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).
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.
- 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.
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.
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:
- 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 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.
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
- Center for Civilians in Conflict
- Counterpart International
- Center for Civil Society and Democracy
- Clearinghouse on Women’s Issues
- 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
- 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 is Loud
- 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
- 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 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.
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.
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.
- 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 (August 2018)