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On March 9, 2023, the Women's Foreign Policy Group co-organized an exclusive event at House of Sweden with United for Ukraine (Switzerland), the Embassy of Sweden in Washington, D.C., and the Delegation of the European Union to the United States. The event began with remarks by Ingrid Ask, Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy of Sweden in Washington, D.C., in which she discussed the importance of recognizing the contribution of women on the frontlines of war. Soon after, Michael Curtis, Deputy Ambassador of the European Union to the United States, expanded on this sentiment—establishing the EU's position of unity in admiration for the Ukrainian people. He acknowledged the disproportionate impact of wartime aggression on women, and the importance of highlighting women's experiences when discussing issues relating to peace and security.

H.E. Oksana Markarova, Ambassador of Ukraine to the United States, stressed the need for Ukraine to continue to be integrated into the European Union community, which Ukraine has consistently voted in favor to join. Ambassador Markarova stated that Ukraine will continue to stand up against Russian tyranny even when it is incredibly difficult. Turning toward the event speakers, she also raised the Sevgil Musayeva, Editor-in-Chief of Ukrainska Pravda for her work domestically to encourage Ukrainian women to continue their fight, and Nancy Pelosi, Former 52nd Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives for inspiring an American audience to empathize with the struggle of Ukrainian women.

The Women's Foreign Policy Group's Executive Director Alexa Chopivsky thanked Ambassador Markarova sincerely for her incredible wartime efforts and inspiring diplomatic efforts. Chopivsky then introduced Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi. Speaker Emerita Pelosi was recently awarded the Order of Princess Olga, a Ukrainian civil honor for her contributions to the Ukrainian state.

Speaker Emerita Pelosi began by shining a light on Ambassador Markarova's work in advocating for American monetary and military support of Ukraine on both sides of the political aisle. Reflecting on her trip to Kyiv in April 2022, Speaker Emerita Pelosi said that she had never seen such commitment and bravery in the face of such egregious crimes against humanity. She seconded Vice President Harris' words at the Munich Security Conference in February 2023 and President Biden's 2023 State of the Union address, that the United States will continue to stand by Ukraine throughout this illegal war. Speaker Emerita Pelosi also questioned how to approach economic reconstruction in light of the widespread suffering and human rights abuses, which disproportionately affect women and children. Sanctions alone are not enough, noted Speaker Emerita Pelosi, and the international community must hold Russian leadership accountable for their actions. Despite the increased transparency and visibility of the 21st century, Russia still clearly violates Ukrainian sovereignty without regard for the international perception of such actions. Invoking President John F. Kennedy's famous 1961 Inaugural Address, Speaker Emerita Pelosi brought to mind the adage "My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man." According to Speaker Emerita Pelosi, there can be no condescending, only collaboration between the United States and foreign partners. She concluded by saying that the United States will not stop until victory and justice are won.

Returning to the stage, Ms. Chopivsky brought attention to a piece of Ukrainian folk wisdom: a man may be the head of a family, but the woman is the neck—she is the one who steers the family. Economic rebuilding and peacebuilding are crucial in this period, and focusing on women's experiences is crucial for sustainable growth.

Then, attendees screened "Oh, Sister!", a short film by the Nobel Women's Initiative which aims to highlight the ongoing challenges facing Ukrainian women in light of continued Russian aggression. Many audience members were moved to tears by the strikingly honest stories of women's experiences throughout this war.

Immediately after the film screening, guests listened to virtual remarks from Oleksandra Matviichuk, 2022 Nobel Peace Prize laureate from Ukraine. In her remarks, Matviichuk expressed her mourning for the total destruction that Ukraine has experienced at the hands of the Russian invasion. Rebuilding schools, hospitals, churches, bridges, and other critical infrastructure, she explained, must be at the center of rebuilding efforts in the coming weeks and months. Displaced people must be able to return to their homes, businesses must be supported by the government so that they may open their doors once again. Strengthening core democratic institutions so that women can continue to play a central role in recovery is vital to the future of Ukraine. Matviichuk ended her remarks with a fervent call that freedom has no gender.

