Scholars, peacebuilders, and governments increasingly recognize that analyzing violent conflicts through the perspective of gender is critical to peaceful solutions. In addressing gender from Africa to Northern Ireland, the U.S. Institute of Peace focuses on four principal themes: women preventing extremist violence; stopping sexual violence in conflicts; the role of gender in violent conflict; and encouraging non-violent notions of masculinity in transitional societies. The Institute advances these goals through symposia, support for grassroots groups, and facilitated dialogue. Its publications and training materials inform policymakers and help strengthen the influence of women leaders in conflict settings. Learn more in USIP’s State of the Field fact sheet.

How Girls Lead to Advance Youth, Peace, Equality

Tue, 10/11/2016 - 13:30
Tue, 10/11/2016 - 14:30
Webcast Only Event: Young Leaders Mark the International Day of the Girl Child

Tunisian and American activists to end violence against women will join 20 youth leaders from the Middle East and North Africa in a webcast discussion from the U.S. Institute of Peace on Oct. 11 focusing on the role girls play in building peace. The event will take place on the International Day of the Girl Child and is part of USIP’s 60 days of activities connecting issues of youth, peace and gender equality. 

The predominant narrative about youth asserts that young men are perpetrators of violence and young women are victims. In reality, both girls and boys, women and men are powerful agents of change and can work together to foster inclusive societies that manage conflict nonviolently. 

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ISIS and Sex Slavery

Wed, 10/05/2016 - 14:00
Wed, 10/05/2016 - 16:30
How Can the International Community Move from Condemnation to Action?

Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is committing horrific crimes, including sex slavery, against the Yazidis in Syria and Iraq to destroy a religious community of 400,000 people, according to United Nations investigators. Women who escaped have recounted their torture and rape to the public, Congress and U.N. officials. ISIS uses the popular Whatsapp instant messaging to advertise enslaved girls for sale. Secretary of State Kerry says these ISIS crimes, with others, amount to genocide. Yet U.N. investigators say the “path to accountability” through international justice systems is “blocked.” So what can the international community do to halt this impunity? The McCain Institute for International Leadership and U.S. Institute of Peace on October 5th hosted an urgent discussion on how to move from condemnation to action.

Read the event coverage, ISIS Makes Sex Slavery Key Tactic of Terrorism.


A prominent voice against ISIS’ sex slavery has been Sierra Leone’s Zainab Hawa Bangura, a former war refugee who is now the United Nations’ chief campaigner against sexual violence in conflict. As a special representative of the U.N. secretary general, Ms. Bangura has met survivors of this ISIS campaign and heard their stories. 

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Displaced Women: From Violations to Voice

Wed, 09/14/2016 - 09:30
Wed, 09/14/2016 - 11:30
Afghanistan, India and Pakistan Cases Show How to Strengthen Women and End Impunity

People forced from their homes amid conflict—the majority of them women—face threats of deprivation, discrimination and a militarized society. During a forum hosted by the U.S. Institute of Peace and  the Women’s Regional Network, speakers discussed possible model solutions in Afghanistan, India and Pakistan for displaced women and girls.


The study, conducted by the Women’s Regional Network, suggested the use of regional tribunals and “community conversations” as possible mechanisms for exploring women’s experiences, fears and contributions, and for strengthening their often unrecognized contributions to justice, peace and social reintegration.

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The Power of Youth Working for Peace and Equality

Tue, 09/13/2016 - 09:30
Tue, 09/13/2016 - 11:00

The new U.N. Security Council Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security calls for organizations around the globe to involve young women and men more in peacebuilding. Join the U.S. Institute of Peace, Search for Common Ground and other partners on Sept. 13 for a Conflict Prevention and Resolution Forum including USAID Agency Youth Coordinator Michael McCabe. Speakers, including youth leaders, will discuss how young women and men are leading such work and what policymakers can do to ensure that the largest generation of youth the world has ever known is not left on the sidelines.


The U.N. resolution, adopted in December, identifies young people as critical partners for peace. It aims to counter a frequent narrative that defines young men as perpetrators of violence and young women as victims. In this discussion, policymakers, civil society organizations, and youth leaders will explore solutions that support youth leadership in peace and security efforts.

