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

Myanmar Coup Weakens Southeast Asia Security and Cooperation

Myanmar Coup Weakens Southeast Asia Security and Cooperation

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

By: Brian Harding; Jason Tower

Southeast Asian governments have reacted to the coup in Myanmar in diverse ways that reflect divergent interests. Some, such as Singapore, have condemned the generals’ violence against anti-coup protesters. Others, including Vietnam, have strategic concerns behind their limited willingness to speak out. Cambodia may believe it benefits from the takeover as international attention shifts to Myanmar. They can all agree, though, that fallout from the coup is damaging the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) at a time when the broader regional order is in flux.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Conflict Analysis & Prevention; Global Policy

Can Civil Resistance Breakthroughs Advance Democracy?

Can Civil Resistance Breakthroughs Advance Democracy?

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

By: Jonathan Pinckney

We are in one of the largest waves of nonviolent resistance in history. Even the COVID-19 pandemic could not stop massive uprisings in Thailand, Belarus, Myanmar and elsewhere as ordinary citizens use nonviolent tactics to challenge entrenched authoritarians and demand reform. Yet, even as more and more people have hit the streets to push for change, the Varieties of Democracy project reports that global democracy has never been weaker and the long trend of growing autocracy has only accelerated. What can be done to turn this around?

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Nonviolent Action

Struggle for Sinjar: Iraqis’ Views on Governance in the Disputed District

Struggle for Sinjar: Iraqis’ Views on Governance in the Disputed District

Monday, April 12, 2021

By: Osama Gharizi

Iraq’s Sinjar district and its communities have struggled to recover from the recent conflict against the Islamic State group (ISIS). This is due in large part to the fact that the district is one of 14 territories under dispute between Iraq’s federal government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). As a result, Sinjar has become an arena for competition between the federal government, KRG and other actors in the post-ISIS period. This reality has led to frustration, anger and disillusionment among the communities in Sinjar, the majority of whom are Yazidi (Ezidi).

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance

New Talks Could Help Iraq Find Room to Stabilize Amid Crises

New Talks Could Help Iraq Find Room to Stabilize Amid Crises

Thursday, April 8, 2021

By: James Rupert

As Iraq’s government struggles to build stability in the face of economic decline, COVID, political protest and periodic violence, it may see new hope for some maneuvering room in its narrow political space between the United States and Iran. One day after U.S. and Iranian officials agreed through intermediaries to work toward restoring the 2015 accord over Iran’s nuclear program, American and Iraqi diplomats announced an intent to remove U.S. combat forces from Iraq. Both initiatives face deep uncertainties. But if successful they could widen Iraq’s difficult path toward peace.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global Policy; Mediation, Negotiation & Dialogue

Getting to the Source: The Importance of Field Research

Getting to the Source: The Importance of Field Research

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

By: Alastair Reed; Boglarka Bozsogi

Travel restrictions and social distancing practices put in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic have largely ground field research to a halt. Fieldwork plays an essential but often underappreciated role in both understanding violent extremism and developing policy responses to it. It is vital, therefore, that funders and policymakers support the return of such important work in a post-pandemic world.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Conflict Analysis & Prevention; Education & Training

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