Following the film screening and virtual remarks, Alexa Chopivsky returned to introduce the moderator for the panel, Sabrina Siddiqui, White House Reporter at the Wall Street Journal and one of two journalists to join President Biden on his recent trip to Ukraine. In her first question, Siddiqui asked the three speakers about the resilience of Ukrainian women as seen through the film "Oh, Sister!" Olga Hamama, Co-Founder of United for Ukraine (Switzerland) launched the conversation by establishing that Ukrainian women and people more broadly do not want to be victims, they want to be active participants in reestablishing peace and rebuilding economic vitality. In the early days of the war, Hamama focused on facilitating housing to internally displaced people (IDPs), connecting people around the country with critical information on escape routes and access to life-saving resources, and providing free legal aid and mental health support. The war in Ukraine is the biggest refugee crisis in Europe since World War II, and approximately 90% of the 6.5 million Ukrainians who have fled the country since the illegal Russian invasion are women and children. When Hamama spoke to IDPs and refugees, many women expressed a desire to return to their communities and contribute to the war efforts.

Sevgil Musayeva, Editor-in-Chief of Ukrainska Pravda and 2019 Harvard University Nieman Fellow, seconded this assessment but wanted to bring attention to the hurdle of addressing war-related sexual assault. Many women have been affected by this pervasive issue, and Musayeva spoke about the need for mental health resources to support those who have been impacted. As a Ukrainian citizen, she expressed concern about the overall lack of thought for the future in the national consciousness, as current human rights abuses require a great deal of mental capacity. Rather than spending time planning for the future of the country, citizens are forced to focus on the current daily human rights abuses. The solution, in Musayeva's view, is to volunteer with communities most in need and to take time to brainstorm solutions to pervasive issues such as sexual assault right now, not to wait until the war is over. Additionally, infrastructure for schools and hospitals has been severely damaged, leaving communities without crucial access to these resources.

For her part, Jody Williams, 1997 Nobel laureate (USA), Co-founder of the Nobel Women's Initiative and American peace and human rights activist, is sick of hearing the question "what role do women play in peacebuilding?" She believes that that role is right at the forefront. When addressing such issues that Musayeva brought up, she encouraged the international community to heed the advice of Ukrainian women who are best positioned to know the needs of their communities.

Hamama reinforced this idea, saying that now is the time to begin economic revitalization, with women at the helm. Ukrainian women have steadfastly advocated for entrepreneurial independence and the closing of discriminatory loopholes that have previously been used to marginalize vulnerable groups. Similarly, the EU-funded Climate-KIC is currently working to educate Ukrainian refugees and IDPs about the importance of sustainable economic recovery to rejuvenate the economy with businesses that will positively impact their communities.

"Recovering from War: Women on the Frontlines of Ukraine’s Economic Reconstruction" with each of the panelists reiterating that the war is not yet over, and Ukrainian women will continue to fight for peace and gender equality throughout the economic rebuilding process.

You can view pictures from the event here.

Madison Dwyer is a student at Georgetown University and a Programs Intern at the WFPG.

Right before the discussion began, the brave panelists living in Ukraine received an airstrike alert whilst logging on to the Zoom Webinar. As they maintained a positive outlook, it put into perspective the reality of day-to-day living during wartime. WFPG Executive Director Alexa Chopivsky introduced the moderator, Daniel Bilak, and she emphasized the importance of the Women, Peace, and Security Agenda in Ukraine.

Moderator Daniel Bilak, a current volunteer serviceman in the Territorial Defense Forces of Ukraine and partner at Kinstellar, explained that as a father of four daughters, he felt that it was his duty to speak on the strength of Ukrainian women and the spirit of volunteerism they embody. With 5,000 to 7,000 women on the frontlines – many being noted as the best snipers – Bilak addressed how “women have taken on a disproportionate role in the war,” as homemakers, combatants, and budding entrepreneurs. He and the panelists agreed that Ukrainian women work towards long-term peace involving economic reconstruction and familial or community support, making them an essential component of current Ukrainian society.

