Violent conflict and extremism have different impacts on men and women, and understanding those distinctive effects is critical for designing effective peacebuilding approaches and ensuring greater gender equality and protection for women and girls. Over the past two decades, international organizations and the U.S. government have increasingly recognized the importance of gender equality in creating enduring, peaceful societies. The U.S. Institute of Peace advances scholarship, carries out programs on the ground, and informs policy on issues of gender, peace and security. USIP works with academics, the military, peacekeepers, diplomats and practitioners to advance women’s participation in decision-making, promote peaceful concepts of masculinity and prevent sexual violence in conflict. Learn more in our fact sheet on USIP's Work on Gender.
Afghanistan this year adopted a new penal code that moves the country toward meeting international standards on criminal justice. At the same time, it underscores the continued difficulties of reinforcing rights for Afghan women and girls. One reflection of this is its preservation of the discredited practice of “virginity testing”—a decision that Afghan women increasingly have opposed.
Intermittently, images spring from the news to shock us with the suffering of children brutalized by war or their families' desperate flight as refugees. Three years ago, the body of Alan Kurdi, a Syrian boy drowned on a Turkish beach, administered that shock. Central American children uprooted by the violence of Honduras or El Salvador now underscore the same message—that amid the world's people scarred by war and violence, a special danger is children. Among the 65 million people torn from their homes, most by warfare, roughly half are children.
For International Women’s Month, Kathleen Kuehnast underscores the importance of women’s contribution to peace and security. Dr. Kuehnast argues that the new millennium, whether through U.N. Security Council Resolution 1325 or less formal engagement via social media, has empowered women to take a greater role in peace building.
Conflict-related sexual violence is increasingly recognized as not only a weapon of war, but a threat to international peace and security. In 2012, the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), the Human Rights Center at the University of California-Berkeley School of Law, and Women in International Security (WIIS), launched the Missing Peace Initiative to examine the issue of sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict settings...
Afghanistan’s next generation of leaders have an opportunity to break out of the cycles of violence that have caused civil wars, insurgencies, and widespread human rights abuses and domestic violence over the past decades. To do this, government officials and community leaders need to have practical skills to identify sources of conflict and know how to de-escalate tensions and negotiate peaceful solutions.