This report examines women’s roles in peacebuilding, postconflict reconstruction, and economic development. It draws on discussions at the conference on "The Role of Women in Global Security," held in Copenhagen on October 29–30, 2010, and co-hosted by the U.S. Embassy in Denmark and the Royal Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs in partnership with the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP). Ambassador Laurie S. Fulton, U.S. Ambassador to Denmark and former member of USIP’s board, brought together participants from the United States, Nordic-Baltic countries, Afghanistan, Liberia, and Uganda to focus on the roles that women can play as leaders in areas of active conflict and postconflict.

Special Report: The Role of Women in Global Security

Summary

  • Building lasting peace and security requires women’s participation. Half of the world’s population cannot make a whole peace.
  • Ten years after the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1325 on increasing women’s participation in matters of global security, the numbers of women participating in peace settlements remain marginal.
  • While improvements have been made, women remain underrepresented in public office, at the negotiating table, and in peacekeeping missions.
  • The needs and perspectives of women are often overlooked in postconflict disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR), as well as in security sector reform, rehabilitation of justice, and the rule of law.
  • Many conflicts have been marked by widespread sexual and gender-based violence, which often continues in the aftermath of war and is typically accompanied by impunity for the perpetrators.
  • A continuing lack of physical security and the existence of significant legal constraints in postconflict societies hamper women’s integration into economic life and leadership.
  • Best practices for increasing women’s participation include deployment of gender-balanced peacekeeping units, a whole-of-government approach to security sector and judicial reform, and more intentional solicitation of the input of women at the community level on priorities for national budgets and international programs.

About the Report

This report examines women’s roles in peacebuilding, postconflict reconstruction, and economic development. It draws on discussions at the conference on "The Role of Women in Global Security," held in Copenhagen on October 29–30, 2010, and co-hosted by the U.S. Embassy in Denmark and the Royal Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs in partnership with the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP). Ambassador Laurie S. Fulton, U.S. Ambassador to Denmark and former member of USIP’s board, brought together participants from the United States, Nordic-Baltic countries, Afghanistan, Liberia, and Uganda to focus on the roles that women can play as leaders in areas of active conflict and postconflict.

Participants from the public and private sector, including the military, civilian, NGO, academic, and corporate worlds, joined to share experiences and best-practice recommendations on how to increase women’s participation in their communities to effect positive change: resolving active conflicts, assisting in postconflict reintegration, and furthering economic development. Ambassador Fulton noted that men and women with first-person practical experience were able to share their recommendations with those “who represent political leadership from host countries and international organizations who can encourage implementation of those recommendations.”

Related Publications

Negotiations Are the Only Way to End Afghan Conflict, Says Abdullah

Negotiations Are the Only Way to End Afghan Conflict, Says Abdullah

Thursday, June 25, 2020

By: Adam Gallagher

The head of Afghanistan’s new peace council said yesterday that he is optimistic that intra-Afghan talks can start in the coming weeks, but increased levels of violence and details of prisoner releases may slow the start of talks. Chairman Abdullah added that the government’s negotiating team will be inclusive and represent common values in talks with the Taliban. The team “will be diverse and represent all walks of life,” Abdullah said. Afghans and analysts have expressed concern that without an inclusive negotiating team, the country’s hard-won, democratic gains could be compromised for the sake of a deal with the Taliban.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Democracy & Governance; Peace Processes

Afghan President Ghani: Freeing Prisoners Can Speed Peace Talks

Afghan President Ghani: Freeing Prisoners Can Speed Peace Talks

Thursday, June 11, 2020

By: USIP Staff

Afghanistan’s government is accelerating its release of thousands of Taliban prisoners as a step toward peace talks, President Ashraf Ghani told an online audience today. The number of prisoners freed should now surpass 3,000, Ghani said, announcing that 2,000 more will be released “within a very short period.” That move, taking the total of freed Taliban fighters to 5,000, would fulfill a central Taliban pre-condition for peace talks. Ghani voiced optimism that a rare “window of opportunity” has opened for peace negotiations, but said further steps are vital to seize the chance to end the nation’s 40-plus years of warfare.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Peace Processes

Coronavirus Complicates an Already Dire Situation for Afghan Women

Coronavirus Complicates an Already Dire Situation for Afghan Women

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

By: Belquis Ahmadi

Amid the coronavirus pandemic many countries around the world have reported an alarming increase in domestic violence. Indeed, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for measures to address the “horrifying surge in domestic violence” linked to COVID-related lockdowns. In Afghanistan—one of the worst countries in the world for women by almost any metric—the lockdown exacerbates the dire situation many Afghan women already face. As the Afghan peace process inches forward amid a global pandemic, Afghan women’s inclusion and input are critical to combatting COVID and building peace.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Gender; Global Health

Bourgeois Jihad: Why Young, Middle-Class Afghans Join the Islamic State

Bourgeois Jihad: Why Young, Middle-Class Afghans Join the Islamic State

Monday, June 1, 2020

By: Borhan Osman

Ever since the Islamic State in Khorasan Province emerged in Afghanistan in 2015, policymakers and security forces have regarded it as an “imported” group that can be defeated militarily. This approach, however, fails to take into account the long-standing and complex historical and sociological factors that make the group’s ideology appealing to young, urban Afghan men and women. Based on interviews with current and former members of ISKP, this report documents the push and pull factors prompting a steady stream of young Afghans to join and support ISKP.

Type: Peaceworks

Violent Extremism

View All Publications