce more sustainable outcomes during future conflict resolution and peace negotiation processes.”

Speaking in support of the bill on the House floor, U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said the measure culminated from years of bipartisan efforts to bring about sustainable solutions to end wars, fight terrorism and improve human rights abroad.

“Simply put, when women are at the negotiating table, peace is more likely,” Royce said.

When women are involved in peace agreements, research by the nonprofit Inclusive Security indicates that the agreements are 35 percent more likely to last at least 15 years.

“Women peacemakers often press warring parties to move beyond mere power-sharing agreements, which benefit only a small percentage of fighters, to more comprehensive and longer-term accords, which benefit the civilian population as a whole,” Royce said. “We have seen this play out from Colombia to Rwanda to Sri Lanka, where women’s groups have pushed for practical solutions to de-escalate and resolve conflict.”

Capito and Shaheen have cited Council on Foreign Relations data that showed just 9 percent of peace negotiators were women between 1992 and 2011, and fewer than 4 percent of peace agreement signatories were women.

“Women are effective problem-solvers and mediators, yet they are often excluded from peacekeeping and mediation efforts,” Capito said in August. “As women continue to assume more leadership roles in international affairs, this legislation will help build on that momentum and promote their inclusion in peace processes.”

Shaheen, meanwhile, noted that women are disproportionately affected by violence and armed conflict but are often under-represented at the negotiation table.

“This bipartisan legislation makes ending violence against women and girls a top diplomatic, development, and foreign assistance priority, empowering more women and allowing them to more effectively affect change in our world,” Shaheen said.

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