The U.S. Civil Society Working Group on Women, Peace and Security (U.S. CSWG) is a non-partisan network of over 60 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).
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 2021, 103 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 (revised in 2016), 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 WPS 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.
On March 8, 2021, President Joe Biden signed an executive order establishing the Gender Policy Council (GPC), the first freestanding policy council focused on gender equity and equality within the Executive Office of the President. The GPC seeks to advance gender equity and equality in both domestic and foreign policy development and implementation, working in coordination with the other White House policy councils and across all federal agencies to instill a strategic, whole-of-government approach to gender equality and gender equity. The National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality was released in October 2021.
Each year the U.S. CSWG develops new strategic objectives to inform all efforts, planning priorities, activities and goals. The current goal of the working group is to foster greater inclusion across sectors and engage diverse stakeholders to advance the WPS agenda. This is carried out with the following objectives in mind:
- Objective 1: Promote implementation and integration of WPS across U.S. government strategies and diverse policies and agendas
- Objective 2: Diversify and ensure an intersectional approach to WPS
- Objective 3: Promote learning, sharing, and collaboration within CSWG and across other networks
- Objective 4: Further integrate the principles of diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility into all aspects of U.S CSWG’s work
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 Communications Committee and the Diversity & Outreach Committee.
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 councils and 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 working group have provided consultation and recommendations on the development and execution of each agency’s implementation plans, as well as interagency coordination. In 2021, the U.S. CSWG played an instrumental role in facilitating a U.S. interagency consultation with civil society that produced further recommendations submitted in response to the inaugural U.S. Government Women, Peace and Security Congressional Report.
Each of the U.S. Strategy on WPS 2020 implementation plans can be found using the links below:
- U.S. Department of State
- U.S. Department of Defense
- U.S. Agency for International Development
- U.S. Department of Homeland Security
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 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.
- As a key resource for learning and the exchange of lessons learned between and among civil society and government agencies, the working group publishes policy briefs, analysis, and commentary to inform and shape the policy community’s discussions on the WPS agenda.
- How to Advance a Feminist U.S. Foreign Policy (2021)
- Why Gender and Sexual Minority Inclusion in Peacebuilding Matters (2021)
- Twenty Years After Resolution 1325: Women Remain Undervalued in Peacebuilding (2020)
- COVID-19 and Conflict: Women, Peace and Security (2020)
- Women, Peace, and Security and U.S. Policy: An Overview (2018)
- Toward a More Inclusive Approach to U.S. Security Assistance (2018)
- Promoting Women's Political Participation: A Pathway to Peace (2018)
- Violence Against Women in Politics: A Barrier to Peace and Security (2018)
- Violent Extremism and the Women, Peace, and Security Agenda: Recommendations for the Trump Administration (2018)
- Ending Child Marriage is Integral to the Women, Peace and Security Agenda (2018)
- Understanding U.S. Obligations to Prevent and Respond to Gender-Based Violence Under the U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security (2017)
- The U.S. WPS Agenda and UN Peacekeeping (2017)
- When War Forgets Women and Girls with Disabilities: Recommendations for the U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security (2017)
- U.S. CSWG Letter to President Obama on the 2015 U.S. NAP Review (March 10, 2015)
- 10 Recommended Action Points for the First 150 Days of the U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security (February 14, 2012)
- U.S. Civil Society Working Group Expert Statement for the US. National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security (November 28, 2011)
- Memorandum composed by the U.S. Civil Society Working Group on Women, Peace and Security (February 2011)
- Myanmar’s Ongoing War Against Women (2021)
- Women's Role in Achieving Sustainable Peace in Syria (May 2018)
- Bringing Peace to Yemen by Having Women at the Table: What the U.S. Must Do and Why It Matters (August 2017)
- Building Gender Equality in Ukraine (June 2017)
- Violence and Insecurity in the Northern Triangle of Central America: Dangerous Choices for Women and Girls (December 2016)
- 4Girls GLocal Leadership
- Alliance for Peacebuilding
- American Council on Women, Peace, and Security
- Amnesty International USA
- Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED)
- Asia Foundation
- Baha’is of the United States
- Center for Civilians in Conflict
- Centre for Feminist Foreign Policy
- Counterpart International
- Center for Civil Society and Democracy
- Clearinghouse on Women’s Issues
- D.C. Student Consortium on Women, Peace and Security
- Equal Access
- Equality Now
- Fuller Project for International Reporting
- Futures Without Violence
- George Washington University Program on Gender Equality in International Affairs
- Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace & Security
- Global Gain
- Human Rights Watch
- Institute for State Effectiveness
- Institute of World Affairs
- International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)
- International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN)
- International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES)
- International Republican Institute (IRI)
- International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX)
- McCain Institute
- Mina’s List
- National Democratic Institute
- Our Secure Future: Women Make the Difference
- OutRight Action International
- Oxfam America
- Pacific Forum International
- Peace Direct
- Peace Is Loud
- Peace X Peace
- Population Institute
- Protect the People
- Search for Common Ground
- Strategy for Humanity
- The Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP)
- United Nations Association of the United States of America
- U.S. National Committee of UN Women
- Vital Voices Global Partnership
- Wilson Center
- WomanStats Project
- Women Deliver
- Women Enabled International
- Women for Afghan Women
- Women for Women International
- Women In International Security (WIIS)
- Women of Color Advancing Peace and Security (WCAPS)
- Women’s Refugee Commission
- Women's Regional Network: Afghanistan, Pakistan and India
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.
The types of civil society organizations that join range in focus from academic research to practitioner-based work, but all include some component of the WPS agenda in their work. While member organizations may be involved in WPS advocacy, the U.S. CSWG does not engage in advocacy but rather serves to educate, build capacity and facilitate consultation among key stakeholders to advance the WPS agenda. Each organization has two representatives to be included on the listserv and remain in regular contact with the working group.
Please email email@example.com for more information on how to join the U.S. CSWG.
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.
- Gender Inclusive Peacebuilding Introductory Online Course
U.S. Institute of Peace (2021)
- Feminist Foreign Policy: A Framework
International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) (2020)
- The WIIS Gender Scorecard: Think Tanks and Journals Spotlight on the Nuclear Security Community
Women in International Security (WIIS) (2020)
- Recognizing Women Peacebuilders: Operational Framework to Guarantee the Participation of Women Peacebuilders in Track One Peace Processes
International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN), Women’s Alliance for Security Leadership (WASL) (2020)
- Beyond Consultations Tool: A Tool to Promote More Meaningful of Women in Fragile and Conflict-Affected States
UK Gender Action for Peace and Security (GAPS) network, Women for Women International, Amnesty International UK, Saferworld, and Womankind Worldwide (2019)
- Gender Inclusive Framework and Theory: A Guide for Turning Theory into Practice
U.S. Institute of Peace (2018)
In collaboration with the U.S. CSWG, USIP hosts annual consultations between U.S. government and civil society representatives on Women, Peace and Security. The importance of such consultations is highlighted in video interviews with Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Michelle Strucke and Sanam Naraghi Anderlini, founder and CEO of the International Civil Society Action Network.