Chemical, Biological, Nuclear and Radiological Security Policy Working Group

One of the most pressing challenges of our times is the proliferation and the use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The threats posed by the proliferation of WMD and their means of delivery, advanced conventional weapons, and sensitive dual-use technologies impact both United States’ national and international security. To maintain peace and stability, it has become increasingly vital to identify, discuss and understand biological, chemical, nuclear and radiological threats and promote efforts to prevent WMD proliferation. In this context, the Women of Color Advancing Peace, Security and Conflict Transformation (WCAPS) has established the Working Group on WMD, Arms Control and Nonproliferation – a platform to discuss a range of WMD and nonproliferation issues among scholars, students, policy experts and professionals from any interested disciplines.

WMD are an indiscriminate class of weapons. However, in a disaster that follows their use, women bear the brunt of the effects. Studies have shown that women are biologically more vulnerable, and often the ones most affected due to psychological impact, displacement, social stigma and discrimination. As primary caregivers at home and in communities, as in any disaster, women carry the burden of caring for their families despite the circumstances they may find themselves. In this respect, having both a gender and cultural lens on US policies is important.  

The aim of the Working Group on WMD, Arms Control and Nonproliferation is to inform, spread awareness, generate curiosity and encourage debate on WMD security policy among women of color. This will also hopefully provide a gender as well as a cultural lens to these issues that have not adequately included these diverse voices and viewpoints. WCAPS will therefore bolster and amplify the insights and perspectives offered by women of color in this space.

The Working Group is aimed at four mutually reinforcing efforts:

1.       Knowledge Creation and Sharing;

2.       Enhancing Collaboration;

3.       Promoting the perspectives of women of color on WMD, arms control and nonproliferation Issues; and

4.       Promoting blogs and articles by women of color on WMD issues.

The Working Group intends to achieve these objectives by:

1.       Conducting webinars and encouraging participation of students, young professionals and policy experts;

2.       Organizing workshops and seminars to generate rich debates;

3.       Producing policy papers and reports and also conducting interviews and podcasts; and

4.       Providing mentorship opportunities for mentors and mentees within the working group.

The Working Group will meet once a month in person or through video conferencing. However, participants can agree to meet at other times within that one month period as well.

While the working group will highlight diverse perspectives from women of color on United States’ national security and foreign policy issues, we welcome participation from anyone who is supportive and aligned with the mission of our work. The working group is led by WCAPS Young Ambassadors Sylvia Mishra and Wardah Amir and inspired by the work of Dr. Bonnie Jenkins, who has been at the forefront of nonproliferation through her leadership on these issues for many years.

We hope that you will find discussions at the WCAPS Working Group on WMD Arms Control and Nonproliferation useful. Please send an email to wcaps@wcapsnet.org to sign up and get involved or to post your queries and suggestions.

Sylvia Mishra and Wardah Amir

See the article by Sarah Bidgood and Sylvia Mishra, “Gender and WMD: Deliberate Actions To Upend the Status Quo,” highlighting the WCAPS Working Group on WMD Arms Control and Nonproliferation here.


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The Arms Control Association’s Annual Meeting on April 15, 2019 included a discussion on “Breaking Barriers to Gender Inclusivity in the Nuclear Policy Field” and provided another opportunity for Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins, WCAPS Executive Director, to highlight the importance of diverse viewpoints in nuclear weapons and security policy.

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Sylvia Mishra, Co-Chair of the WCAPS CBRN Security Policy Working Group, joined other panelists at the WCAPS/Brookings Institution “Redefining National Security” on April 5th, 2019, and discussed Southeast Asia and nuclear nonproliferation and other regional security issues.

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On April 5th, 2019, Ambassador Jenkins spoke at the”Consensual Straitjacket”: Four Decades of Women in Nuclear Security” Panel and reception.

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On April 3rd, 2019 Ambassador Jenkins spoke at the “New Vision for Gender and National Security” panel.

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Article “Diversity Makes Better Policy” by Bonnie Jenkins, part of the Ploughshares Fund’s April 3, 2019 “New Visions” publication.


Visit to Howard University to discuss nuclear nonproliferation

On March 25, 2019, WCAPS along with Union of Concerned Scientists attended a class at Howard University to discuss nuclear nonproliferation issues with the students.

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On March 25th and 26th, 2019, WCAPS collaborated with the Union of Concerned Scientists in meeting with congressional staff members and other entities, such as the NAACP and National Urban League, to discuss the need for diversity on nuclear weapons policy issues.

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On March 13, 3019. WCAPS and ReThink Media hosted a media training for next generation attendees at the Carnegie Conference on Nuclear Policy.

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On March 8th, 209, WCAPS members attended the SXSW Conference in Austin, Texas in a program sponsored by Women’s Action for New Directions (WAND) on “How To Avoid a Nuclear Apocalypse.”

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On February 19, 2019, WCAPS hosted a webinar on “Experiences of Women of Color Advancing Chemical Disarmament” led by the WCAPS CBRN Working Group Co-Chair, Wardah Amir.

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Promoting a Diverse Perspective in Nuclear Security & Nonproliferation

On June 18th, 2018, the Hudson Institute and Women of Color Advancing Peace, Security and Conflict Transformation (WCAPS) hosted a discussion on “Promoting a Diverse Perspective in Nuclear Nonproliferation.” Representatives from the government, think tanks and foundations shared their views on the value of having a diverse perspective on issues of nuclear policy and nonproliferation and challenges they see and have encountered in bringing more people of color into the nuclear field. We also discussed the pathways in which people of color have entered the nuclear field and what are the lessons that can be learned from their experiences.

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