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.


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.


Special Reports


USIPeace Briefings


Training Programs


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

After Bashir, A New Dawn in Sudan? (Part 1)

After Bashir, A New Dawn in Sudan? (Part 1)

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

By: Susan Stigant; Elizabeth Murray

Longtime Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir was ousted last Thursday, 30 years after he took power in the same fashion he was overthrown: by a military coup. The military takeover was spurred by months of popular protests over rising food prices, economic mismanagement and demands...

Democracy & Governance

Myanmar’s 2020 Elections and Conflict Dynamics

Myanmar’s 2020 Elections and Conflict Dynamics

Monday, April 15, 2019

By: Mary Callahan; Myo Zaw Oo

In late 2020, Myanmar will hold a general election for more than a thousand seats in Union, state, and regional legislative bodies. The next year and a half will also see two high-level, conflict-laden processes capture domestic and international attention—the 21st Century Panglong peace conference and possible attempts to repatriate Rohingya refugees. This report evaluates the environment in which the peace process, Rohingya repatriation, and the election intersect and identifies opportunities for mitigating conflict in the run-up to the election.

Electoral Violence; Democracy & Governance; Peace Processes

Q&A: Libya’s Sudden New Risk of War

Q&A: Libya’s Sudden New Risk of War

Friday, April 12, 2019

By: Nathaniel L. Wilson; USIP Staff

Just as the United Nations was preparing to host a national conference in Libya this month to arrange for national elections to unify the country’s fractured governance, the faction that dominates the country’s east, the Libyan National Army, launched a military offensive last week on the capital, Tripoli. With the past week’s fighting, “the likelihood is greater than at any point since 2014 for destructive and bloody conflict” of an uncertain duration and outcome, according to Nate Wilson, who manages USIP programs in Libya. Wilson monitors Libya from neighboring Tunisia while working with Libyan officials, researchers on projects to inform international policymakers, and with local Libyan groups that work to reconcile disputes and build a foundation for national peacemaking. In response to questions, he discussed what’s at stake in the new fighting, and how the international community might respond.

Conflict Analysis & Prevention

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