United States of America

The United States (US) adopted its most recent Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) action plan in 2019, for the period 2019-2023, in the form of a WPS National Strategy. The Strategy was the result of the Women, Peace, and Security Act of 2017 (signed into law on October 6, 2017), which mandated a government wide strategy on WPS within one year, focused on the increased participation of women in conflict prevention and peacebuilding efforts.

The strategy identifies three strategic objectives that focus on increasing women’s preparedness and ability to participate in efforts to promote lasting peace; ensuring the safety and protection of women and girls, including access to government and private assistance programs; and improving institutionalization and capacity to ensure sustainable WPS efforts. Each strategic objective identifies corresponding actions and goals.  The strategy does not have an allocated budget, tasking individual departments to estimate their resource requirements. 

In follow-up to the adoption of the National Strategy, the US Departments of State, Defense, Homeland Security, and Agency for International Development have released detailed implementation plans with further information about how each agency will approach and implement the mandated provisions of the WPS Act and Strategy.

The US national strategy on WPS was preceded by two National Action Plans (NAP) adopted in 2011 and 2016 for the period 2011-2015 and 2016-2018, respectively. The first two NAPs are similar in level of detail and areas of focus, identifying five overall thematic objectives: national integration and institutionalization; participation in peace processes and decision-making; protection from violence; conflict prevention; and access to relief and recovery. The US WPS Strategy is significantly shorter than the US NAPs, and does not acknowledge the previously implemented NAPs in its introduction or the remainder of the document. While all three documents approach the WPS agenda through the prism of achieving national and global security, the WPS strategy specifically highlights that the US engagement with “WPS principles at the global level will be selective” and “in ways that advance America’s national interests” (p. 6). Both the WPS NAPs and the WPS Strategy approach the implementation of the WPS agenda mostly internationally, with the domestic component focusing on gender integration and training across defense and security institutions. 

The US has engaged in military interventions outside of its borders throughout the country’s history, and is presently engaged in military operations in several locations around the world, such as Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq. The US also has numerous permanent military bases abroad and participates in joint training operations in places such as Poland, Ukraine, Kuwait, South Korea, Japan, Yemen, and Somalia, as well as being a major troop contributor to NATO. 

The US is the world’s largest military spender, with over $700 billion spent on its military budget alone in 2019 (excluding intelligence, nuclear weapons expenditure, and the Department of Homeland Security). It is also a nuclear-armed state, the world’s largest supplier of arms, and home country for a significant portion of the growing private military contracting industry. While in 2013 the US signed the Arms Trade Treaty, which regulates the flow of weapons across international borders, the US government in 2019 informed the UN Secretary-General that the US does not intend to become a party to the treaty. 

The US is a large aid contributor, including a partner of the Call to Action on Protection from Gender-Based Violence in Emergencies, a multi-stakeholder initiative that aims to mitigate and provide accountability for gender-based violence in humanitarian emergencies. The US also holds considerable influence in world banking institutions

At the multilateral level, the US is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, holding veto power on all Council decisions.  


Not Ratified

Global Gender Gap Index 2020

53 out of 153

Arms Trade Treaty Signed 2013

Announced withdrawal 2019

Military expenditure (2019)

$732 billion USD

Explore United States of America's National Action Plan

  • Actors
  • Timeframe
  • Objectives
  • Actions/Activities
  • Indicators
  • M&E
  • Budget
  • Disarmament

NAP Development 

The WPS Strategy does not indicate civil society inclusion in the development of the document.

WILPF was not involved in the development of the US WPS Strategy.

The WPS Strategy does not have a clear indication of which government actors were involved in the development of the Strategy. 

NAP Implementation

The WPS Strategy mentions civil society twice in Lines of Effort 3 and 4 (pp. 12-13), emphasizing that the sustainability of the Strategy will require the support of non-governmental entities and organizations, including civil society. However, the WPS Strategy does not specifically indicate how civil society will be included in the Strategy’s implementation. 

The WPS Strategy indicates that the key departments and agencies that will implement the Strategy include, but are not limited to, the Department of State (DoS), Department of Defense (DoD), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).  Each of these agencies have developed detailed implementation plans for WPS activities.

NAP Monitoring and Evaluation

The WPS Strategy does not indicate civil society inclusion in the monitoring and evaluation of the Strategy. 

The WPS Strategy indicates that individual departments and agencies will be responsible for developing “measurable goals, benchmarks, and timetables for their WPS initiatives” (p. 15).

Further detail about this implementation is available in the relevant strategies for each agency.

The implementation period for the WPS Strategy is four years (2019-2023). 

The WPS Strategy identifies “women’s political empowerment and equality … whereby women can meaningfully participate in preventing, mediating, and resolving conflict and countering terrorism, in ways that promote stable and lasting peace, including in conflict-affected areas” (p.5) as the overarching goal of the United States WPS Strategy: 

The WPS Strategy identifies the following three strategic objectives to work towards the above mentioned end state: 

  • Women are more prepared and increasingly able to participate in efforts that promote stable and lasting peace;
  • Women and girls are safer, better protected, and have equal access to government and private assistance programs, including from the United States, international partners, and host nations; and
  • United States and partner governments have improved institutionalization and capacity to ensure WPS efforts are sustainable and long-lasting.

