Report: Persisting Gender Gaps in U.S. Military Impede Compliance With International, Humanitarian Law

A report from the Georgetown Institute for Women Peace and Security finds that persisting gender gaps in the U.S. military are making it difficult to comply with international conventions such as the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda and International Humanitarian Law (IHL).

DownloadTo comply with those conventions as well as the the Department of Defense’s own Strategic Framework and Implementation Plan (SFIP), the report makes three suggestions for the DoD: strive for the equal and meaningful inclusion of women; correct restrictive physical standards; and curb sexual assault.

To achieve meaningful participation, the report recommends “promoting women to leadership positions, ensuring they have influence, valuing their input, and providing access to adequate childcare during all operational hours and during deployment, as well as equality in parental leave policies for men and women.

To correct restrictive physical standards, the report recommends that military leadership “improve its communication of the difference between gender-neutral occupational standards and physical fitness assessments that are gender- and age-normed because they are an administrative tool to assess overall health and fitness.”

To prevent sexual assault, the report recommends “two intertwined steps: First, holding leaders at all levels—from company commander to four-star general—accountable for their actions and inactions. Second, we recommend greater civilian oversight over cultural norm setters such as Special Operations Forces.”

Implementing these changes, the report argues, not only helps the U.S. military fulfill its humanitarian obligations, but it will improve the military's own operational capacity. The full report, "Culture, Gender, and Women in the Military: Implications for International Humanitarian Law Compliance," can be found here.