Over the past 15 years, USIP has supported over 90 projects related to women, conflict, and peacebuilding. From grants to fellowships, from training to education, from working groups to publications, the Institute strives to encourage more practice and scholarly work on women, and seeks to deepen understanding of the role of women in conflict and in peace.

On the Issues: Women, Conflict, and Peacebuilding

Over the past 15 years, USIP has supported over 90 projects related to women, conflict, and peacebuilding.  From grants to fellowships, from training to education, from working groups to publications, the Institute strives to encourage more practice and scholarly work on women, and seeks to deepen understanding of the role of women in conflict and in peace.

The Institute's Grant Program has funded over 50 projects related to women throughout the world, including Afghanistan, Cambodia, Colombia, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, Pakistan, Northern Ireland, Sudan, Thailand, and Uganda. Grant projects address both practice and research, and include a wide range of women-focused concerns from war-time sexual violence; women as negotiators; cross-ethnic and religious cooperation among women; building social tolerance and respect for women's equality; to rule of law problems for women in post-conflict societies.

The Institute integrates gender issues into its core education and training programs. Internationally, USIP conducts ongoing training programs in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, and makes great effort to stress the importance of including women as participants in training programs, especially in more traditional societies where women are often excluded.

Projects

Below are brief descriptions of some of USIP's recent projects that focus on women:

  • Network of Iraqi Widows
    Decades of conflict and economic sanctions have turned an unusually high percentage of Iraqi women into widows.  For these women and their families, the death of their partners and primary breadwinners is a source of animosity toward the "other," but also a basis for reconciliation. USIP in concert with an Iraqi partner is encouraging the latter through joint training sessions with widows drawn from both Sunni and Shi'i communities in Baghdad. Widows received training in conflict management, while concurrently working to overcome their shared animosity. Widows who graduate from the program identify other widows for future training. Through the initiative, Sunni and Shi'i widows (and their children) are building relationships that cut across sectarian lines, are developing peacebuilding skills relevant to their communities, and are working with civil and governmental organizations to address the practical needs of widows and their children.
  • Women and Afghan Jirgas
    Despite some progress in Afghanistan, citizens often view the police and judiciary with suspicion. In the absence of a reliable formal judiciary, traditional local decision-making bodies called Jirgas offer an alternative framework for conflict resolution. In the Western province of Herat, the Institute is supporting a project to help reform Jirgas and increase the participation of women and minority groups in their work. 
  • Role of Women in Demobilization and Reconciliation in Colombia
    In Colombia, women have played central roles in community-based peacebuilding. To document their contributions, and to distill and disseminate lessons learned, USIP is supporting a local NGO in Putumayo as it assesses the role of local women in demobilization and reconciliation efforts.
  • Human Rights and The women of Iraq Individuals who cannot read often have difficulty accessing information on human rights and other key concepts of democracy. This is the case in rural Iraq, where the female literacy rate is less than 40 percent. Recognizing this, USIP funded a project to develop a 45-minute animated film on the status of girls and women and their rights in Iraqi society. Produced in both Arabic and Kurdish, the film targets primary, middle, and high school students, as well as women in rural areas. In just 36 weeks the film was shown in 700 schools, and was broadcast via local and satellite television throughout Iraq. In interviews with participating educators and students, 95 percent indicated that the film and workshops strengthened their understanding of democracy, the constitutional process, and human rights.
  • Conflict Transformation at the Local Level: Youth, Women, and Children in the Nuba Mountains Region of Sudan
    In the Nuba Mountains, with the support of USIP, an NGO pursues a multifaceted approach to conflict transformation at the local level. Activities include conflict resolution and reconciliation training sessions for youth, ex-combatants, and women; peace festivals, sporting events and exchange programs between four villages enmeshed in low-level conflict; and theater productions to teach school children and their parents about conflict resolution and a culture of peace.
  • Women's Memories of War, Peace and Resistance From Colombia 1995-2008
    USIP supports a Historical Memory Commission report on the gendered dynamics of war in the northern coastal region of Colombia. The study analyzes how violence against women occurred within the armed conflict, the gender discriminatory mechanisms involved in that violence, the participation of women within that violence, and also the resistance initiatives promoted by women.
  • Understanding Sexual Violence During War: A Comparative Study
    In an effort to explore the causal mechanisms that underlie variations in wartime sexual violence and suggest ways to reduce such violence, USIP funds this study that combines statistical analysis of data gathered by truth commissions, human rights groups, war crimes tribunals, and medical groups, with field research in El Salvador, Israel and the Palestinian territories, Peru, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, South Africa, and Colombia.

