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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
- Women, Peace, and Security and U.S. Policy: An Overview (January 2018)
- Memorandum composed by the U.S. Civil Society Working Group on Women, Peace and Security (February 2011)
- 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)
Gender-Based Violence Publications
- Ending Child Marriage is Integral to the Women, Peace and Security Agenda (August 2018)
- Violence Against Women in Politics: A Barrier to Peace and Security (May 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 (January 2017)
- Promoting Women's Political Participation: A Pathway to Peace (September 2018)
- Violent Extremism and the Women, Peace, and Security Agenda: Recommendations for the Trump Administration (May 2018)
- The U.S. WPS Agenda and UN Peacekeeping (January2017)
- When War Forgets Women and Girls with Disabilities: Recommendations for the U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security (March 2017)
Policy Recommendation Publications
- Toward a More Inclusive Approach to U.S. Security Assistance (April 2018)
- 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)
- 4Girls GLocal Leadership
- Alliance for Peacebuilding
- Amnesty International USA
- Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED)
- Asia Foundation
- Baha’is of the United States
- 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
- Human Rights Watch
- Institute for State Effectiveness
- 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)
- Mina’s List
- National Democratic Institute
- Our Secure Future: Women Make the Difference
- Oxfam American
- Peace X Peace
- Promundo – U.S.
- 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
- 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 Action for New Directions (WAND)
- Women’s Refugee Commission
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.
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.
- Gender Inclusive Framework and Theory: A Guide for Turning Theory into Practice
U.S. Institute of Peace (August 2018)
- Expanding Funding for Women in Peace and Security: A Messaging Guide
Inclusive Security (August 2017)
- Linking Security of Women & Security of States
Futures Without Violence (May 2017)
- Progress Toward Inclusive Security: Recommendations for the New Administration
Inclusive Security (October 2016)
- Women, Gender and Terrorism: Gendered Aspects of Radicalization
Women in International Security (September 2016)
- The Better Peace Tool
International Civil Society Action Network (September 2016)
- Women and Political Transition: The Risk of Replicating Inequality and the Fundamental Need for Gender Parity in Decision-Making
International Foundation for Electoral Systems (September 2016)
- Women Preventing Violent Extremism: Thought for Action Kit
U.S. Institute of Peace (May 2015)