As Bilak asked each of the women to share their stories, the impact of the war on their personal and professional lives became apparent. CEO of United for Ukraine Dana Pavlychko recounted her escape from Ukraine and resettlement in Germany after Russia invaded. Even though she is currently living abroad, she found a way to support and defend her country through United for Ukraine, an international NGO that aims to increase access to emergency relief resources and consolidate action initiatives in an effort to rebuild Ukraine. She emphasized the importance of creating a positive culture with her employees to give them a chance to break away from the stress of the war. Director of TAPS Ukraine, Yulia Dmytrova, has volunteered in her local community since her childhood. She understands the impact war has on mental health, especially on the families of veterans and fallen soldiers. Her goal of helping “heal the soul [and] live on with memories of their loved ones who passed” has touched the lives of sons, daughters, wives, husbands, and parents alike. Valeriia Shumska spends her days in the minefields of Ukraine with The HALO Trust. She became an internally displaced person after Russia invaded her small village in eastern Ukraine, but continues to search for evidence of mines and map them for the safety of the locals. Each woman shows up every day to fight for their country in a variety of ways.

The panelists then explained their personal efforts to involve more women in national security and economic development. Pavlychko spoke on behalf of United for Ukraine’s two main programs for women: information support (legal, housing, mentorship) for displaced persons, and economic assistance for micro-businesses in Ukraine led by women. United for Ukraine has assisted about sixty companies in 2023, helping to build their resilience during the war. Dmytrova employs seventy-six psychologists within TAPS, of which ninety percent are women. She believes that women play a key role in mediation, peacebuilding, and community, which is why they are so integral for TAPS and Ukraine. Shumska stated that previously, it was impossible for women to work as deminers, but now the women who work with HALO consistently show up, get on their hands and knees, and do the work. Many of these women have husbands who are fighting on the frontlines of the war and want to do their part in defending and securing their country.

The panel ended with an audience Q&A, with topics surrounding civil society, priorities post-war, and gender equality. Women are essential in all of these areas and will pave the way toward reconstruction and peace. Whether that be in psychological support for trauma victims, reforming education, or providing childcare, nothing can be done without the coordination and hard work of all Ukrainians. Before logging off the Zoom, with feelings of optimism and awe, and forward-thinking ideas, Dmytrova signed off with an essential reminder: “Without women, there is no victory.”

You can watch the recording from the event here.

Tara Boyd is a student at George Washington University and a Programs Intern at the WFPG.

On February 16, 2023, the Women's Foreign Policy Group hosted the virtual panel Munich Security Conference Preview: The International Order, Ukraine, and Other Top Priorities. To begin this discussion on some of the greatest security challenges of the past year and future, WFPG Executive Director Alexa Chopivsky introduced Saleha Mohsin, Senior Washington Correspondent at Bloomberg, to guide the conversation. Mohsin first acknowledged the complex set of priorities that the Munich Security Conference would likely address, from the unprovoked war in Ukraine, to climate change, and to the re-establishment of global norm-setting. She then introduced the panel's speakers: Olha Stefanishyna, Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration; Andrea L. Thompson, Vice President for International Programs at Northrop Grumman; and Ambassador Paula J. Dobriansky, Senior Fellow at Harvard University, JFK Belfer Center for Science & International Affairs, and former Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs.

Mohsin found it prudent to launch the conversation by asking speakers why they believe the Munich Security Conference (MSC) is important internationally. Prime Minister Stefanishyna explained that the MSC demonstrates to an international audience why protecting democratic processes is so crucial. With the full-scale war occurring in Ukraine, Prime Minister Stefanishyna sees the MSC as a unique opportunity to uphold the standards of democracy and work to rebuild security architecture—particularly throughout Europe and with NATO, but also beyond. She explained that the war in Ukraine requires great efforts on the parts of NATO and the EU to maintain political unity vis-à-vis Ukraine. The mobilization of everyday European citizens and politicians alike is necessary to strengthen European support of Ukraine throughout this war.

Furthermore, on Ukraine and NATO, Ambassador Paula J. Dobriansky solidified the idea that helping Ukraine win its war is also vital to NATO interests. Ukraine is the largest country in Europe and lies at the crossroads of Europe and Asia—a particularly strategic position that could prove pivotal for NATO interests. Currently, though, the destabilization of Europe and Asia at the hands of this war has been extreme. Ambassador Dobriansky explained that the global community is experiencing an unprecedented weaponization of energy, as seen through fuel crises affecting aircraft industries and the everyday consumer. Similarly, food security has been a major point of contention globally. For example, Ambassador Dobriansky mentioned that Egypt relies on Ukraine for a large portion of its grain and that China also receives a large portion of its grain from Ukraine as well. The blockage of ports during wartime creates many challenges that cause ripple effects on supply chains around the world.

