Washington, D.C. – Tonight the House of Representatives passed a bipartisan bill (H.R. 2484) that requires the U.S. to develop a comprehensive strategy to increase and strengthen women’s participation in peace negotiations and conflict prevention.

On the House floor prior to the vote, Chairman Royce delivered the following remarks (as prepared for delivery):

“I rise in support of H.R. 2484, the Women, Peace, and Security Act.  And I want to recognize Representatives Noem and Schakowsky for their excellent, bipartisan work on this measure, and of course Ranking Member Engel for his important leadership.

Our consideration of this measure today is really a culmination of years of bipartisan work by Members of the House, and prior Administration officials, and the many advocates who want to see better, more sustainable solutions to ending wars, combating terrorism, and improving human rights around the world.

And what we are saying today is that women’s participation is essential to confronting these fundamental challenges.

Last year, the Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing where we heard powerful testimony about the importance of including women in peace negotiations and security institutions around the globe.  Women, of course, have the fundamental human right to have their voices heard in discussions affecting their lives, and that is a case in and of itself that we must continue to make.

But women’s participation is also critical to realizing better outcomes.  Simply put, when women are at the negotiating table, peace is more likely.  Compelling research shows that peace agreements are more likely to be reached – and to last – when women’s groups are genuinely involved.

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.  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.

Efforts to “keep the peace” through policing and peacemaking missions also benefit from women’s participation because it leads to better crime reporting and higher levels of trust within the communities they serve.

And women are essential to confronting one of the greatest national security threats of our time: the spread of violent extremism.  Women are truly on the front lines of this fight.  They often possess unique insights into their families and communities, and are capable of gathering information that men cannot.  Yet their input is frequently overlooked.

Activist Wazhma Frogh recalls when women from a small Afghan village tried desperately to warn a government official that young men in their community were being recruited by Islamist militants at local weddings.  The minister laughed them off and said, “The militants we’re fighting are much too sophisticated to recruit at a wedding!”  A month later, those same men attacked a bus, killing 32 civilians.

My Committee has heard similar stories from women around the world, who want to reclaim their communities from the spread of radical ideologies.  We must acknowledge women as partners in this fight.

And that is why the legislation before us today recognizes that it is in our national interest to promote women’s participation in resolving violence and conflict.

This concept has been building support for some time.  The Bush Administration was right to press hard for women’s participation in peace negotiations and political processes in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.

The Obama Administration expanded on these programs to require a government-wide approach to women’s inclusion in conflict resolution overseas.

The bipartisan legislation before us today builds on these efforts.  It will continue to require a government-wide strategy to promote women’s participation, along with specific goals and benchmarks and regular reporting to Congress in order to gauge progress.

It also requires that appropriate State, USAID, and Defense Department personnel receive training in how to facilitate women’s participation in conflict resolution, security initiatives, and efforts to protect civilians from violence and exploitation.

I urge all Members to support this measure’s passage.”