The U.S. Civil Society Working Group on Women, Peace, and Security (U.S. CSWG) is a non-partisan network of civil society organizations with expertise on the impacts of women in war and their participation in peacebuilding. Established in 2010, the working group is an engaged coalition to support the U.S. Women, Peace and Security Act and its effective implementation through the U.S. National Strategy on Women, Peace and Security.

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 U.S. government policy that recognizes that women must be critical actors in all our 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 conflict resolution.

The Women, Peace and Security Agenda evolved from the U.N. Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 that the U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted on October 25, 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 management, conflict resolution and sustainable peace efforts. UNSCR 1325’s framework is comprised 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). These national strategies are a tool for member states to determine their priorities and detail actions they will take to implement the objectives of UNSCR 1325. As of April 2019, seventy-nine countries have created and adopted NAPs.

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

On October 6, 2017, the U.S. Women, Peace and Security Act of 2017 was signed into law by President Trump. The Act mandates training for appropriate government personnel on women, peace, and security issues, encourages consultation with stakeholders regarding women’s participation in peace processes, and requires that the President submit a National Strategy on Women, Peace and Security to Congress. The U.S. National Strategy on Women Peace and Security was released to the public 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 and girls’ human rights.
  • Adjust U.S. international programs to improve equality and empowerment outcomes for women.
  • Encourage partner governments to adopt similar Women, Peace and Security focused plans.

Current Work

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

With the 2016 change in the U.S. administration, the U.S. CSWG developed a series of thematic and regional policy briefs on key topics to better inform policymakers and government agencies on ways to continue the U.S. commitment and implementation of the WPS agenda. To supplement the briefs, the project also includes a policy paper outlining key recommendations for the first 100 days of the new administration, and meetings and roundtables to inform and advise senior officials and members of the security think tank community.

The U.S. CSWG published a similar series of briefs after passage of the Women, Peace and Security Act of 2017, and released an overview of existing U.S. policy related to Women, Peace and Security in early 2018.

Following the release of the U.S. National Strategy on Women, Peace and Security, the U.S. CSWG is continuing their work to support and inform policymakers and other key stakeholders on issues related to women, peace and security.

U.S. CSWG Engagement

U.S. Government Representatives

As the “go-to” group of civil society experts on women, peace and security, the U.S. CSWG engages with U.S. government agencies including, the National Security Council, the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the U.S. Department of Defense through consultations, publications and roundtable discussions.

Policymakers

Member organizations of the U.S. CSWG are uniquely positioned to explain the history, rationale, relevance and utility of the women, peace and security agenda in U.S. foreign policy. The U.S. CSWG works to ensure that the WPS agenda is incorporated into legislative documents and actions through regular engagement with key members of Congress and their staffers.

Practitioners

Since its establishment in July 2010, the working group has facilitated over 30 public events and off the record consultations with national and international civil servants, policymakers and civil society to advance the women, peace, and security agenda in the United States and around the world.

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.

 

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 Women, Peace and Security agenda. Below is a sample of resources that members have recently produced.

Related Publications

How Women Are Using Technology to Advance Gender Equality and Peace

How Women Are Using Technology to Advance Gender Equality and Peace

Monday, July 15, 2019

By: Danielle Robertson; Mena Ayazi

From Afghanistan to Sudan, women in conflict areas are increasingly turning to technology to build peace and reduce gender inequality. Just as smart phones and mobile internet facilitate key functions of daily life, they also bring the world women’s voices once confined to the home or marketplace. It is a development with tremendous promise that the international community needs to support by widening access to technology, reducing social barriers to it and providing training that boosts proficiency.

Gender

Kathleen Kuehnast on Women in Conflict Zones

Kathleen Kuehnast on Women in Conflict Zones

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

By: Kathleen Kuehnast, Ph.D.

At a recent USIP event, Nobel laureate Nadia Murad discussed her efforts to end sexual violence and human trafficking—two criminal practices that Kathleen Kuehnast says “have been institutionalized and militarized.” To disincentivize these human rights abuses, Kuehnast says we must reinforce that these heinous but often lucrative practices are “not a livelihood—this is criminality.”

Gender; Human Rights

Women in Conflict: Advancing Women’s Role in Peace and Security

Women in Conflict: Advancing Women’s Role in Peace and Security

Thursday, June 13, 2019

By: Palwasha L. Kakar

Palwasha Kakar, senior program officer for religion and inclusive societies, testified on June 13 at the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights, and Global Women’s Issues' hearing on "Women in Conflict: Advancing Women's Role in Peace and Security.” Her expert testimony as prepared is presented below.

Gender; Peace Processes

Syria’s Ghalia Rahal: Surviving War, Building Peace

Syria’s Ghalia Rahal: Surviving War, Building Peace

Thursday, May 23, 2019

By: Palwasha L. Kakar; James Rupert

Amid the traumas of Syria’s war, women like Ghalia Rahal are building an unprecedented role in peace talks over their country’s future. Rahal—the founder of a network of women’s centers in northwest Syria—has helped energize a Syrian women’s movement despite threats from extremists, attacks on her workplaces, and the assassination of her son, a journalist. Now, Rahal and her women’s network in Syria’s Idlib Province face an extreme threat—the Syrian government military offensive against the province that has killed hundreds and displaced nearly 200,000 people.

Gender

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