"Institutionalization of WPS principles enhances our operational effectiveness..."

—Gen. Glen D. VanHerck





Women, Peace and Security

U.S. Northern Command's (USNORTHCOM) Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Program is part of an international effort to promote the meaningful contributions of women in the defense and security sectors at home and around the world. USNORTHCOM seeks to institutionalize WPS across USNORTHCOM missions and functions to improve operational effectiveness, promote opportunities for the meaningful participation of women in decision-making across the command, and ensure safety, security and human rights for all.




Our Program

USNORTHCOM’s WPS approach is anchored in two decades of practice, in U.S. national law, U.S. strategy, and DoD and USNORTHCOM commander’s implementation guidance. WPS is founded upon abundant evidence showing that women’s safety and security is directly linked to a country’s stability, and that persistent barriers to women’s advancement in defense undermines organizational effectiveness and national security. WPS provides unique opportunities, both throughout USNORTHCOM and with our partners, to reinforce women’s empowerment, meaningful participation in decision-making, protection from violence, and access to resources. It is both a values-based approach, and also a practical one. When USNORTHCOM and our partners advance the principles of WPS, we not only strengthen our security and defense institutions and interoperability, evidence shows it also leads to more stable and resilient societies.  

Our Strategic Framework

Implementation of the WPS program is a USNORTHCOM priority. WPS at USNORTHCOM is guided by the following WPS mission, vision and end states which are implemented internally within the command and externally with partner nation militaries.  

Mission – USNORTHCOM integrates WPS principles into its strategies, plans and operations to better defend the homeland, strengthen partnerships, and provide flexible response to civil authorities. 

Vision – Institutionalization of WPS principles enhances the operational effectiveness of USNORTHCOM and our partner militaries. 

End States  
  • Exemplify a diverse, resilient, flexible organization 
  • Ensure the safety, security, and human rights of women/girls, especially during conflict and crisis 

History of WPS

In 2000, the United Nations (UN) Security Council adopted UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, the first resolution to address the disproportionate and unique effects of armed conflict on women and girls.  

In 2011, the United States published the first U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security, in accordance with Executive Order 13595.  

In 2017, the president signed into law the Women, Peace and Security Act (Public Law 115-68), making this the first legislation of its kind in the world to acknowledge the multifaceted roles of women throughout the conflict spectrum and call on the U.S. government to promote the meaningful participation and protection of women globally.  

In June 2019, the U.S. government released the U.S. Strategy on Women, Peace and Security, making the U.S. the first country in the world with both a comprehensive law and whole-of-government strategy on WPS. The strategy compelled the Department of Defense (DoD), Department of State, and Department of Homeland Security to develop WPS implementation plans.  

The requisite DoD Women, peace, and Security Strategic Framework and Implementation Plan was signed June 2020. 

A graphic illustrating the history of WPS implementation.

WPS Today 

Although Women, Peace, and Security is two decades old, as a government and a military, our understanding of the scope and value to our organizations and operational effectiveness of gender integration into everything we do, continues to expand and evolve. 

Data, analysis and new tools for understanding the value of addressing (and the detrimental impact of ignoring) gender dynamics are being developed and tested across our defense and security efforts. For example, practical lessons on the value of applying gender analysis and perspective in operations were gained in stabilization operations, such as in the form of female or mixed-gender engagement teams in Afghanistan and Iraq, and in peacekeeping operations such as in Haiti. UN data shows that increasing female representation within a peacekeeping formation to 30 percent or higher had a civilizing effect on peacekeeping forces and helped mitigate instances of sexual and gender-based violence perpetrated by peacekeeping troops.

Today, in the era of emerging, diverse, and often concurrent security threats – such as cyberattacks, violent extremism, terrorism, climate change, natural disasters, global pandemics, and strategic competition – it is necessary to harness the strengths and perspectives of our entire population to successfully address these challenges and mitigate their effects. 

No military commander would ever choose to make a decision with only 50 percent of the information. WPS is about the force multiplying effect of women and the ability to employ the full scope of our human capital to address the complex challenges of today, and those of tomorrow 

WPS Resources

WPS News

June 7, 2021

Mexican Army officer is the first to graduate from U.S. Air Command and ...

A Mexican Army (SEDENA) officer who was the first to attend the U.S. Air Force Air Command and Staff College (ACSC) graduated with the Class of '21 on May 27, 2021.

April 21, 2021

Official Says Women's Contributions Are Vital to DOD, Allies and Partners

Representatives from ally and partner nations in southeast Europe spoke at a conference about the important role women play in their armed forces.

March 8, 2021

Women Peace and Security Program Builds International Capabilities

No nation can afford to ignore half its population. That's the premise of the United Nations Security Council resolution 1325 on the Women Peace and Security program. It is good to remember this on International Women's Day.

Dec. 14, 2020

DOD Leaders Brief Women, Peace, Security Program to Congressional Caucus

DOD officials briefed the Congressional Women, Peace and Security Caucus on the department's efforts to ensure the initiative is on track and making a difference in all that military personnel do.



Disclaimer: Partner news external links contained herein are made available for the purpose of peer review and discussion. The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of NORAD and USNORTHCOM, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.

WPS Photos

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WPS Video

Video by Courtesy

Women, Peace and Security in Response to COVID-19

  • U.S. Northern Command
  • Sept. 22, 2020 | 16:48

The COVID-19 crisis and response has profoundly amplified the importance of a gender perspective and gender diversity in military operations - namely the distinctly gendered vulnerabilities of the population and the significant leadership and front line roles females have played in the response effort. This educational video highlights the relevance of gender and gender perspectives in DoD operations, with a unique focus on USNORTHCOM and the COVID response. This video can be used by institutions across DoD for training and awareness raising about the DoD Women, Peace and Security (WPS) initiative, and specifically how the application of WPS perspectives, practices and principles across all DoD organizations, functions and missions improves institutional and operational effectiveness.

Have Questions?
For questions or inquiries about our Women, Peace and Security Program, send us an email using the contact form below.
WPS Coordinator