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

Afghanistan: Can This Be a Real Peace Process?

Afghanistan: Can This Be a Real Peace Process?

Monday, March 23, 2020

By: Sharif Shah Safi

Like every Afghan, I’m watching with fear and hope to see what will emerge from last month’s agreement between the United States and the Taliban. My hope is that it can help end more than 40 years of war. My fear is that the current process may not result in a just and dignified peace where all Afghans are considered equal citizens, regardless of gender, race or ethnicity. I fear that the Taliban’s rigid interpretations of Islamic laws will undermine our country’s gains of the past 18 years: an open media, women’s presence in public spheres, and more.

Type: Blog

Gender; Peace Processes; Youth

What Women Have Won

What Women Have Won

Friday, March 6, 2020

By: Nancy Lindborg

Five years ago, as the newly appointed and first woman president of the United States Institute of Peace, I was celebrating International Women’s Day in Kabul with the wonderful Afghan women on our USIP country team. Having first visited Afghanistan in 1997, when the country was in the grip of the Taliban, it was a joyous opportunity to mark nearly two decades of progress with this group of professional women—lawyers, scholars, and program managers.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Gender

How Kenya’s Women Are Preventing Extremism and Violence

How Kenya’s Women Are Preventing Extremism and Violence

Thursday, March 5, 2020

By: Nicoletta Barbera

A group of women gathered recently in Kiambu, an overcrowded Kenyan town, to build their local response to a national problem: recruitment, especially of young men, by extremist groups such as al-Shabab. Kiambu’s women form one of several groups nationwide that are launching local dialogues—typically among community members and authorities—to build well-rooted efforts to counter extremist influence. These groups are part of a network called Sisters Without Borders, which has risen from Kenya’s grassroots over the past five years. On the upcoming International Women’s Day, the story of Kenya’s sisters is worth noting as a success for women building peace and confronting terrorism in their homelands.

Type: Blog

Gender; Violent Extremism

Belquis Ahmadi on Afghan Women and the Peace Process

Belquis Ahmadi on Afghan Women and the Peace Process

Thursday, March 5, 2020

By: Belquis Ahmadi

Since 2001, Afghan women have assumed larger roles in society—becoming teachers, doctors and government officials. With intra-Afghan talks expected to begin this month, USIP’s Belquis Ahmadi says it’s important the Taliban “accept the reality that today’s Afghanistan is very different from the country they ruled” when it comes to women’s rights.

Type: Podcast

Gender; Peace Processes

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