from Women and Foreign Policy Program and Women Around the World

Women's Participation in Peace and Security Processes

United Nations peacekeeping troops from South Africa participate in a ceremony in Burundi's capital Bujumbura. The current mission has some 786 members. REUTERS/Jean Pierre Aime Harerimana

This week marks the seventeen-year anniversary of the adoption of the landmark UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. The international agreement acknowledges the disproportionate impact of armed conflict on women and girls and affirms the importance of women in conflict prevention, peace negotiations, peace-building, peacekeeping, humanitarian response and post-conflict reconstruction. To date, sixty-nine states have launched National Action Plans to implement the resolution. Learn more about women’s contributions to conflict prevention and resolution in these publications from the Women and Foreign Policy program.

October 26, 2017

United Nations peacekeeping troops from South Africa participate in a ceremony in Burundi's capital Bujumbura. The current mission has some 786 members. REUTERS/Jean Pierre Aime Harerimana
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Women and Women's Rights

Conflict Prevention

Wars and Conflict

Sexual Violence


Countering Sexual Violence In Conflict
In the newest report from the Women and Foreign Policy program, Rachel Vogelstein and Jamille Bigio analyze how sexual violence is used by armies and extremist groups around the world as a tactic of terror and a means of generating revenue through the trafficking of women and girls. The report highlights the global security threat posed by conflict-related sexual violence and outlines policy steps that the U.S. government should take to prevent and respond to such violence.

Women in Peace and Security Processes: A CFR Symposium
At a December 2016 symposium, government officials, civil society experts, and military leaders discussed how women’s participation in conflict prevention and resolution advances U.S. security interests, how efforts to counter violent extremism are strengthened by involving women, and how addressing conflict-related sexual violence helps secure peace. As Gen. John Allen argued, “No society has ever successfully transitioned from being a conflict-ridden society to a developing society unless women were a part of the mainstream.” 

Rohingya woman
A Rohingya refugee carries her baby through Balukhali refugee camp near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, October 26, 2017. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

Women and Girls at Risk in the Rohingya Crisis
The fastest-growing refugee disaster in the world is unfolding along the Myanmar-Bangladesh border in South Asia. In a guest blog post, Mayesha Alam, a Soros New American Fellow at Yale University, highlights how the intense violence in Rakhine State has made scores of women and girls the targets of opportunistic and orchestrated rapes by security forces. 

When Women Lead Soldiers Into Battle
In an article in The Atlantic, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon analyzes the effects of the 2015 lifting of the U.S. ban on women in ground combat. In recent years the American military has seen women ascend to positions in its highest ranks: Air Force General Lori Robinson became the country’s first female combatant commander, Admiral Michelle Howard became the first female four-star admiral, and West Point graduated its first female infantry officers.    

Women’s Contributions to Peace and Security
In a 2016 CFR Discussion Paper, Jamille Bigio and Rachel Vogelstein analyze how including women in peace talks, peacekeeping units, and international security forces strengthens missions and improves national security. Increasing women’s participation in conflict resolution and postconflict processes will help the United States respond effectively to security threats around the world and advance U.S. interests. 

Afghan women
Afghan women arrive to vote at a polling station in Adraskan district , Herat province April 5, 2014. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani

Women and Girls in Afghanistan’s Transition
In a 2014 CFR report, Catherine Powell highlights the significant—yet fragile—strides made for women and girls in education, the economy, health care, politics, and civil society since the 2001 U.S.-led intervention in Afghanistan. Powell suggests that, given the correlation between gender equality and stability, the United States should prioritize improving women's security and investing in women's rights. 

Women Are Critical to Counterterrorism
In an article in US News and World Report, Rachel Vogelstein and Jamille Bigio argue that women’s participation is a proven strategy to improve counterterrorism efforts. They suggest that evidence demonstrates that “women are well-positioned to detect early signs of radicalization because their rights and physical integrity are often the first targets of fundamentalists” and that the United States and ally nations should promote women's participation to improve operational effectiveness. 

Syria Raqqa
Female fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces ride in a pick up truck in Raqqa, Syria October 18, 2017. REUTERS

Reporting From the Wreckage of Raqqa
In a PBS Frontline special, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon reports from northern Syria, where the fight against Islamic State has left towns in ruin and critical infrastructure in disarray. At Ain Issa refugee camp outside Raqqa, Lemmon met with women and children affected by violence—among them, Hala, a thirteen-year-old girl who was forced out of school because of the extremist group and lived surrounded by fear until her family eventually managed to flee the city. 

Three Things to Know About the Women, Peace, and Security Act of 2017
Earlier this month, the United States government enacted the Women, Peace, and Security Act of 2017, which was signed into law by President Trump on October 6. The bipartisan act, recognizing the testimony offered at a congressional hearing on women’s participation in peace and security processes, will strengthen efforts to prevent, mitigate, and resolve conflict by increasing women’s participation in negotiation and mediation processes. 


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