To protect against these security threats, Andrea Thompson added, states must commit to financially supporting their defense industries. In a pre-Summit press conference by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Thompson noted his indication that spending 2% of GDP on defense is a floor, not a ceiling. Some states, like Poland and Estonia, are going beyond this number with 4% and 3% respectively. In alliances like NATO, Thompson said, conflicts such as the war in Ukraine forced these groups to recognize the antiquatedness of their military infrastructure and inspired epiphanies that it is time to modernize their resources to sustain military agility to respond to such conflicts effectively. As a result of these realizations, Thompson continued, partnerships such as NATO are evolving to become even stronger, but states shouldn't stop there. Instead, states should harness this momentum and take the opportunity to address cybersecurity concerns. In the United States, there are 600,000 vacant positions in cybersecurity that the White House wants to be filled, but is struggling to recruit talent for. Cyber diplomacy is the next generation of diplomatic efforts in the mind of Thompson, and to meet this need, states must share emerging technologies.

Ambassador Dobriansky vehemently seconded this idea, invoking the vicious cyber attacks in Estonia and Ukraine. When questioned about the kind of signal that these cyberattacks send to the international community, Ambassador Dobriansky responded that it is a clear demonstration of the lack of respect for rule of law and sovereignty. The threat against democratic values and processes is existential, but there is an upside, according to the Ambassador. She declared that when we look back to Ukraine pre-war, there was complacency in international alliances such as NATO, and now in this new age, these alliances are galvanizing to reinstate respect and order. The rejuvenation of democracy, Ambassador Dobriansky said, contributed to the two new members of NATO; the threat of Russia's complete disregard for international norms inspired Finland and Sweden to be a firm part of this pro-democratic institutional movement.

As the ripple effects of the war in Ukraine extend internationally, Prime Minister Stefanishyna brought light to the ongoing domestic changes in her country. She explained that women's access to politics has increased as society has shifted due to the war. Women are stepping up and taking charge, advocating for the most vulnerable groups—women, children, and the elderly. When asked what kind of advocacy is most effective for protection of these groups, she responded that sustainable policymaking, both domestically and internationally, is vital to peace and security. In Ukraine, to uphold democracy post-war, political momentum is focused on establishing permanent routes for the allocation of financial resources to vulnerable groups to develop businesses and close loopholes that had previously been used to discriminate. Internationally, democratic backsliding is a threat that must also be addressed by sustainable security agendas.

You can watch the recording from the event here.

Madison Dwyer is a student at Georgetown University and a Programs Intern at the WFPG.

A panel of women invested in advancing the resettlement process for refugees in the United States shared their expertise on the evening of January 26th, hosted by the Humanitarian Action Initiative and No Lost Generation GW at the Elliott School of International Affairs. With a focus on the grim realities of refugee resettlement, the panelists discussed the main challenges for refugees: how the federal government, judicial system, and non-profit organizations work together, and what people can do to help those seeking refuge. The panel was followed by a brief audience Q&A, where panelists answered questions about entry-level jobs in resettlement work, how to influence change on a local level, and possible national solutions to the refugee crisis.

Manizha Azizi, the Family Services Manager at Homes Not Borders, discussed the importance of non-profit work for refugees. Homes Not Borders is an organization enlisted by resettlement agencies and individuals to furnish homes for incoming refugee families into the United States. Azizi emphasized that this allows the families to focus on more pressing tasks such as enrolling their children in schools, applying for healthcare, and applying for citizenship or green cards. In addition to furnishing their homes, Homes Not Borders has an artisan program to help refugees with specific skills such as sewing, painting, or knitting to find work. By creating spaces for refugees to find temporary employment and comfortable homes, Homes Not Borders eases families into their new lifestyle. Still, the hardest challenge that Azizi faces is the lack of resources. The influx of Afghani refugees since 2021 is a clear demonstration of the government’s lack of resources, Azizi reflected. She worked with many families who experienced bouts of domestic violence caused by stress, culture shock and language barriers, and bullying and discrimination of their children in schools. As an Afghani herself, she struggled to stomach these challenges, but they propelled her to keep moving forward.

