By Susan Yoshihara, Ph.D. and Lisa Correnti | February 16, 2017
WASHINGTON, DC, February 17 (C-Fam) An Obama-era executive order on helping women in conflict settings mutated into a vast set of mandates including abortion, homosexual rights, and environmentalism in U.S. defense and diplomatic policy and programs. It remains resistant to President Donald Trump’s recent executive orders.
In 2011, Obama authorized by executive order a National Action Plan on Women Peace and Security to “institutionalize a gender-responsive approach to its diplomatic, development, and defense-related work.” Coordinated by the National Security Council, it comprises the Departments of Defense, Justice, State, and USAID, Centers for Disease Control, and the Millennium Challenge Corporation.
The plan directs U.S. military and Foreign Service officers to integrate “persons of diverse sexual orientation and gender identity” into leadership roles, including “those led by the UN and other international and regional organizations.” It mandates all U.S. military personnel, including those preparing for deployment, in war colleges, taking command, and attending the service academies, receive training on gay, bisexual, and transsexualism.
Ostensibly, the plan sought to comply with a UN Security Council resolution by the same name, but the UN version consistently focuses on women and rejects abortion, LGBT, and environmental issues.
In December, Trump’s transition team requested a list of gender programs and associated funding levels, running through the State Department. Obama’s Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues, Cathy Russell, refused to comply. Recently, she remarked that she believed the request aimed to discover which family planning and LGBT activity programs received funding. She claimed that these programs would be difficult to isolate, being so infused through all foreign policy. Lack of transparency precludes Trump’s administration from identifying specifically what “gender equality” programming entails and who implements it. Russell said $450 million has been spent in the past three years.
In a recent OpEd, Russell warned that by rescinding the plan, Trump would only hurt women, particularly those who are raped. She did not mention that the plan redefines gender and refocuses to include LGBT issues.
The plan’s 2016 version redefines gender based violence as “an umbrella term for any harmful threat or act directed at an individual or group based on actual or perceived biological sex, gender identity and/or expression, sexual orientation, and/or lack of adherence to varying socially constructed norms around masculinity and femininity.” It states that “prevention and response to GBV should be prioritized in emergencies alongside other life-saving assistance” such as shelter, food, and water.
The plan created Russell’s former ambassadorial post and a supporting staff, the Office of Global Women’s Issues, which reports directly to the Secretary of State. Russell succeeded feminist Melanie Verveer, who reported to her close friend since college, Hillary Clinton.
The office does not come under Trump’s executive order barring U.S. funds to groups performing or promoting abortion abroad, called the Mexico City Policy, which affects an estimated $9B annually in aid. Groups barred under that policy could receive funds for gender programming. The plan refers extensively to “reproductive health,” which the Obama administration defined as including abortion.
Led by New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Democrats in the Senate aim to make the action plan law, rendering Trump’s rescinding of the plan moot. A similar bill passed the House last year though without reference to the controversial plan.