The U.S. Civil Society Working Group on Women, Peace and Security (U.S. CSWG) is a non-partisan network of over 50 civil society organizations with expertise on the impacts of conflict on women and their participation in peacebuilding. Established in 2010, the working group is an engaged coalition that supports the effective implementation of the U.S. Women, Peace and Security Act (2017) and the advancement of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda (UNSCR 1325).

Groups gather for the CSW63 Townhall Meeting of Civil Society and United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres (Flickr/UN Women)
Groups gather for the CSW63 Townhall Meeting of Civil Society and United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres (Flickr/UN Women)

What is Women, Peace and Security?

Women, Peace and Security (WPS) is a policy framework that recognizes that women must be critical actors in all efforts to achieve sustainable international peace and security. WPS promotes a gendered perspective and women’s equal and meaningful participation in peace processes, peacebuilding and security. The WPS Agenda evolved from the U.N. Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 , which was unanimously adopted on October 31, 2000.

UNSCR 1325 addresses not only the disproportionate impacts of war on women but also the pivotal role women should and do play in conflict prevention, conflict management and sustainable peace efforts. UNSCR 1325’s framework consists of four pillars—participation, protection, prevention, and relief and recovery.

In a statement in 2005, the Security Council called upon U.N. Member States to continue implementing UNSCR 1325 through the development of National Action Plans (NAPs) to articulate their priorities and detail actions they will take to implement the objectives of UNSCR 1325. As of October 2020, 86 countries have created and adopted NAPs.

In December 2011, President Barack Obama signed an Executive Order instituting a U.S. National Action Plan (NAP) on Women, Peace and Security, making the WPS agenda an official national policy priority.

On October 6, 2017, the U.S. Women, Peace and Security Act of 2017 was signed into law by President Donald Trump. The Act mandates training for relevant government personnel on WPS issues, encourages consultation with stakeholders regarding women’s participation in peace processes, and requires that the President submit a National Strategy on WPS to Congress. The U.S. Strategy on Women, Peace and Security was released in June 2019.

The National Strategy outlines four primary lines of effort:

  • Seek and support the preparation and participation of women in decision-making processes.
  • Promote the protection of women’s and girls’ human rights.
  • Adjust U.S. international programs to improve equality and empowerment outcomes for women.
  • Encourage partner governments to adopt similar WPS focused plans.

Current Work

Each year the U.S. CSWG develops new strategic objectives to inform all efforts, planning priorities, activities and goals. Over the fiscal year 2020-21, the goal of the U.S. CSWG is to foster greater inclusion across sectors and engage diverse stakeholders to advance the WPS Agenda.

The 2020-21 Objectives are:

  • Objective 1: Address structural barriers that prohibit the meaningful implementation of the WPS Agenda.
  • Objective 2: Diversify and expand the network of support to the Women, Peace and Security Agenda.
  • Objective 3: Serve as the preeminent expert network on Women, Peace and Security issues for the U.S. Congress, the Administration, and civil society.

Stakeholder Engagement

Strengthening Engagement between the U.S. Government and U.S. Civil Society

As the “go-to” group of civil society experts on women, peace and security, the U.S. CSWG regularly engages with U.S. Government agencies, members of U.S. Congress and their staffers, as well as key committees to ensure that the WPS agenda is incorporated at all levels.

Following the release of the U.S. Strategy on WPS, the U.S. CSWG is continuing its work to advise key stakeholders on issues related to WPS. Critical to this effort is working with U.S. Government agency officials charged with implementing the Strategy. Members of the U.S. CSWG have provided consultation and recommendations on the development and execution of each agency’s implementation plans.

Each of the U.S. Strategy on WPS 2020 implementation plans can be found using the links below:

Public Awareness

Since its establishment in July 2010, the U.S. CSWG has facilitated over 50 public events and off-the record consultations to advance the WPS Agenda in the U.S. and globally. Through these engagements, the U.S. CSWG and its members work tirelessly to amplify voices from the field to ensure that the perspectives of frontline women peacebuilders are heard by the U.S. and global policymakers.

To view the U.S. CSWG’s public event celebrating the twentieth anniversary of UNSCR 1325, visit the event page. 

To streamline efforts, the U.S. CSWG has formed various committees designed to further expand its goals, activities, and initiatives. Some of the committees include the Government Outreach Committee, the Social Media Committee, and the Diversity & Outreach Committee.

Follow the U.S. CSWG hashtag #WomenAdvancePeace, to learn more and discover resources and tools members organizations share. Twitter: @US_CSWG

Publications and Reports

As a key resource for learning and the exchange of lessons learned between and among civil society and government agencies, the U.S. CSWG publishes policy briefs and reports to inform and shape the policy community’s discussions on the Women, Peace and Security Agenda.

