Grantee & Partner News

February 2, 2017

Do women matter to national security? The men who lead U.S. foreign policy don’t think so.

Grantee News From New America:

The Washington Post

By Joshua Busby and Heather Hurlburt

During the Obama administration, women moved ahead in the U.S. national security infrastructure. They held record numbers of senior national security jobs; in the military, they won the right to serve in combat positions. Researchers found that nations with higher rates of violence against women also had higher risks of conflict and instability and that when women were part of peacemaking, that peace was more durable. The United Nations’ Women, Peace and Security initiatives sought to put these insights into action globally.

Incoming Trump administration officials, on the other hand, have suggested that gender- and other development-focused programming detracts from a focus on U.S. security and have signaled hostility toward U.N. efforts, such as considering gender in security efforts.

In the United States at least, Trump’s team is not unusual according to our new survey of nearly 500 U.S. foreign policy leaders. This establishment remains overwhelmingly male and thinks quite differently about the importance of gender in national security efforts. Further, national security policymakers, particularly men, appear uninformed about the latest research that shows how women’s social status predicts stability and how ensuring that women are involved in building peace and democracy results in more stable and secure nations.

How we did our research

Under the aegis of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the Texas National Security Network, we recently surveyed nearly 500 leaders working for U.S. institutions on foreign policy on a wide range of topics. We drew those leaders from the federal executive branch, Congress, think tanks, academia, media, business, labor unions, religious organizations and interest groups. With the collaboration of the think tank New America, we included several gender-related questions — marking the first time foreign policy elites have been polled on the topic.

Our sample was 80 percent male — because that’s who makes up the U.S. foreign-policy establishment. For instance, we identified the top foreign policy-related think tanks in the United States, as defined by the University of Pennsylvania’s Global Go to Think Tank Index. Because we wanted to know what the U.S. foreign-policy establishment thinks, we had careful — if broad — criteria for who we surveyed. We sought senior people, not research assistants or associates. Of the 116 think tank professionals who responded to our survey, 75 percent were men. That’s in line with the proportions of men and women in the more than 800 people who received the online survey.

Why should foreign-policy professionals consider gender differences in their work?

Political science makes a strong case. Across all our differences, most Americans share a desire to see less violence in the world — and less expenditure of U.S. lives and treasure to combat it. Newer studies suggest tantalizing links among such things as community status of young men, bride prices and the attainability of marriage, and conflict. The practice of paying a woman’s family before marriage, it turns out, marks not just her value in money but also the man’s. If the going rate for a bride is far beyond what poor men can attain, some will more readily take up violence, crime or extremism to gain access to resources and the social status that comes with marriage — and from Pakistan to North Africa, extremist groups use this to recruit.

This data comes atop decades of studies showing that women’s empowerment — the ability to influence one’s own  fate and play a role in shaping one’s community — makes those communities healthier, better educated, and more prosperous.

But the U.S. foreign-policy establishment appears unaware of these researched insights — with large gaps between men and women

Our respondents had a very general awareness of what is by now a business-school truism — that diverse teams, with women and other historically underrepresented groups at the policymaking tables, result in better outcomes. Within that general lack of knowledge, we found a large gap in attitudes about women’s empowerment and the importance of gender concerns more broadly between men and women, and between Republicans and Democrats.

Overall, 13 percent of our respondents thought gender inequality internationally is a vital threat to U.S. national interests. But that differs dramatically by sex: 20 percent of women while fewer than 9 percent of men think so.

We also asked respondents if they considered women and girls’ full participation in their societies to be an important foreign-policy goal. Nearly 31 percent said it was very important. But, again, there were gaps: 28 percent of men thought so, compared with 45 percent of women.

Compare this with attitudes toward preventing the spread of nuclear weapons, which 80 percent of the sample said was a very important goal.

We also asked respondents questions about the relevance of gender for specific issues, as you can see in the figure below. We first asked people how often they consider the different effects of policies on men and women in their work. 17 percent said always. Here, too, there were gaps between men and women: 14 percent of men said always, compared with 26 percent of women.

We then asked whether policies should be checked in advance to see whether they would affect men and women differently. For instance, a peace process that assumes rebel fighters will be integrated into national armed forces but doesn’t consider whether and how those forces permit women to serve, leaves female fighters marginalized and impoverished — and potentially dangerous, as the activities of female militias in Sierra Leone in 2002 showed. More>

Joshua Busby is an associate professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas in Austin. Find him on Twitter @busbyj2 

Heather Hurlburt runs the New Models of Policy Change project at New America, building on two decades of experience in advocacy and executive and legislative branch foreign policymaking. Find her on Twitter @natsecHeather.

