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

Invaluable, Yet Too Often Invisible: Time to Recognize Women Building Peace

Invaluable, Yet Too Often Invisible: Time to Recognize Women Building Peace

Thursday, December 12, 2019

By: Nancy Lindborg

On a recent visit to Colombia, I visited a deeply moving space for reconciliation, Fragmentos, where the guns of the FARC have been hammered into a beautiful rippling floor by many of the women who suffered terribly during the conflict. It was a powerful reminder that though women often bear the greatest burden during times of war, they are also often leaders on the path to peace. In my three decades of doing this work, I’ve repeatedly been humbled by the women I’ve met who have risked their lives and found creative ways to build peace—from women forming neighborhood councils in Syria and Iraqi women securing their legal rights through relentless efforts, to grandmothers riding around on motorbikes to intervene in local disputes in Kenya.

Type: Blog

Gender

What Policymakers Can Learn About Gender from Terrorists

What Policymakers Can Learn About Gender from Terrorists

Monday, November 18, 2019

By: Leanne Erdberg

The road to violent extremism is neither simple nor predictable, with diverse motivations and discrete, individual paths. No singular profile accurately describes all those who decide to join. Millions of people may experience similar situations and live in similar contexts but never join an extremist group, while some people will join who would we would not deem at risk. This makes preventing and countering violent extremism exceptionally difficult. It’s an even more intractable task when gender is an afterthought, or worse, gender is used to justify over-simplified, one-size-fits-all approaches.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Gender; Violent Extremism

First Lady Rula Ghani on Afghan Women’s Consensus

First Lady Rula Ghani on Afghan Women’s Consensus

Friday, November 15, 2019

By: USIP Staff

As Afghans, the United States and the international community seek an end to the war in Afghanistan, the country’s first lady, Rula Ghani, says thousands of Afghan women nationwide have expressed a clear consensus on two points. They insist that the war needs to end, and that the peace to follow must continue to build opportunities for women. The single greatest step to advance Afghan women’s cause is education and training to build their professional capacities, Ghani told an audience at USIP.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Gender; Peace Processes

USIP's Work on Gender

USIP's Work on Gender

Friday, November 1, 2019

Violent conflict upends and polarizes societies, disrupting social structures and gender roles. Projects and policies intended to assist communities that are fragile or affected by violence are more successful when they consider the different effects conflict has on men, women, boys, and girls. Approaches to conflict resolution that account for gender issues and include a broader array of society reduce gender-based violence, enhance gender equality, defuse conflict, and lead to more sustainable peace. 

Type: Factsheet

Gender

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