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

Payton Knopf on the Stakes in Sudan

Payton Knopf on the Stakes in Sudan

Thursday, May 23, 2019

By: Payton Knopf

What’s at stake in Sudan as tense negotiations between the Transitional Military Council and protesters continue? “We need to see a swift transition to civilian-led rule,” says Payton Knopf. “Otherwise I’m afraid what will result is increased instability … or potentially a catastrophic failure of the state.”

Conflict Analysis & Prevention

Syria’s Ghalia Rahal: Surviving War, Building Peace

Syria’s Ghalia Rahal: Surviving War, Building Peace

Thursday, May 23, 2019

By: Palwasha L. Kakar; James Rupert

Amid the traumas of Syria’s war, women like Ghalia Rahal are building an unprecedented role in peace talks over their country’s future. Rahal—the founder of a network of women’s centers in northwest Syria—has helped energize a Syrian women’s movement despite threats from extremists, attacks on her workplaces, and the assassination of her son, a journalist. Now, Rahal and her women’s network in Syria’s Idlib Province face an extreme threat—the Syrian government military offensive against the province that has killed hundreds and displaced nearly 200,000 people.


Belquis Ahmadi on the Afghan Peace Process

Belquis Ahmadi on the Afghan Peace Process

Thursday, May 16, 2019

By: Belquis Ahmadi

Reflecting on recent conversations in Doha and Kabul, USIP’s Belquis Ahmadi says that Afghans told her they want peace, but are not willing to sacrifice the hard-won gains of the last 18 years to get there. As U.S.-Taliban talks move forward, the extent of the Taliban’s evolution on issues like women’s rights remains in question. “I’ll believe it when I see it,” says Ahmadi.

Gender; Peace Processes

Amid Rising Sahel Violence, Burkina Faso Builds a Response

Amid Rising Sahel Violence, Burkina Faso Builds a Response

Thursday, May 16, 2019

By: James Rupert

A perfect storm of violence is breaking upon Africa’s Sahel. Since late 2018, communal conflicts—many over access to food, water or productive land—have produced thousands of deadly attacks. Across the region, nearly 4,800 people died in conflicts from November to March, according to the violence-monitoring group ACLED. The greatest surge in bloodshed is in Burkina Faso, where communal militias or religious extremists killed 500 people over five months. But amid the dire headlines, governments and civic groups in Burkina Faso and other Sahel countries cite progress in stabilizing communities with a basic step that simply has seldom been undertaken: broad, local dialogues among community groups, police forces and officials. Community leaders and government officials say they are now expanding those dialogues to improve national security policies to help counter the tide of violence.

Fragility & Resilience; Justice, Security & Rule of Law

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