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.

Advancing Women in MENA: Should We Keep Trying?

Wed, 05/04/2016 - 14:00
Wed, 05/04/2016 - 16:00
Does the Region’s Violent Conflict Preclude Progress?

The longstanding United Nations call for countries to adopt National Action Plans to involve women in issues of national security repeatedly stumbles in much of the Middle East and North Africa. The U.S. Institute of Peace had a discussion on May 4 on how these roadblocks can be overcome, especially amid the current upheaval.

The longstanding United Nations call for countries to adopt National Action Plans to involve women in issues of national security repeatedly stumbles in much of the Middle East and North Africa. The U.S. Institute of Peace had a discussion on May 4 on how these roadblocks can be overcome, especially amid the current upheaval.

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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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'Mothers Schools' to Working With Police: Women Prevent Violent Extremism

Archana Kapoor, a filmmaker, activist and founder of a community radio station in India, tells the story of the mother from Mewat, a poor, rural area about 45 miles (70 km) south of the capital New Delhi. Many women there don’t have much freedom or authority, much less their own phones, bank accounts or other tools of independence. Kapoor helped establish a series of “Mothers Schools” to support and train women in expressing their concerns about the effect of radicalization in their communities and families.

Religion and Gender in Extremist Violence: A Discussion with Human Rights Defenders

Thu, 02/12/2015 - 13:30
Thu, 02/12/2015 - 15:00

Former President Jimmy Carter calls discrimination and violence against women and girls one of the most serious and pervasive -- yet ignored -- violations of human rights. Escalating violent religious extremism fuels this pattern. On Thursday, Feb. 12, the U.S. Institute of Peace and The Carter Center were pleased to host this event, which addressed ways in which human rights defenders in Libya and Iraq are working to build peace with particular attention to the role of religion and gender. 

carter center logoReligion often is used to justify violence and the unequal status of women. More than ever, these problems are interrelated, and efforts that address them in isolation fail to produce comprehensive, long-term strategies.

Manal Omar, Welcoming Remarks
Acting Vice President, Center for Middle East and Africa, USIP

Karin Ryan, Remarks
Senior Advisor for Human Rights and Project Director, Mobilizing Action for Women and Girls Initiative, The Carter Center

Panel Discussion: 

  • Dr. Alaa Murabit
    Founder, The Voice of Libyan Women
  • Mubin Shaikh
    Counterterrorism, CVE and De-radicalization Expert in Canada
  • Sanam Naraghi Anderlini
    Co-Founder & Executive Director, International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN)
  • Fatima Kadhim Al-Bahadly
    Director, Al-Firdaws Society, Iraq
  • Susan Hayward, Moderator
    Interim Director, Religion & Peacebuilding Center, USIP

Q&A with audience

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The Asia Foundation's 2014 Survey of the Afghan People

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 09:30
Tue, 11/18/2014 - 11:30

The United States Institute of Peace was pleased to host a presentation of the findings of The Asia Foundation’s 2014 Survey of the Afghan People.

With the conclusion of the first democratic transition of power in the country’s history and the continuing drawdown of foreign troops, what do the people of Afghanistan think are the most critical issues facing the country? This survey, based on face-to-face interviews with a nationally representative sample of nearly 9,300 Afghan citizens, reveals their views on security, national reconciliation, the economy, development and essential services, governance and political participation, corruption, justice, gender equality and access to information.

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Preventing and Mitigating Conflicts: Role of the International Courts

Fri, 04/11/2014 - 09:30
Fri, 04/11/2014 - 11:15

The U.S. Institute of Peace, the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security and The Hague Institute for Global Justice, hosted a dialogue with the Prosecutor from the International Criminal Court (ICC) and jurists from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on April 11th at USIP, to discuss the role of the international courts in preventing and mitigating conflicts.

International courts are intended to prevent conflict and settle international disputes, both by holding to account those alleged to have committed international crimes and by developing applicable international law. Their role is an essential but under-examined aspect of international conflict management. This event, convened by the U.S.

  • Mr. Peter Loge, Welcoming and Introductory Remarks
    U.S. Institute of Peace
  • Judge Joan Donoghue, Expert Panelist
    International Court of Justice
  • Judge Xue Hanqin, Expert Panelist
    International Court of Justice
  • Judge Julia Sebutinde, Expert Panelist
    International Court of Justice
  • Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, Expert Panelist
    International Criminal Court
  • Professor Jane Stromseth, Concluding Remarks
    Georgetown Law Center and U.S. Department of State
  • Dr. Abiodun Williams, Moderator
    The Hague Institute for Global Justice
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Articles & Analysis

Viola Gienger

In the violent conflict tearing across the Middle East and North Africa, fully half of the pieces needed to complete the security puzzle may be missing almost entirely: women. As extremist groups and military forces parry with the weapons of war and politics, the pivotal role that women could play in restoring peace and security has largely been cast aside, as old-school thinking perpetuates the idea that gender equality is a problem for another day, according to experts and a new study just published by USIP.

Amy Calfas

In Pakistan, a series of vibrant murals has gone viral, inciting discussion, online and in city streets, about gender-based violence and discrimination. Young women artists changed the landscape of the country’s largest cities as they worked with communities to turn local people’s stories into art that claims public spaces for messages of tolerance and peace.

Fred Strasser

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 presence of American troops. Speaking at the U.S. Institute of Peace on March 15, Bush said she remains hopeful for the country’s future, in part because of the spirit of Afghan women and the strides they have made in education, business and government.

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.

More from Dr. ...

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Paula M. Rayman, Seth Izen and Emily Parker
The United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1325 fifteen years ago. The resolution addresses the disproportionate impact war has on women and reaffirms their important role in conflict management, conflict resolution, and sustainable peace processes. This report pulls from interviews conducted with academics, activists, government officials, and nongovernmental leaders in Egypt, Iraq, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and Tunisia. It examines the benefits and challenges of the resolution in these countries as well as its potential in the Middle East and North Africa region.
USIP Staff
Scholars, peacebuilders and governments increasingly understand that gender is critical to analyzing violent conflicts and transforming them into sustainable peace. The public focus on gender issues in peacebuilding has been growing since 2000, when the U.N. Security Council adopted Resolution 1325. The measure urged countries to craft national action plans to protect women and girls during conflict and ensure women have a greater voice in decision-making on security issues.