Publications

Special Reports

Peaceworks

USIPeace Briefings

Events

Training Programs

Specialists

Below are specialists that focus on women and conflict:

  • Virginia Bouvier
  • Kathleen Kuehnast
  • Asieh Mir
  • Manal Omar
  • Marie Pace
  • Mary Hope Schwoebel
  • Mona Yacoubian

Latest Publications

Afghan Talks Are Historic Chance for Peace, Says Top U.S. Negotiator

Afghan Talks Are Historic Chance for Peace, Says Top U.S. Negotiator

Thursday, September 24, 2020

By: Adam Gallagher

Afghan peace talks that began in Doha on September 12 are a “historic opportunity” that could bring a close to four decades of conflict in the country and end America’s longest war, said the U.S. special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation on Thursday. The ongoing talks are the “heart of the Afghan peace process,” said Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad. “It's important to be fully aware of the significance of this moment, and to recognize its historic relevance.” With a note of a cautious optimism, he said there is hope but still a long road ahead, with many thorny issues to be negotiated.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Peace Processes

Normalizing Sudan-Israel Relations Now is a Dangerous Game

Normalizing Sudan-Israel Relations Now is a Dangerous Game

Thursday, September 24, 2020

By: Payton Knopf; Jeffrey Feltman

With the UAE and Bahrain having joined Egypt and Jordan in declaring peace with Israel, those asking “who’s next?” often look enthusiastically westward, toward Khartoum. Adding new chapters to the Abraham Accords is in the U.S. interest, but so is a successful transition in Sudan. And the sequence of these steps is critical. A unified Sudanese government with a popular mandate will be better able to forge a warm and sustainable peace with Israel, whereas a rushed Israeli-Sudanese agreement has the potential to unravel Sudan’s transition and generate renewed support for Sudan’s Islamists and their foreign backers.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance; Global Policy

Scott Worden on Afghan Peace Talks

Scott Worden on Afghan Peace Talks

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

By: Scott Worden

With talks finally underway between the Taliban and Afghan government, USIP’s Scott Worden says initial expectations should be tempered, as the chances for success are “low in the short term, but much higher than if the talks hadn’t begun,” adding, “you can’t end a war without starting a peace process.”

Type: Podcast

Peace Processes

How International Security Support Contributed to Mali’s Coup

How International Security Support Contributed to Mali’s Coup

Monday, September 21, 2020

By: Ena Dion; Emily Cole

Since a 2012 coup, Mali has received significant security assistance from United States, France, the European Union and other foreign donors to address violent extremism and insurgency and help stabilize the country. In the wake of the August military coup, it is clear that strategy has backfired—and that, in fact, the failure of international security sector assistance to prioritize governance likely contributed to the conditions that led to the coup. With the military now in control and the country facing an uncertain democratic transition, the mistake donors made prior to the coup is clear: They worked to develop Mali’s security capacity, but neglected governance of the security sector and beyond. If international donors, particularly the United States and France, want to help bring peace and stability to Mali—and the region—and achieve their own security objectives they will need to heed these lessons and change their approach to security sector assistance.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Justice, Security & Rule of Law

Six Things to Watch at the U.N. General Assembly

Six Things to Watch at the U.N. General Assembly

Monday, September 21, 2020

By: Colin Thomas-Jensen; Tyler Beckelman

This year’s United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) meeting, happening against the backdrop of the 75th anniversary of the U.N.’s founding, was supposed to be a major milestone—a moment for world leaders to reflect on the organization’s pursuit of peaceful international cooperation since the devastation of World War II, and to consider how the multilateral system should evolve to tackle the 21st century’s biggest challenges. Instead, the COVID-19 pandemic has upended the traditional in-person gathering at the U.N.’s headquarters in New York City. This UNGA will be a much more muted affair, with participants using the same videoconferencing technology to which we have all become accustomed in 2020. But the challenges facing the international system are as pressing and complicated as ever. As UNGA goes virtual, here are six issues to watch.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global Policy

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