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January 27, 2017

2017 People’s State of the Union Kicks Off Tomorrow!

Grantee News From US Department of Arts and Culture:

We The People deserve to be heard. The news has had its chance. The new president will have too many chances. Now it is our turn.

Starting tomorrow and running through February 5th, the USDAC and partners host the 2017 People’s State of the Union—a participatory civic ritual where every story matters.

#PSOTU17 events are popping up all across the country. This action map shows public PSOTU events; see if there’s one to attend near you.


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January 13, 2017

Our First 100 Days!

Grantee News From Revolutions Per Minute:

Our First 100 Days seeks to aid in that protection. Joining together with artists and labels we will be releasing one rare, unreleased or exclusive song per day to you via Bandcamp.

For a minimum contribution of $30, supporters will be able to access all 100 songs in the project, including new music from Angel Olsen, How To Dress Well, Toro Y Moi, The Range and many more.

All profits raised from Our First 100 Days will go directly to organizations working on the front lines of climate, women’s rights, immigration and fairness.

The project was started in conjunction with Secretly Group and 30 Songs, 30 Days, and aims to raise funds and awareness for organizations supporting causes that are under threat by the proposed policies of a Trump administration. This project is produced with the help of Revolutions Per Minute, an organization that provides strategy and support for artists making change.


The People’s Climate Movement

The People’s Climate Movement is seizing the first 100 days of the Trump Administration as our own and putting all of our energy toward stopping Trump and Congress’ attacks on our climate, our communities, and our jobs and advance our vision of new American economy that protects our planet and people.


All Above All 

All Above All unites organizations and individuals to build support for lifting the bans that deny abortion coverage. Our vision is to restore public insurance coverage so that every woman, however much she makes, can get affordable, safe abortion care when she needs it.



Cosecha is a nonviolent movement fighting for the permanent protection, dignity and respect for all undocumented immigrants in the United States. We know our power lies in our people, not the political system that has failed us for decades. We are building towards a national boycott and general strike that will show the dependency of this country on the labor and consumer power of the immigrant community.


Southerners On New Ground

Southerners On New Ground (SONG) is a regional Queer Liberation organization made up of people of color, immigrants, undocumented people, people with disabilities, working class and rural and small town, LGBTQ people in the South. We believe that we are bound together by a shared desire for ourselves, each other, and our communities to survive and thrive. We believe that Community Organizing is the best way for us to build collective power and transform the South. Out of this belief we are committed to building freedom movements rooted in southern traditions like community organizing, political education, storytelling, music, breaking bread, resistance, humor, performance, critical thinking, and celebration.


Hoosier Action

Hoosier Action is a new project focused on building the political power of working families and individuals in the state of Indiana. Hoosier Action emphasizes robust community organizing, where campaigns are built around economic and social issues that impact people and communities across the region. Hoosier Action will work to increase voter participation, lift people out of poverty, and build a new political voice for the residents of Indiana who have been left on the margins.


Revolutions Per Minute

Revolutions Per Minute (RPM) is a nonprofit agency that provides artists with strategy and support for their activism and philanthropy. RPM was founded in 2005 with an understanding that while all artists have an unparalleled ability to effect positive change in the world, engaged and well-resourced artists do it better. Artists’ deep and enduring connection with their audiences gives them extraordinary power to shift public opinion; raise funds and awareness for worthy causes; and inspire energy and enthusiasm toward action. RPM engages and inspires the artists so that when they act, they are doing so in the most strategic ways possible — ways that amplify the existing messages and strategies of movements and generate vital resources. We believe smart strategies and steady support help artists realize their full potential as powerful agents of change.

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January 9, 2017

Five Steps to a Feminist Foreign Policy

Grantee News From Ms. Magazine:

The Chinese have a proverb: “May you live in interesting times.” This is also meant to be a curse. How true for 2016.

To the shock of many, a wave of populist backlash and economic fury led to Brexit in the U.K. and a campaign based on racism, xenophobia and fear has propelled Donald Trump to the White House. Meanwhile, we have witnessed millions of refugees seeking to escape horrific violence and oppression in their homelands and Syria has unraveled into a massacre of civilians while we watch, powerless, on social media and the world stands by without action.  We indeed live in uncertain, insecure and tragic times.

Today, in the United States of America, we need a feminist foreign policy more than ever.