Nicole Medved is an Immigration Attorney currently working at the William and Mary Law School Immigration Clinic, where she trains lawyers in humanitarian immigration law to represent refugees in a system that often works against them. The legal system is slow-moving with a lack of employees and interpreters to process forms and approve visa applications and work authorizations. Additionally, the strict definition of “refugee” is a major roadblock for attorneys like Medved due to the lack of tangible evidence. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services requires that refugees demonstrate past persecution or fear of persecution due to their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. The process of proving past persecution can be difficult, especially if a family immigrated before the persecution began. The increasing number of climate refugees fails to fit into this definition, leaving them without any defense. Lastly, the trauma and PTSD of having to retell one’s stories of persecution and torture is what Medved points out as one of the biggest flaws in the system. She reflected that “law is important, but is not the final decision or destination for refugees or paroles,” as simply obtaining a visa will not ensure a refugee’s stability. This is where organizations such as Homes Not Borders are essential.

Olivia Issa, the Program Lead at the Refugee Resettlement Initiative at the National Association of System Heads, explained the role education has in helping refugee students and families. She pointed out that one place that has all the resources a refugee needs in their first year can be found at universities. Between food, transportation, housing, health services, and career services, universities can support refugee families who previously had no access to these services. This is why the Refugee Resettlement Initiative started the Every Campus of Refuge program, which encourages universities to grant refugee families housing units for 6 months at little or no cost. With Kentucky leading the way with the most Every Campus of Refuge programs, Issa hopes more universities will follow in their footsteps. Furthermore, Issa emphasized the importance of incorporating refugees into schools’ Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion programs and budget. This would encompass more affordable English language exams such as moving away from using TOEFL exams and towards Duolingo’s cheaper alternative. Additionally, being lenient with previous official transcripts is essential, as many refugee families do not bring these documents with them. If their schools were destroyed during conflict, it is impossible to obtain these records. Challenges such as these are crucial for universities to address in order to grant migrants the support they need to succeed.

Moderator Dr. Maryam Deloffre, the Director of the Humanitarian Action Initiative, asked the panel a final question: “How can the government, non-profit organizations, and ordinary people work together to help refugee resettlement?”Azizi explained that everyone has a different role to play and that thorough communication is essential on a weekly, if not daily, basis. This could manifest on a personal level by welcoming a new refugee in your neighborhood or school, or with the government granting more federal resources to hire more employees to process documents. Medved emphasized the need for volunteers and experts to aid attorneys throughout the legislative process. There is a dire need for more interpreters to not only explain legal situations to the refugees, but to also translate birth certificates, resumes, and other essential documents. She also explored the value of country conditions research in proving the possibility of persecution in their home countries with expert affidavits from professors or mental health experts. These will often make or break a case in immigration law. Lastly, with President Biden’s new Welcome Corps program, groups of up to five individuals can now privately sponsor the resettlement of refugees. Issa explained that universities can easily tackle this job.

It is up to every sector to positively influence the way the United States conducts its resettlement program. Federal and legal policies directly affect the success of non-profit organizations' efforts. Ordinary civilians should continue to be intentional with their votes for elected officials locally and nationally. Universities and educational institutions should commit more time and resources to help refugees gain access to education and resources and should stress the importance of cross-cultural education and acceptance. Organizations such as Homes Not Borders always need more volunteers and donors. With the right initiatives, refugee resettlement can be reshaped for the better.

Tara Boyd is a student at George Washington University and a Programs Intern at the WFPG.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023, was a somber day for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists as they released the news that humanity's Doomsday Clock is now "90 seconds from midnight." The Bulletin first published its Doomsday Clock in 1947 as a representation of how close society is to "technologically or environmentally-induced catastrophe." The Clock brings awareness to the dangers of unrestrained technological advancement, particularly nuclear, but recently incorporated climate and other existential threats such as pandemics. Tuesday's declaration comes at the hands of Russia's war in Ukraine—pushing society 10 seconds closer to midnight than 2022's designation of 100 seconds to midnight. Gathered together at Georgetown University for a discussion on the Threats and Challenges to Global Governance in the 21st Century, Rachel Bronson, President and CEO of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and Mary Robinson, Chair of The Elders, were joined by two additional members of the Elders, Juan Manuel Santos and Elbegdorj Tsakhia.

