Deputy Minister Koçi, Chairwoman Felaj, distinguished guests, students, and faculty, I am delighted to be here today to open the first “Institute for Women in National and International Security Policy.”
I am especially proud that Dr. Edlira Titini was inspired to organize this institute as a result of her participation in the U.S. Department of State’s “Study of the U.S. Institutes on U.S. National Security Policy Program.” I am also glad that several of our other exchange program alumni will be serving as instructors for the course.
When we send individuals on exchange programs, we seek to support them so they can use their knowledge to strengthen Albania and U.S.-Albanian relations. This institute is the perfect example of our alumni doing just that, so thank you Dr. Titini and thank you to our alumni. I would also like to thank the Director of the Center For Regional and Local Development Studies Luiza Hoxhaj, all of the faculty members who will serve as instructors for this course, and the representatives of the national security academy and military institutions for their contributions to this important institute.
Women around the world have an essential role to play in security provision, peace processes, countering terrorism, and conflict prevention and resolution. In early June, the United States released the U.S. Strategy on Women, Peace, and Security — a government-wide framework articulating our commitment to promoting meaningful participation of women in security efforts. This strategy was mandated under the bipartisan Women, Peace, and Security Act of 2017, which our Congress passed to elevate women’s roles around the world in peace operations and political, civic, economic, and security systems. Just as the Institute for Women in National and International Security Policy is doing today – launching a conversation that will lead to action — in the United States, civil society organizations will play a vital role in assisting the Departments of State, Defense and Homeland Security as well as USAID in producing implementation plans for the strategy.
Women bring our best skills to the security sector – the ability to honestly assess what we call “ground truth” – or the reality; the ability to hear through the noise the music of consensus, a long-term vision of stability, and negotiating skills that take into consideration key security angles effecting our families such as root causes, health, education, poverty, cultures of violence, and religious intolerance.
The United States understands the strategic challenges faced globally by women and the barriers to representation in political leadership, the pervasive violence against women and girls, the persistent inequality. But these issues can and will be overcome with our collective commitment. We are excited to team with partners such as yourselves to explore the full potential of women in security; to elevate the subject of Women, Peace, and Security as a priority task. Women’s voices must be included. Women’s perspectives must be considered. Women’s empowerment must be full and equal at every step. We are the 50 percent of humanity that must be brought into the decision-making of the present as well as the policies shaping the future.
Over the coming days, I encourage you to listen, to ask questions, and to debate ideas as you engage with the range of crucial topics related to national and international security. You are Albania’s future leaders. Take advantage of this opportunity to prepare yourselves for this important role. The United States will stand with you as we work to elevate the roles of women in overcoming external and internal security threats and to promoting greater peace and prosperity.