Ana Mingo, of the Brussels Binder, observes that women hold half of the human experience, half of our expertise, our richness as a society. Yet across public policy-making landscapes, from conference panels, to business conventions to lecture lecterns, to media appearances, female voices continue to be underrepresented. Women participating at an equal level is not a cosmetic nice-to-have. Having 50% women on every panel has the capacity to transform our debates and uncover new solutions to policy challenges. Focusing on diversity of panels helps to identify female role models, increase exposure of experts, and facilitate networking opportunities. Our mission is to bring their voices out and deliver a win/win for everyone.
Hubert Foy, Director & Senior Research Scientist at the African Centre for Science and International Security (AFRICSIS), explains that to bring positive change, we must acknowledge that women bring a unique perspective to security efforts. It starts by changing the status quo and empowering women in leadership positions and promoting their work. To implement change, we must adopt policies that enhance gender balance and create incentives for women to actively pursue careers in nuclear science and security. In Africa, we have limited personnel in the face of massive nuclear related issues and commitments. We must collectively determine how to include those people who do not usually have the opportunity to participate.
Corey Hinderstein, WINS Board Member and a Vice President at the Nuclear Threat Initiative, maintains that we must have structures in place to enable and embolden women; we cannot just assume that we are creating a supportive environment. Communicating positive policies and procedures on gender helps to make clear to what the organization’s expectations are, which can inspire those who experience or witness inappropriate actions to come forward and have confidence that they will be heard. These policies should include implementing SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely) pledges, such as those called for under the Gender Champions initiatives, to measure the starting point on gender related issues, track progress and ensure accountability.
Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins, founder of Women of Color Advancing Peace and Security (WCAPS), stresses the importance of a significant and sustained voice representing and advancing women of color. It is important to discuss and develop strategies for targeting issues of diversity and inclusion in the fields of foreign policy and conflict resolution, because women of color are often the most affected by threats to peace and security. They are also community leaders in many parts of the world and can meaningfully and compellingly contribute to the leadership and professional development of other women. People need to see people that look like them, in order to recognize that they too have a place at the table.