The WPS Strategy identifies four “lines of effort” to help “synchronize and prioritize” (pp. 5-6) actions to achieve the three overarching strategic objectives: 

  • Line of Effort 1: Seek and support the preparation and meaningful participation of women around the world in decision-making processes related to conflict and crises;
  • Line of Effort 2: Promote the protection of women and girls’ human rights; access to humanitarian assistance; and safety from violence, abuse, and exploitation around the world;
  • Line of Effort 3: Adjust United States international programs to improve outcomes in equality for, and the empowerment of women; and
  • Line of Effort 4: Encourage partner governments to adopt policies, plans, and capacity to improve the meaningful participation of women in processes connected to peace and security and decision-making institutions.

Each line of effort has a corresponding goal, possible barriers to the implementation of the goal, and a strategic approach, broken down into multiple stages of implementation with corresponding activities: 1) All phases, 2) Preventing conflict and preparing for disasters, 3) Managing, mitigating, and resolving conflict and crisis, and 4) Post-conflict and post-crisis relief and recovery. For example, Line of Effort 1 listed above has the following activities included for all phases:

  • Encourage the increased, meaningful participation of women in security-sector initiatives funded by the United States Government, including programs that provide training to foreign nationals regarding law enforcement, the rule of law, and professional military education. United States courses that historically attract only male international students from certain countries or regions should consider ways to incentivize the inclusion of female students as well.
  • Integrate women’s perspectives and interests into conflict prevention, conflict-resolution, and post conflict peace-building activities and strategies, including women from under-represented groups, via consultation with local women leaders in the design, implementation, and evaluation of United States initiatives;
  • Encourage the inclusion of women leaders and women’s organizations in the prevention and resolution of conflict, and in post-conflict peace-building efforts. Where appropriate, United States diplomatic, military, and development interventions will lead by example through inclusion of American women in such efforts, and will engage local women leaders as vital partners, including through support that advances their meaningful political participation and empowerment, capacity, credibility, and professional development; and
  • Use relevant analysis and indicators, including the collection of sex-disaggregated data, to identify and address barriers to women’s meaningful participation in the prevention and resolution of conflict, and in post-conflict peace-building efforts and programs, including early warning systems related to conflict and violence.

The WPS Strategy does not identify specific indicators other than stating that the “Administration will commit to rigorously track and report on metrics across the interagency on an annual basis” (p. 15).

Indicators are provided in the departmental implementation plans that were mandated by the 2017 WPS Act.

The WPS Strategy does not identify specific indicators for the strategic objectives either, with the exception of mentioning examples of indicators for one of the illustrative activities of Line of Effort 1, which reads:   

“Use relevant analysis and indicators, including the collection of sex-disaggregated data, to identify and address barriers to women’s meaningful participation in the prevention and resolution of conflict, and in post-conflict peace-building efforts and programs, including early warning systems related to conflict and violence” (p. 8).

The WPS Strategy tasks individual departments and agencies with developing “measurable goals, benchmarks, and timetables” (p. 15). The Strategy identifies an overarching, multi-tier timeline for the overall implementation of the US WPS Strategy: 

  • No later than 90 days after this Strategy goes into effect, departments and agencies will nominate criteria to the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (APNSA) for inclusion in a United States Government-wide WPS framework for monitoring and evaluating programs. 
  • Within 120 days of the approval of this WPS Strategy, State, DOD, DHS, and USAID shall each develop, in coordination with the APNSA and Office of Management and Budget, and provide to the Congress a detailed, consolidated implementation plan. 
  • Not later than 1 year after submission of this strategy, the Secretary of State, in conjunction with the Secretary of Defense and the Administrator of USAID, shall brief the appropriate Congressional Committees on existing, enhanced, or newly established training for relevant United States personnel on the participation of women in conflict-prevention and peace building.
  • Not later than 2 years after submission of this strategy, the Secretary of State, in conjunction with the Secretary of Defense and the Administrator of USAID shall submit to the APNSA, and be prepared to brief the appropriate Congressional Committees on, a report that summarizes and evaluates departments’ and agencies’ implementation plans; describes the nature and extent of interagency coordination on implementation; outlines the monitoring and evaluation on policy objectives; and describes existing, enhanced, or newly established training.

There is a section on resourcing, which indicates that resources will be allocated to each department and agency for the implementation of the strategy.

The WPS Strategy acknowledges that armed conflicts have a unique and “disproportionate, adverse impact” on women and girls (p. 5). Nevertheless, despite the US position as a leader in global arms trade and military spending, the revised WPS Strategy does not discuss disarmament or demilitarization of the country’s budget.

Documents and Further Reading

Submission to the Universal Periodic Review of the United States of America (WILPF, 2019)
Security Council Scorecard on Women, Peace and Security: Lessons Learned from 2010-2016
Women, Peace and Security Act of 2017 (Public Law 115-68)
The Department of State’s Plan To Implement the U.S. Strategy on Women, Peace, and Security
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