USIP's Work on Gender
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.
Protecting the Participation of Women Peacebuilders
As global conflict and violence rise to unprecedented levels, the imperative for proactive protection of women peacebuilders has never been more urgent. In honor of International Women’s Day, the U.S. Institute of Peace invited U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet to share her message to the international community on the significant importance of protecting women’s participation in peace and security.
Despite prior assurances that they had moderated their positions, the past year of Taliban rule has been marred by a disturbing rollback of women’s and girl’s basic rights as 20 years of advancements have nearly evaporated. Meanwhile, the current economic crisis has forced young Afghans out of the workforce and left them in dire financial and humanitarian straits. USIP’s Belquis Ahmadi and Matthew Parkes examine how the Taliban’s oppressive policies have affected Afghan women, girls and youth over the last 12 months and offer ways for the United States and international community to support Afghanistan’s next generation.
Kenyans head to the polls on August 9 to vote for president, members of the National Assembly and Senate, and County Leadership for the country’s 47 counties. Elections are an important moment for any country, but the stakes are particularly high ahead for Kenya of Tuesday’s polls. Election violence has been a major issue in previous elections, and there are fears that this vote could spur conflict. Kenya’s next government will face significant challenges. Like many countries in the region, Kenya is suffering from a severe drought, rising debt and inflation, with food prices soaring by 15 percent in the last year. With the largest economy in East Africa, Kenya’s stability is critical for the wider region.
When the Taliban returned to power last August, many wondered if the previous two decades of progress and change in Afghanistan would temper the group’s previously draconian policies. But despite some initial rhetoric that hinted in the direction of reform, the Taliban have recommitted — rather than reconsidered — their repressive approach to governance. Over the last 11 months, the group has instituted massive rollbacks for women’s rights, as well as pushed marginalized groups further to the periphery in a country mired in economic and humanitarian crises.
In support of the Evidence Act and as part of the U.S. national security architecture, USIP is carrying out its own learning agenda. Peacebuilding has long been viewed as too messy and complex for evidence-based approaches — but USIP’s mix of research and practice belies that assumption.
The field of peacebuilding is based upon principles of justice, diversity, equity and inclusion (JDEI). However, peacebuilding organizations are often asked to operate in contexts rooted in systemic injustice and inequity. This can jeopardizing an organization’s ability to embody and implant JDEI values — as well as affect their impact and effectiveness, their stakeholder engagement and their understanding of how unconscious bias can permeate an organization’s programming. Launched in Spring 2021, USIP’s JDEI Initiative cooperates with civil society and U.S. government leaders to host workshops and public events, conduct research, and engage with partners around the world to further the embedment of JDEI in peacebuilding practices.
The global effort to ensure women’s full and meaningful participation in peace processes is at risk. The COVID pandemic and conflicts both old and new are challenging recent progress for women like UNSCR 1325 and the U.S. Women, Peace and Security Act, making the world more dangerous for women human rights defenders and peacebuilders. But International Women’s Day 2022 and U.S. National Women’s History Month both present an opportunity to renew the global commitment to the protection of women’s full participation in the fields of security and peacebuilding.