Women Lead to Reduce Nuclear Dangers
Last week I had an opportunity attend a meeting with a fabulous group of women from the Women Donors Network and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi. Our House Democratic Leader said many inspiring things, but I was especially struck by this statement; “There’s a long list of ills with one cure: more women in leadership.”
This is plainly true when we think about things like healthcare and contraception. It also applies when thinking about peacemaking and building civil society, where WAND advocates for the implementation of the National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security.
Here is an area that may not have popped to mind right away; the “ill” is the dangerous spread of nuclear weapons materials and the threat of nuclear terrorism. When it comes to adequate funding and attention to cure this “ill,” credit must go to Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (D-CA-47).
Last year, Sanchez, who is the ranking Democrat on the Subcommittee on Strategic Forces in the House Armed Services Committee, proposed two amendments that increased funding for crucial nuclear security programs to secure and reduce dangerous nuclear materials around the world. Both amendments were adopted unanimously in the House. With tenacity, hard work and skill, Sanchez worked to cultivate the support of leading Republicans to ensure the success of these measures, which managed to increase funding in a fiscally challenging and politically fraught environment. By the way did - you know studies have shown that one of the ways women legislate differently than men is that they often act more collaboratively, seeking out long-term results? That seems like a good idea with large multifaceted problems like nuclear dangers.
This week, at the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, modest progress was made as 50 world leaders gathered and agreed to take further steps to secure vulnerable nuclear weapons material. Still the stakes are high and more progress is needed. As President Obama said, “There are still too many bad actors in search of these dangerous materials, and these dangerous materials are still vulnerable in too many places. It would not take much, just a handful or so of these materials, to kill hundreds of thousands of innocent people. And that's not an exaggeration. That's the reality that we face.”
In the United States Congress, it is imperative that programs to secure vulnerable nuclear materials are adequately funded. The fiscal and political challenges of last year are sure to be obstacles this year, too. The good news is that Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez is ready to again overcome these obstacles and marshal support for needed nuclear security efforts.
-Kathy Robinson, Public Policy Director
To learn more about WAND’s work to reduce nuclear dangers, leading towards a safer world without nuclear weapons, please click here.