February 13, 2019

BLOG: Engaging Students to Advocate on Women, Peace, and Security Concerns

Feature Series: HoyasForShe Reflections

HoyasForShe fellow Rebecca Hinkhouse describes her project to mobilize students across campus to hold representatives on the Hill and government agencies accountable for implementing the Women, Peace, and Security Act.

GIWPS HoyasForShe fellow Rebecca Hinkhouse in front of the GIWPS building.
GIWPS HoyasForShe fellow Rebecca Hinkhouse in front of the GIWPS building.

This semester, I began my HoyasForShe Fellowship at the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security (GIWPS). GIWPS is a research institute that’s focused on gender and conflict, as well as promoting a broader understanding of women in the economy, society, and politics. GIWPS publishes their findings and hosts events to show how empowering women is not only the right thing to do, but a feasible and practical approach to conflict resolution, economic development, and more. 

I was drawn to GIWPS due to my academic focus on the role of women in peace processes. I have spent much of my undergraduate career researching the benefits of inclusive peace negotiations and how to overcome the barriers to women’s equal participation. One of these barriers is a lack of government understanding of how to advance and implement gender mainstreaming tools in development interventions or when playing mediation roles in conflicts. 

My project at GIWPS addresses this issue here in the United States. I am planning a legislative advocacy campaign to advance the women, peace, and security (WPS) agenda on Capitol Hill. Congress passed the Women, Peace, and Security Act in 2017, which recognized women’s centrality to successful conflict resolution and development worldwide. Additionally, the WPS Act mandated four government agencies—the Department of Defense, Department of State, Department of Homeland Security, and USAID—to provide implementation plans within one year of the law’s passage. All four agencies failed to meet this deadline, reflecting an uncertain future for the implementation of the WPS Act. 

The goal of my campaign is to mobilize students across campus to remind our representatives on the Hill of the importance of holding government agencies accountable for implementing the WPS Act. I hope to partner with a wide range of organizations on campus to reflect the diverse perspectives held by Georgetown students. What I have found is that all of the students and student groups I am working with support the WPS agenda for unique reasons related to their individual experiences and beliefs, but are united in their commitment to promoting women’s equality. This common mission will drive us forward as we lay the groundwork for an educational event and Hill trips later this semester. 

This project embodies the mission of HoyasForShe by offering an opportunity for students to learn more about the role of gender in international affairs and by giving them an opportunity to advocate on the issues that they are passionate about. I am excited to see the campaign come to life this semester and continue supporting the mission of GIWPS.

This post was prepared by Rebecca Hinkhouse (SFS'19) as part of the HoyasForShe Student Fellowship.