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This article was authored by Jamille Bigio, senior fellow with the Women and Foreign Policy program, and Alexandra Bro, former research associate with the Women and Foreign Policy program.
Twenty years ago, the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1325, which declared something that should have been self-evident: Women around the world are directly affected by war and violence — so they should have a say in how conflicts are resolved.
This is no pipe dream. Study after study shows that women’s participation in efforts to make and preserve peace can have a decisive impact. Female negotiators have shaped peace processes from Colombia to Northern Ireland, resulting in agreements that are more durable and better implemented. Higher levels of women’s political participation are associated with a lower risk of civil war and of conflict relapse. The evidence is clear: Give women full and equal rights and opportunities, and countries will become more peaceful and prosperous.
Yet women are too often excluded from efforts to work toward peace. In a new Council on Foreign Relations report, we found that between 1992 and 2019, women constituted, on average, just 13 percent of negotiators. About seven out of every ten peace processes did not include any women as mediators or as signatories. (The latter often represent a combination of the negotiators, guarantors and witnesses to a peace deal — who remain predominantly men).