A “feminist foreign policy” is a framework for pursuing global peace and security that recognizes the impact of U.S. foreign policy on every person in the countries where we engage. This is not partisan and it is not political. As Margot Wallstrom, the Swedish Foreign Minister and architect of Sweden’s current foreign policy recently articulated:

[T]his will make America great again: if he [Trump] includes women and makes sure he works for gender equality. Without it, he will not be able to make America great again. It is smart policy. It is not just the right thing to do.

Yes, it should be done because it is right and it is smart. We’ve known it for a while.

The U.S. has already taken some important steps to put some of the principles of feminism into action, such as the National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security, which recognizes – based on mounds of evidence from countries around the world — that “engagement and protection of women as agents of peace and stability will be central to the United States’ efforts to promote security, prevent, respond to and resolve conflict and rebuild societies.”

Feminist foreign policy can be and should be a goal for the United States of America. The next administration should build on what has been learned about the correlations between equality, participation and peace. These are the five steps they have to take in order to do it.

1. Ask how American actions will affect women, men, girls and boys around the world differently. 

Feminist foreign policy includes both gender parity and gender sensitivity as two core policy objectives. Increasing the opportunities of women to serve in leadership roles is an essential step, yet it is only half of the equation. Gender sensitivity requires a deeper examination of the impact of American actions on the ground and an avoidance of policies that perpetuate inequality.

2. Recognize that gender equality is central to American leadership.

Feminist foreign policy reflects an understanding that women’s roles and rights are central to the challenges we face today. Women and children are the majority of those displaced by wars and disasters. Radical ideologies view women’s rights as a threat and brutally target those who speak out. On the flipside, gender equality increases the effectiveness of peace and security strategies. According to the Global Study on 1325, when women are included, there is a 35 percent increase in the probability of a peace agreement lasting 15 years.”

3. Uphold global women’s rights principles.

Feminist foreign policy prioritizes the full implementation of international and national commitments to advance human rights—that includes gender equality. UN Security Council Resolution 1325 recognizes the importance of women and gender perspectives in peace and security. The U.S. is committed to integrating these principles throughout its policies. America can further demonstrate its leadership on human rights by ratifying the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

4. Engage in diplomacy with civil society.Listen to women activists around the world.

Feminist foreign policy embraces the first-hand knowledge of women on the frontlines of the struggle for peace and security. They are today’s real superheroes, but they remain virtually invisible to the American foreign policy establishment. Global networks like the International Civil Society Action NetworkWorld Pulse and the Women’s Regional Network, should be consulted regularly.

5. Appoint leaders—men and women—who are champions of gender equality.

Feminist foreign policy includes men. Gender parity is important, but a feminist foreign policy also expands leadership opportunities for both women and men who actively support gender equality goals. At the heart of every feminist—man or woman—is the desire for equality and freedom. A feminist foreign policy strives for freedom from want and freedom from fear, for all people.

Sahana Dharmapuri is the Director of Our Secure Future: Women Make the Difference, at One Earth Future Foundation in Colorado.



Jolynn Shoemaker is a consultant and writer who focuses on women, peace and security and women’s leadership in foreign policy. 

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November 18, 2016


Grantee News WomanStats/Texas A&M University:


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When Justin Trudeau was elected prime minister of Canada and appointed a precedent-shattering 50:50 ratio of male and female appointees to his cabinet, his pithy comment was, “It’s 2015.”

Unfortunately, under a Trump administration, the U.S. is looking more like the 1970s. Fewer women are being considered by Trump for leadership positions than in any other administration since President Gerald Ford.

That’s not just politically incorrect—it will lead to poorer decision making. And given that Trump has said he plans to expand the U.S. military and take a harder-line approach towards adversaries such as ISIS, it’s also potentially dangerous.

Teams that include women are less over-confident, make less risky decisions, and are more focused on problem solving than ego concerns. Including women may well be most important in the security sector, for research shows that all-male groups are far more aggressive in experimental wargaming simulations.

During the campaign, Trump had pressed his progressive hiring practices, with pronouncementsthat Trump companies employed more women than men in executive positions—a claim some media organizations said was untrue. While Trump and his daughter Ivanka proudly proclaimed their hiring strategy for the new administration as one that selects “the most qualified” people for the job, media reports suggest he has almost no qualified women under consideration. This isn’t just politically incorrect. It’s also bad for the country.

Although 43 percent of women voters—and 52 percent of white women—defied pollsters to help usher him into elected office, our president-elect’s inner circle is stunningly homogenous: virtually all white and male, including loyalists Newt Gingrich, Chris Christie, Steve Gannon Jeff Sessions and Rudy Giuliani. And names being bandied about Washington right now only reinforce the lack of diversity, with no women’s names even mentioned as remote possibilities for the what are typically considered to be the most important positions, such as Treasury and State.