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Youth, Peace and Security: New Global Perspectives

Tue, 06/14/2016 - 14:00
Tue, 06/14/2016 - 16:00

The largest generation of young people the world has ever known is too often associated with violent conflict. With the December 2015 passage of Security Council Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security, the United Nations recognized the critical role of youth in promoting and maintaining international peace. Join the U.S. Institute of Peace and the Inter-agency Working Group on Youth and Peacebuilding on June 14 for a discussion of the resolution with the U.N. Secretary-General’s first Envoy for Youth H.E. Ahmad Alhendawi of Jordan, as well as young leaders from countries affected by violent extremism and armed conflict, and other senior experts.

Read the event coverage, U.N. Youth-and-Peace Resolution: The Hard Work Begins.

Today’s generation of youth, at 1.8 billion, is the largest the world has ever known. Many of these youth are living in countries plagued by violent conflict and extremism, such as Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria. The goal of SCR 2250 is to recognize youth as partners for peace rather than solely viewing young people as perpetrators of violence—a shift in mindset that responds to the call to action of 11,000 young peacebuilders in the Amman Youth Declaration.

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Ukraine: How to Build Social Peace Amid Displacement?

Thu, 11/19/2015 - 10:00
Thu, 11/19/2015 - 11:30
The War Has Uprooted 1.4 Million—a Strain That Could be Turned to Strength

The Russian-Ukrainian war has uprooted more than 1.4 million Ukrainians who struggle for survival, and for futures, in cities and towns nationwide. While Ukraine’s civil society has responded vigorously to help, the prolongation of this massive displacement is deepening strains on the nation’s social cohesion and economy. How might Ukraine help its displaced citizens and their host communities become agents for national reconciliation and cohesion? On November 19, USIP gathered prominent Ukrainian and U.S. specialists to discuss strategy for such an effort.

Read the event coverage, Ukraine's 'Invisible Crisis': 1.5 Million Who Fled War With Russia.

Ukraine so far has absorbed those uprooted from the war-shattered Donbas region, mainly in cities and towns of Donetsk, Lugansk and Kharkiv provinces, and around the capital, Kyiv. Many of those host communities are among those already most vulnerable to Ukraine’s economic recession. Amid high unemployment and privation, those communities and the displaced population are showing remarkable resilience, and social upheavals have been avoided.

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Global Security: What Does Gender Have To Do With It?

Tue, 10/27/2015 - 14:00
Tue, 10/27/2015 - 17:30
Celebrating 15 Years of UNSCR 1325

The imperative for women to participate fully in decisions about peace and security won unprecedented recognition 15 years ago with the U.N. Security Council’s adoption of Resolution 1325 calling for members to craft national plans to accomplish that objective. Now, the new U.N. Strategic Development Goals declare women’s equality as a precondition to resolving many of the world’s national and regional crises. On Oct. 27, the U.S. Institute of Peace and the five Nordic Embassies hosted a discussion with Nordic representatives that have helped pave the way on the connections between gender and security.

Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden are ranked as the top five countries in the 2014 World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Index ratings. The discussion at USIP explored the Nordic countries’ approach to gender equality and to global security more broadly. This event celebrated the 15th anniversary of the landmark UNSC Resolution 1325 and the underlying principle that gender equality is at the core of peace and security.

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Islam, Culture and Sexism: What Needs to Change?

Tue, 10/13/2015 - 13:00
Tue, 10/13/2015 - 14:30
Muslim Women Campaign for Gender Equality

ISIS extremists in Iraq and Syria declare that Islamic scripture justifies their taking of refugee women as sex slaves. Men in some Muslim societies cite their religion in defending “honor killings” of women. In the West, many commentators proclaim Islam inherently sexist, and some governments ban the veils traditionally worn by many Muslim women. Amid the turmoil, a growing cohort of female Islamic scholars says Muslim women are marginalized not by the Quran but by patriarchal cultural practices and interpretations of their faith. On October 13, 2015, USIP will screen the recent PBS documentary “Gender Equality in Islam,” and host a discussion on how women can understand and advance the gender-equitable principles of the faith.

Read the event coverage, Islam, Culture and Sexism: Making Change with Religious Learning.

“Gender Equality in Islam” presents the work of Dr. Azizah al-Hibri, a longtime University of Richmond law professor and Islamic scholar who in 1993 founded Karamah, an organization that educates Muslim women about Islamic principles of justice and gender equity. Karamah’s executive director, Aisha Rahman, who is featured in the film, will join other experts to discuss the importance of education and other tools that women need to interpret and promote Islam’s defense of women’s rights.

