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 women, 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.
The wars of the 1990s — particularly in the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) — saw the devastating use of sexual violence not only by individual subordinate soldiers, but as deliberate tactics of war by state and non-state armed actors. In response, a wave of strong advocacy from women’s civil society organizations called for an end to these acts of violence, and their vision was eventually incorporated into U.N. Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 and what is now known as the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda in 2000.
During the height of “The Tensions” in Solomon Islands — an armed civil conflict from 1998 to 2003 — women were thrust into the role of peace symbol, negotiator, trauma counsellor and mediator. Women often went in between the two warring sides to negotiate safe trade and movement of people, encouraged militants to give up arms, and led meetings and marches for peace.
The 2023 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Narges Mohammadi, an imprisoned Iranian scientist, journalist and human rights activist, for her principled and persistent campaign against the increasingly repressive regime in Iran. The award also acknowledged the broader Iranian women’s movement, which last year spearheaded the first counterrevolution in history triggered, led and sustained by females, many in their teens. “This year’s Peace Prize also recognizes the hundreds of thousands of people who, in the preceding year, have demonstrated against Iran’s theocratic regime’s policies of discrimination and oppression targeting women,” the Nobel Committee said.
Over the past two years, and in collaboration with Dr. Erica Chenoweth and Dr. Zoe Marks of Harvard University, USIP has been collecting cross-national data on the frequency and extent of youth and LGBTQ+ frontline participation in major nonviolent action campaigns from 1990-2020. The resulting data set helps to illuminate both the causes and the consequences of youth and LGBTQ+ participation in social movements — with implications for activists, policymakers and academics looking to better support nonviolent action campaigns.
USIP provides expertise in support of the U.S. Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Act, the world’s first whole-of-government law on WPS. The Institute is a trusted convener and thought leader on U.N. Security Council Resolution 1325 and the global WPS agenda.
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.