Summary Publications

Regional Publications

Gender-Based Violence Publications

Cross-Thematic Publications

Policy Recommendation Publications

 

Member Organizations

The U.S. Institute of Peace acts as the non-partisan, independent secretariat of the working group. Because the U.S. CSWG’s members are primarily non-governmental and academic institutions, the non-partisan nature of USIP has been vital to the group’s success and allowed organizations across the political spectrum to join and participate in the working group.

Interested in Joining?

Organizations wanting to join must be classified as 501(c)(3). The types of organizations that join range in focus from academic research to practitioner-based work, but all include some component of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda in their work. Each organization has two representatives to be included on the listserv and remain in regular contact with the U.S. CSWG.

Please email Gender@USIP.org for more information on how to join the U.S. CSWG.

WPS Resources

Working group members are producing an increasing amount of resources to aid policy shapers and other civil society organizations in their efforts to advance the WPS Agenda. Below is a sample of resources that members have recently produced.

Latest Publications

Breaking the Stalemate: Biden Can Use the U.S.-Taliban Deal to Bring Peace

Breaking the Stalemate: Biden Can Use the U.S.-Taliban Deal to Bring Peace

Thursday, February 25, 2021

By: Scott Worden

On the eve of the one-year anniversary of the U.S.-Taliban agreement, Afghanistan remains unfortunately far away from peace. The historic agreement paved the way for a full U.S. withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and the start of intra-Afghan talks on a political settlement of the conflict. As the May 1 withdrawal deadline nears, the Biden administration is undertaking a rapid Afghanistan policy review to determine its overall strategy toward the slow-moving intra-Afghan negotiations in Doha, Qatar. A key reason for the lack of movement in talks is that both sides are anxiously waiting to see what Biden decides. 

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Peace Processes

Months After Protests, Nigeria Needs Police Accountability

Months After Protests, Nigeria Needs Police Accountability

Thursday, February 25, 2021

By: Emily Cole

In Nigeria and more than a dozen nations—the United States, Brazil and Japan are others—public protests erupted in the past year against police brutality. Across the globe, police violence traumatizes the marginalized, spares the powerful and remains unaddressed until the abuse is illuminated to broad public view. While brutality is typically rooted among a minority of officers, it persists because weak systems of police accountability offer impunity, even to repeat offenders. In Nigeria, as in other countries, the solution will require building strong accountability mechanisms—both within police agencies and externally, in the communities they serve.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Justice, Security & Rule of Law; Democracy & Governance

Libya: Amid Hope for Peace, Regional Rifts Still Pose Hurdles

Libya: Amid Hope for Peace, Regional Rifts Still Pose Hurdles

Friday, February 26, 2021

By: Simona Ross; Stefan Wolff

Libyans and the United Nations advanced their current effort to end almost a decade of instability and war this month when a U.N.-backed forum nominated an interim government to prepare nationwide elections by the end of 2021. The new transitional government brings hope that this process—the third major U.N. peace effort in Libya—might lead to stability. Still, achieving lasting peace will require that the process address the main underlying driver of conflict: the divisions among Libya’s three main regions, notably over how to organize the government. It also will need the United States and other countries to support the transitional government and hold Libya’s contesting sides accountable.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Peace Processes; Democracy & Governance

Can Markets Help Foster Civil Society in North Korea?

Can Markets Help Foster Civil Society in North Korea?

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

By: Anthony Navone

After North Korea’s planned economy faltered in the 1990’s, resulting in a devastating famine known as the “Arduous March,” citizens turned to an informal market system for survival. Desperate for some semblance of stability, the North Korean state initially tolerated these rudimentary transactions as a financial necessity. These markets have grown in scale and complexity over the last two decades—and in the process, have facilitated the growth of unofficial economic networks that exhibit signs of a nascent semi-autonomous public sphere that is unprecedented in North Korean society.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance

North Korea in Africa: Historical Solidarity, China’s Role, and Sanctions Evasion

North Korea in Africa: Historical Solidarity, China’s Role, and Sanctions Evasion

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

By: Benjamin R. Young

North Korea serves as a mutually beneficial partner for many African governments. Although these ties are often viewed solely through the lens of economic and security interests, this report shows Pyongyang's deep historical connections and ideological linkages with several of the continent’s nations. North Korea–Africa relations are also bolstered by China, which has been complicit in North Korea’s arms and ivory trade, activities providing funds that likely support the Kim regime’s nuclear ambitions and allow it to withstand international sanctions.

Type: Special Report

Democracy & Governance

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