Women’s Contributions to Peace and Security Processes

Insights From a CFR Symposium

February 24, 2017


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Women and Women's Rights

Conflict Prevention

Terrorism and Counterterrorism


Research shows that including women in conflict prevention and resolution, as well as in efforts to reduce radicalization and violent extremism, generally leads to more secure peace. U.S. leaders—from diplomats to military commanders—have seen the efficacy of including women in peace and security processes and do not want to see those lessons discarded or overlooked.

At a December 2016 symposium, entitled “Women’s Participation in Conflict Prevention and Resolution,” CFR’s Women and Foreign Policy program and Center for Preventive Action hosted three panel discussions in Washington, DC, with government officials, civil society experts, and military and private sector leaders, who addressed how women improve security outcomes in conflict-prone areas. 

The report, which you can download here, summarizes the discussion’s highlights. The report reflects the views of workshop participants alone; CFR takes no position on policy issues.

Framing Questions for the Workshop

Conflict-Related Sexual Violence

Why do armed factions and extremist groups use violence against civilians, and sexual violence in particular, as strategic tools? Why is sexual violence prevalent in some conflicts but not in others? What role is played by military commanders, who can encourage, tolerate, or prohibit the use of rape as a weapon of war? How does empowering local women and civil society organizations advance efforts to combat sexual violence?

Fragile States and Violent Extremism

What role can women play in countering violent extremism and radicalization? How can the U.S. military and the global coalition to counter the self-proclaimed Islamic State better address sexual violence committed by the extremist group? How can women aid a country’s successful transition from being a conflict-ridden society to a developing society or better?

Women’s Participation in Peace and Security Processes

How does including women help boost security in conflict-prone areas and ensure more durable peace agreements? What does research find about the durability of peace agreements reached with women at the table? What obstacles prevent women from playing a more active role in these efforts, and how can governments, militaries, and the civil society best address them? What policies promote women’s participation in peace and security processes around the world? How can countries that most vocally preach the merits of inclusion lead by example?


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