The New York Times is reporting 48 serious candidates are being considered for top positions, but only 5 are women. Vox put together this shortlist of 47 individuals being considered for cabinet positions, based on the reporting of Vox, Politico and NBC. Of that 47, only eight are women, and only two men are people of color. A list of 13 economic advisers Trump issued in August this year are all white men.

If Trump’s cabinet is less than 10 percent women, as it is currently projected to be, that will be the lowest representation of women since the 1970s. Looking back at the last six administrations, Obama’s cabinet was 35 percent female, while George W. Bush’s was only 16 percent women. Roughly 20 percent of Bill Clinton’s cabinet members were women. George Bush senior, Reagan and Carter had less than a fifth women. Hillary Clinton had promised to make 50 percent of her cabinet female.

These are the women NBC has said are on Trump’s short list for cabinet positions: Pam Bondi, Sarah Palin, Victoria Lipnic, Jan Brewer, Mary Fallin, Cynthia Lummis, Carol Comer, Leslie Rutledge. But where are seasoned names such as Paula Dobriansky, Meghan O’Sullivan, and Margaret Scobey?  Someone needs to give the Trump team a binder full of women, fast.

Given that Trump has already surrounded himself with older white men, he must make a conscious effort to find talented, qualified female voices for the good of his team. Why? There is a corpus of empirical research demonstrating that adding women to decision-making groups improves outcomes.

For example, researchers at Carnegie Mellon and MIT found that group problem-solving abilities significantly improved for mixed-sex groups compared with all-male groups.  Duke University researchers similarly found that women reacted to decision-making under stress by making safer, surer decisions, while men reacted by making riskier, go-for-the-big-win choices.

Cambridge researchers found a troubling decision-making syndrome related to testosterone, where success breeds overconfidence and irrational risk-taking, while failure creates exaggerated and again, irrational, risk-averseness. These researchers even suggest that fluctuations in male hormones could be partly responsible for the bubble-and-crash cycle so often seen in financial markets.

Researchers have also found that men in power feel more immune than women to scandal, and this feeling of being “bulletproof” also influences decisionmaking and behavior for the worse.

We’d argue that adding women to decision-making groups works not because women are genetically different than men (though they may be hormonally different); rather, it’s that women are socialized very differently, and often have quite different life experiences than men. These fresh perspectives, priorities, and concerns can serve as a reality check on the development of bro culture groupthink and the risky shift that follows.

Furthermore, women are often conditioned by society to develop specific skills offsetting male propensities, for example how to help the men in their lives reconsider risky choices without loss of face, and how to defuse unproductive conflicts between men that may otherwise fracture their family or group.  These skills are a general-purpose antidote to the decision-making proclivities of all-male groups, yielding both a better bottom line for companies as well as a better outcome for peace negotiations.

Researchers have also shown that decision-making groups are more satisfied with their choices when women have participated in making them, possibly because the decision seems more grounded in reality—having been vetted by the “other half” of humankind.

Now, some may say gender doesn’t matter. Others might point to examples of women leaders who have taken aggressive positions militarily, such as Margaret Thatcher or Indira Gandhi. Hillary Clinton voted in support of the Iraq war, for example.

But that argument misses the point of what we do know. We’re not suggesting there’s an inherent pacifism of women—or that electing a woman leader guarantees a dovish road to world peace. What research shows is that a critical mass of women at the decision making table—roughly 30 percent—changes the dynamic enough to lead to better, safer and more effective decisions.

Several years ago, using the largest extant database on the status of women in the world, a team of researchers led by one of the co-authors of this article found that there is a strong and highly significant link between state security and women’s security. This is why Trump’s treatment of women matters: the best predictor of a state’s peacefulness is not wealth, democracy or ethno-religious identity. It’s how well women are treated.  And whether women make it into the inner circle of a presidential administration is a clear signal of that treatment.

We still live in a male-dominated world. Women make up fewer than 10 percent of participants in peace processes. Women make up 23 percent of parliaments, on average worldwide. They make up fewer than 10 percent of the world’s police and military, according to U.N. estimates.

But beyond Canada and places like Scandinavia, signs of change have been encouraging, The Colombian peace process, which may com to fruition soon, has been the most gender-inclusive peace process to date.  Across Africa, women are rising into positions of leadership never seen before. While that 23 percent in parliaments might seem a dismal statistic, consider that that figure has doubled over the last 25 years. This is positive change that may lead to a more peaceful world.

The U.S. should continue this trend, not reverse it.

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