Jamille Bigio is a senior fellow in the Women and Foreign Policy program at the Council on Foreign Relations. In the Obama administration, Bigio served as director for human rights and gender on the White House National Security Council. She also advised the White House Council on Women and Girls on its international priorities and first lady Michelle Obama on adolescent girls’ education and the Let Girls Learn initiative. From 2009 to 2013, Bigio served as senior advisor to U.S. ambassador-at-large for global women's issues, Melanne Verveer, within the office of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. In addition, she was detailed to the office of the undersecretary of defense for policy and to the U.S. Mission to the African Union.
Bigio led the interagency launch of the U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security, an effort for which she was recognized with the U.S. Department of State Superior Honor Award and the U.S. Department of Defense Secretary of Defense Honor Award.
Previously, at the United Nations, she worked to strengthen disaster management in Africa and the Middle East. She has worked at the grassroots level for public health nongovernmental organizations, and her research on development, human rights, and displacement was supported by the World Bank and the Brookings Institution.
Bigio has presented to congressional committees and lectures widely on peace and security, including at Harvard University, the UN Foundation, and the American Society of International Law. She serves on the board of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace, and Security. Bigio graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Maryland and received her Master’s degree from the Harvard Kennedy School. She currently writes on gender and security, women’s leadership, and economic development.
Women's Contributions to Security
Peace and security processes routinely overlook a critical strategy that could reduce conflict and advance stability: the inclusion of women. In fragile states, women are often marginalized, despite their potential contributions to the security and prosperity of their societies. Studies find that the robust participation of women and civil society groups in a peace negotiation makes the resulting agreement less likely to fail. Multiple analyses suggest that higher levels of gender equality are associated with a lower propensity for conflict, both between and within states. In many countries, women are well-positioned to detect early signs of radicalization because their rights and physical integrity are the first targets of fundamentalists; at the same time, they are well-placed to challenge extremist narratives in homes, schools, and communities. Through roundtable meetings, reports, and blog posts, I discuss how women's participation in conflict prevention and resolution, and their protection from conflict-related sexual violence, advance U.S. foreign policy interests and highlight strategies to prevent sexual violence and increase women's participation in peace and security processes.
Amy Pope, U.S. deputy homeland security advisor and deputy assistant to the president at the White House National Security Council, joined CFR for a discussion on how the networks, talents, and perspectives of diverse populations help the United States to ensure the safety and security of its homeland against 21st century threats. Pope reflected on how women and civil society help to strengthen community resilience and combat radicalization, and what policies, strategies, and tactics the U.S. government can employ to best partner with them and address the risks that they face.
From mass migration, to violent extremism, to climate change, the next U.S. administration will face daunting threats to global stability and U.S. national security interests. The nature of these challenges, coupled with the decentralization of power across the globe, will demand inclusive solutions that draw upon the knowledge, skills, and networks of diverse populations. Drawing upon National Defense University’s recent PRISM publication on women, peace, and inclusive security, Michèle Flournoy joined CFR for a discussion on why the next U.S. administration must include women and civil society in its national security strategy and policy to advance stability around the world.
Despite evidence that shows that women make unique contributions to peace and security processes, they remain severely underrepresented in military, policy, and peacekeeping forces around the world. Jamille Bigio highlights a new bill led by Senators Barbara Boxer and Jeanne Shaheen that would “require the U.S. State Department to encourage other countries to increase the number of women recruited and promoted in their security forces.” She also argues for better quality training among security forces and conversation of the U.S. National Action Plan on women, peace, and security into legislation.