Ploughshares Fund

Ploughshares Fund Announces New Women's Initiative

We must build a nuclear policy field that is an equitable space, open to new ways of thinking.

Ploughshares Fund announces the public launch of its new Women’s Initiative as a vital part of its collective efforts to realize a world free of nuclear weapons and where all people are guaranteed the right to a safe and secure future.

“It’s simple,” said Joe Cirincione, Ploughshares Fund President, “we believe that the nuclear policy field must correct its longstanding gender inequities. When people say ‘the nuclear priesthood’ forms our policy, they’re not kidding. The exclusion of ideas and people that diverge from conventional thinking is an obstacle to achieving a more just, inclusive and secure world.” 

Women have led, and are leading, the fight to create a safer, saner and more egalitarian future in almost every area of civic life. Nuclear security is no different. Ploughshares Fund aims to increase the role and voices of women working to reduce nuclear threats and to shine a light on the present and historic injustices of the field. This new initiative is an integral part of the foundation’s goal to place people, not weapons, at the center of security policy.

"Over the past year, our Women’s Initiative helped convene and build a cross-sectoral network of women from both inside and outside the nuclear sector – who are all committed to creating more just, inclusive peace-oriented policies in national security and foreign policy,” said Terry Greenblatt, Senior Advisor. "Given the opportunity to bring the full scope of their intelligence and experience to bear, women will help change the culture, assumptions and incentives that inhibit the development of policies capable of providing safe and sustainable security.”

“Nuclear war will affect everyone,” said Elizabeth Warner, Development Director. “So, we must include everyone in the creation of policies to eliminate them. Including women’s voices, as well as other diverse perspectives in the discussion, will create better policy.” Under her leadership, the organization has consulted with leading institutional funders, including The Rockefeller Brothers Fund, The Compton Foundation, One Secure Future and The Jubitz Family Foundation, who are all dedicated to amplifying the voices of women and women-led organizations in the field. “As we say in our values statement on the initiative,” she added, “it is essential that we ensure that good ideas, previously blocked from even entering the room, are now put squarely on the table, and are heard.”

“A key initial step we can take as a foundation is to achieve gender parity in our grantmaking,” said Michelle Dover, Program Director. "In the past year, Ploughshares Fund made a total of 39 grants to women and women-led organizations, totaling $1.7M. That makes up 48 percent of our total grants over the past year, up from 35 percent the year before. We are getting closer, but we are not there yet."

The foundation will announce further updates and concrete steps it is taking to actualize these values in the months ahead.

Excerpts from the Ploughshares Fund formal statement of purpose that guides the initiative are included below.

Women’s Initiative Statement of Purpose

We must build a nuclear policy field that is an equitable space, open to new ways of thinking. The exclusion of ideas, people and organizations that diverge from the conventional or traditional is an obstacle to achieving a more just, inclusive and secure world. We all should strive to inject approaches that will place people, not the weapons themselves, at the center of policy.

Including women’s voices as well as other marginalized and diverse perspectives in the creation of nuclear policy is necessary to achieve the vision of a nuclear-free world. It will help counter prevailing views on the necessity of threats and force for resolving conflict and broaden the horizon of what is possible. In plain words, it is essential that we work to make sure that good ideas that have been blocked from even entering the room are now put squarely on the table.

We should explore new security paradigms that include more diverse, feminist and inclusive perspectives. Given an opportunity to bring the full scope of their experiences to a security sector that has often devalued them, women can help move us all closer to a world liberated from the threat of nuclear catastrophe.

As a funder, advocate and multiplier of the work of grantees and as a foundation in a position to influence many in the security and peace sector, Ploughshares Fund commits to the following:

  • Meeting the highest standards of transparency and accountability in our grantmaking practices.
  • Ensuring that gender issues and perspectives are injected at the beginning of any decision making process, not at the end, as has been done in the past, if at all.
  • Promoting women leaders externally and encouraging the inclusion of diverse and emergent voices within the nuclear policy field.
  • Changing the culture and incentives that inhibit the development of policies capable of giving us real and sustainable security. 

The Women's Initiative is a movement to build an equitable, open nuclear policy field.

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