The U.S. Civil Society Working Group on Women, Peace and Security (U.S. CSWG) is a non-partisan network of over 50 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).

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 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 October 2020, 86 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, 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 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.

Current Work

Each year the U.S. CSWG develops new strategic objectives to inform all efforts, planning priorities, activities and goals. Over the fiscal year 2020-21, the goal of the U.S. CSWG is to foster greater inclusion across sectors and engage diverse stakeholders to advance the WPS Agenda.

The 2020-21 Objectives are:

  • Objective 1: Address structural barriers that prohibit the meaningful implementation of the WPS Agenda.
  • Objective 2: Diversify and expand the network of support to the Women, Peace and Security Agenda.
  • Objective 3: Serve as the preeminent expert network on Women, Peace and Security issues for the U.S. Congress, the Administration, and civil society.

Stakeholder Engagement

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 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 U.S. CSWG have provided consultation and recommendations on the development and execution of each agency’s implementation plans.

Each of the U.S. Strategy on WPS 2020 implementation plans can be found using the links below:

Public Awareness

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 view the U.S. CSWG’s public event celebrating the twentieth anniversary of UNSCR 1325, visit the event page. 

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.

Follow the U.S. CSWG hashtag #WomenAdvancePeace, to learn more and discover resources and tools members organizations share. Twitter: @US_CSWG

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.

Interested in Joining?

Organizations wanting to join must be classified as 501(c)(3). The types of organizations that join range in focus from academic research to practitioner-based work, but all include some component of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda in their work. Each organization has two representatives to be included on the listserv and remain in regular contact with the U.S. CSWG.

Please email Gender@USIP.org for more information on how to join the U.S. CSWG.

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 WPS Agenda. Below is a sample of resources that members have recently produced.

Latest Publications

The Pope's Visit to Iraq and the Future of the Country’s Christians

The Pope's Visit to Iraq and the Future of the Country’s Christians

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

By: Dr. Elie Abouaoun

The visit of His Holiness Pope Francis to Iraq this week happens in a context of despair felt across Iraq’s ethnic, provincial and sectarian spectrum. Christians in Iraq, victims of decades of oppression, look at this visit as a symbol of hope. They also hope it will help address some of their lingering fears. The pope’s priorities for Iraq’s Christians should be formulated in specific terms. While Christians in Iraq remain hemmed in on how to deal with the past, but optimistic about their future, most feel overwhelmed by the upcoming visit of Pope Francis. As in many other cases, some of the expectations from the visit are indeed too high to meet.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Religion

In India, Women Propel World’s Largest Protest Movement

In India, Women Propel World’s Largest Protest Movement

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

By: Farida Nabourema

Hundreds of thousands of farmers have been protesting new farm laws on the outskirts of the Indian capital city of New Delhi since September 2020. The prominent presence of women in what is perhaps the world’s largest ongoing protest movement, and certainly the biggest domestic challenge facing Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, has put a spotlight on the important role women play in agriculture in this South Asian nation; it also marks a milestone in women’s struggle for equality, and their leadership of nonviolent movements.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Gender; Nonviolent Action

Mobilization, Negotiation, and Transition in Burkina Faso

Mobilization, Negotiation, and Transition in Burkina Faso

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

By: Eloïse Bertrand

In October 2014, a massive popular uprising unseated Burkina Faso’s long-time president, Blaise Compaoré, and drove a civilian-led transition that culminated in free and fair elections in November 2015. This report shows the importance of the national culture of dialogue and consensus and the benefit of a vast, resilient network across negotiating groups. Although violence in the country has since increased, lessons from Burkina Faso’s transition can inform the dynamics of popular mobilization, negotiations, and prospects for long-term peace and democracy in other settings.

Type: Special Report

Nonviolent Action

South Sudan: From 10 States to 32 States and Back Again

South Sudan: From 10 States to 32 States and Back Again

Monday, March 1, 2021

By: Matthew Pritchard; Aly Verjee

Last year, South Sudan reintroduced 10 subnational states in South Sudan, in place of the 32 states controversially created in 2017. Far from being an obscure matter of administrative organization, the initial, dramatic redivision of territory in the midst of protracted violence and large-scale displacement had a significant impact on representation, as well as social, economic, and political relations throughout the country. In 2018-19, researchers commissioned by USIP sought to better understand the decision-making process behind the creation of the 32 states in South Sudan. Researchers Matthew Pritchard and Aly Verjee discuss their findings in light of current developments.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance

Breaking the Stalemate: Biden Can Use the U.S.-Taliban Deal to Bring Peace

Breaking the Stalemate: Biden Can Use the U.S.-Taliban Deal to Bring Peace

Thursday, February 25, 2021

By: Scott Worden

On the eve of the one-year anniversary of the U.S.-Taliban agreement, Afghanistan remains unfortunately far away from peace. The historic agreement paved the way for a full U.S. withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and the start of intra-Afghan talks on a political settlement of the conflict. As the May 1 withdrawal deadline nears, the Biden administration is undertaking a rapid Afghanistan policy review to determine its overall strategy toward the slow-moving intra-Afghan negotiations in Doha, Qatar. A key reason for the lack of movement in talks is that both sides are anxiously waiting to see what Biden decides. 

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Peace Processes

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