Bulletin President Bronson opened the discussion with a clear indication that the new designation of the Clock at 90 seconds—closer than it has ever been, she added—was primarily the result of a P5 nation (permanent member of the United Nations Security Council) invading the sovereign territory of another state. Viewing this as a collapse of the international order, she stressed the possibility that this conflict between Russia and Ukraine may put nuclear weapons back into possible use. Additionally, Bronson expressed concern over potentially unrestricted innovation in AI and bioscience, which can also put humanity at risk.

During his tenure between 2009 and 2017, President Elbegdorj of Mongolia met with Putin 30 times. Personally, he was surprised by the war and expressed the international damage that Putin has done by instigating conflict. President Elbegdorj also elaborated on his concerns for Russian citizens, specifically that freedom of speech and overall prosperity has rapidly deteriorated and that ethnic minorities in the country are disproportionately affected by war by being sent to the front lines of conflict. Additionally, if Putin succeeds, President Elbegdorj argued, autocrats around the world will be encouraged. Therefore, it is imperative that the international order reasserts Ukraine's right to exist and choose its fate.

Former President of Colombia Juan Manuel Santos, while discussing his recent meeting with the Ukrainian president, characterized President Zelensky as an incredibly charismatic, intelligent, and inspiring leader. The two leaders discussed President Santos' leadership of the peace process in Colombia, since President Santos believes that all armed conflicts have common denominators and can learn from each other. In his view, President Zelensky cannot yet discuss the possibility of peace negotiations publically, he must sustain his image of strength and enthusiasm vis-à-vis total victory. This can be complicated, though, because President Zelensky must communicate differently to each audience he faces: his people, his army, as well as the broader international stage. Maintaining wide support for Ukraine on a wider scale is crucial, not just from the United States and Europe, but from all over the world.

Mary Robinson, Chair of The Elders and former President of Ireland, reiterated this point and expressed concern about 35 nations abstaining from United Nations General Assembly Resolution ES-11/1 to condemn Russia's invasion of Ukraine. In particular, she is worried about the African nations which abstained from this vote, many of which are dependent on military hardware and support from Russia and China. Simultaneously, other states used the vote to signal their disdain for the apparent double standard occurring with the proposition of a Nuremberg-style tribunal to address war crimes committed in Ukraine. These states question why tribunals have not been called for regarding armed conflicts in the Middle East and Africa, while the conflict in mainland Europe is being addressed with unprecedented momentum. Both of these concerns make multilateralism more complicated. Meanwhile, countries who voted yes on Resolution ES-11/1 hope to simultaneously punish the violators of human rights and reestablish the authority of international law and what President Robinson calls “common sense.” The Rome Statute, in her view, is crucial for creating norms of reparations, justice, truth, and non-repetition of violent large-scale crimes.

Regardless, all wars end at a negotiation table, President Santos said, so President Zelensky must begin preparations. Citing Nelson Mandela, President Santos invoked the adage that the most powerful weapon is being able to sit down and talk. Every decision in the peace process comes with a price, he explained. Where a leader draws the line between peace and justice is a difficult decision: what justice should a leader sacrifice for peace, and vice versa? President Santos cited his favor for the tribunal and its norm-setting behavior, which can lead to potential lives saved in future conflicts. President Elbegdorj agreed that war in the 21st century should be obsolete and that the tribunal would make a powerful statement to leaders around the world that war and irredentism is not the right path to establishing a legacy.

While discussing the possible improvements to turn back the Doomsday Clock to a greater distance from midnight, President Robinson also emphasized the lessons that many European countries are learning in the wake of the gas reliance crisis. She hopes the renewed focus on energy security will lead to serious conversations about expediting the transition to renewable energy. President Santos hopes to see the facilitation of peace over the continuation of war, and the re-establishment of peace as a global norm. President Elbegdorj, similarly, hopes to see more governmental investment in grassroots democracy and freedom of speech for all, to ensure that citizens are safeguarded against tyranny. To him, democracy isn't about pleasing everyone, but about respecting everyone's right to think differently—which is crucial for stabilizing the international community and turning back the Clock.

Madison Dwyer is a student at Georgetown University and a Programs Intern at the WFPG.