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Colombia’s Peace Process and Transitional Justice

Wed, 09/30/2015 - 08:30
Wed, 09/30/2015 - 17:00
Basta Ya! Report Illuminates Issues at Crux of Colombia’s Peace Talks Breakthrough

Colombia’s government and the FARC movement achieved their September 23 breakthrough in peace negotiations by setting down basic principles on the rights of victims to truth, justice, reparations and guarantees of non-repetition. USIP’s  Colombia Peace Forum, on September 30,  analyzed the role of historical memory in these transitional justice issues.

Read the event coverage, Colombia Considers War and Memory

As policymakers and analysts consider how the new breakthrough might be consolidated, Colombian researchers  presented a report, central to these issues, to a U.S. audience for the first time. The report—Basta Ya! Colombia: Memories of War and Dignity—was produced by Colombia’s National Center for Historical Memory. Its authors  joined other scholars and practitioners to examine lessons that might contribute to the creation of the national truth commission and other architectures as part of the peace process.

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Empowering Women in Countries with Mixed Legal Systems

Fri, 05/01/2015 - 08:45
Fri, 05/01/2015 - 17:15
Justice Sector Training, Research and Coordination (JusTRAC) Symposium

The U.S. Institute of Peace and the University of South Carolina Rule of Law Collaborative hosted a public event examining the obstacles and strategies for the empowerment of women in countries with "mixed" legal systems on May 1, 2015.

At the United Nations 4th World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995, then-First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton made her famous declaration that “Women’s rights are human rights.” Yet two decades later, women still face formidable legal obstacles, especially in countries with “mixed” systems of common, civil, customary, religious and/or tribal law. The U.S. Institute of Peace and the University Of South Carolina Rule Of Law Collaborative hosted a day-long symposium examining the ramifications and potential approaches.

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Articles & Analysis

USIP Staff

Seven weeks past an election that stirred talk of U.S. isolationism, national security aides from the incoming, outgoing and previous administrations held private discussions January 9 that found a broad point of consensus: The United States must lead more, not less, in the world. The meetings, among more than 80 past, present and future officials and independent foreign policy analysts, opened a bi-partisan conference on national security issues convened by the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) and five foreign policy think tanks. Strikingly, after a sharply divisive election campaign, “the...

Molly McCluskey

When she was merely a week old, Jaha Mapenzi Dukureh underwent female genital mutilation in her native Gambia. But the 26-year-old mother of three, now living in the United States, knows the procedure is not something that happens only in some far-off country. She is an outspoken advocate for ending the custom. At a daylong conference at the U.S. Institute of Peace, Dukureh and other experts and government officials detailed the difficulties—and possibilities—of ending a practice that has been used against more than 200 million women and girls in 30 countries, often with severe, lifelong...

Joshua Levkowitz

While the people of Afghanistan are more disillusioned than ever with their government amid the country’s crises, public sympathy for the Taliban and their allies is eroding, according to the biggest annual survey of Afghans’ opinions. For the second straight year support is growing, if still narrow, for women’s rights to education and jobs outside the home.

Videos & Webcasts

Former first lady Laura Bush said the international community must continue to support the reconstruction of Afghanistan and progress for the country’s women through aid, investment and an ongoing...

The president of one of the four civil society organizations in the Nobel Prize-winning Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet said her country will need to make changes in its education system to...

Dr. Kathleen Kuehnast, director of gender programs at the U.S. Institute of Peace, testifies before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

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Marie A. Principe
Women’s meaningful involvement in civil resistance movements has shown to be a game changer. Examining movements in Argentina, Chile, Egypt, Liberia, the Palestinian territories, Poland, Syria, and the United States, this report advocates for the full engagement of women and their networks in nonviolent movements for a simple and compelling reason—because greater female inclusion leads to more sustainable peace. 
Belquis Ahmadi and Sadaf Lakhani
In Afghanistan, the actions and narratives of violent extremist groups threaten to roll back many of the gains and hard-won rights of women over the last fifteen years. Women have long been cast in a binary light—as either disempowered victims or deviant anomalies—but in fact are involved in a wide range of activities, from peacebuilding to recruiting, sympathizing, perpetrating, and preventing violent extremism. Drawing on more than one hundred interviews in the field in Afghanistan, this report delves into the roles women play in the context of violent extremism. A deeper understanding of these roles and the reasons behind them, the report asserts, is critical to effective policy and programming.