On January 19, the Women's Foreign Policy Group partnered with Beacon Global Strategies and the National Security Institute at George Mason University's Antonin Scalia Law School to host a panel on the importance of public-private partnerships in cyber and tech-related fields. The event was held in the Rayburn House Building with a brief breakfast reception.

Founder and Executive Director of the National Security Institute Jamil Jaffer kicked the conversation off with a question for Jennifer Bachus, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the State Department Bureau of Cyberspace and Digital Policy: "How does the State Department conceptualize the current challenges in Ukraine?" Bachus responded by detailing that long-standing support for Ukraine had been established far before the instigation of conflict in February 2022. Bachus explained that those firm relationships and a sense of trust were crucial to understand what Ukraine needed from its allies and how to obtain these resources rapidly during the early war period. Beginning in 2014, the State Department engaged with Ukraine and created open lines of communication to ensure that both sides worked toward the same goals. In the wake of the February 2022 invasion, the State Department fortified its support for the Ukrainian government, recommending migration to the cloud to secure information and respond effectively in a crisis. Bachus recognized the role of the private partnership during this time too; by donating resources and supporting the Ukrainian government, the private sector kept the government running during times of immense stress.

Similarly, Jeanette Manfra, Global Director for Security and Compliance at Google Cloud, weighed in on the role of the private sector during wartime. On the philanthropic side, Google has also raised $10 million for people affected by the war in Ukraine. From a technological security perspective, Google combated misinformation propagated by Russian-owned state media platforms such as RT by blocking monetization, abilities on Youtube videos and other apps. In addition, Google kept Google Maps updated with the most recent escape routes for civilians attempting evacuation, which proved paramount for many refugees, Manfra said. Furthermore, she asserted the importance of getting time-sensitive information into the hands of civilians publically and as quickly as possible because many Ukrainians now rely exclusively on digital information for resources such as maps. To achieve this goal, Manfra expressed that information sharing is critical. Operational collaboration allows the intelligence community to stay updated on civilians’ needs, which is the keystone for a successful approach.

Dave Luber, Deputy Director of Cybersecurity at the National Security Agency, chimed in from a government perspective. In his experience, cyber security and intelligence are not about “what you know,” but rather, “how you know it.” The capacity for collaboration on lower levels between governments and private-sector industries is a huge determining factor in whether these efforts are successful. Harnessing the best actors in both sectors leads to the most successful outcome. To develop a firm idea of "where we're at" in cybersecurity, we need communication of insights between analysts in open forums such as the Joint Cyber Defense Collaborative (JCDC). Groups like the JCDC help make it more difficult for actors to achieve success in cyberwarfare, Luber argued, because if there is one thing to count on in cyber, it is change. Whether it is new types of malware or other threats, persistent engagement and collaboration are the keys to combating cyberterrorism.

Eric Goldstein, Executive Assistant Director for Cybersecurity at CISA reiterated the importance of organizations like the JCDC and its capacity to shift cultural norms toward information sharing between different organizations. This shift will work to drive a national movement with more broad organizations that are willing to participate. The potential benefits of investing in information sharing and cybersecurity more broadly outweigh the costs, according to Goldstein, because they can mitigate future potential issues. Specifically, Ukraine's dedication to modernizing its technological systems—its transfer to a global network rather than keeping all of its data inside the country— proved decisive in its ability to withstand cyberattacks from Russia. In addition, Goldstein made a point to acknowledge that it is the responsibility of all in the intelligence community to ensure that these newly opened doors and the ability to facilitate communication are not lost once the war in Ukraine has ended. In summary, a coordinated, long-term effort by the intelligence community to institutionalize these new norms so that they are not lost to time.

To conclude, private-public partnerships with foreign allies are crucial in developing reliable relationships with functional communication. Ukraine is a perfect case study of why creating these relationships early on can foster trust between local and international actors while vis-à-vis reinforcing cybersecurity and protecting from cyberattacks. The ongoing resilience of the Ukrainian government and resistance to cyberterrorism proves the effectiveness of these public-private partnerships, and hopefully, more examples will emerge in the future.

You can view pictures from the event here.

Madison Dwyer is a student at Georgetown University and a Programs Intern at the WFPG.

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