Women’s meaningful involvement in civil resistance movements has shown to be a game changer. Examining movements in Argentina, Chile, Egypt, Liberia, the Palestinian territories, Poland, Syria, and the United States, this report advocates for the full engagement of women and their networks in nonviolent movements for a simple and compelling reason—because greater female inclusion leads to more sustainable peace. 

Summary

  • Nonviolent movements are nearly twice as successful as violent ones in achieving their objectives.
  • Mass participation is part of what makes nonviolent movements so successful, particularly—and importantly—when women are included.
  • Women have historically been denied full access to political spaces usually reserved for, or dominated by, men.
  • All over the world, women have persisted in the face of inequalities to assume roles as strategists, organizers, and active participants in various nonviolent campaigns and movements.
  • Argentina, Chile, Egypt, Liberia, the Palestinian territories, Poland, Syria, and the United States offer pertinent examples of women capitalizing on these inequalities to change the trajectory of nonviolent movements.
  • Research shows that sustainable peace is more likely if women are meaningfully involved, but more quantitative data on the roles women play in nonviolent campaigns is needed.
  • Scholars, policymakers, and practitioners all have a role to play in advancing the understanding of and support for women’s meaningful participation in nonviolent movements.

About the Report

This Special Report examines the influence of gender dynamics on women’s contributions to nonviolent movements, and how women capitalize on these dynamics to create special opportunities for participation and tactical innovation. Funded by the United States Institute of Peace, the report is based on research and interviews, complemented by the author’s expertise in the intersection of gender and political instability.

About the Author

Marie A. Principe is currently the program associate for the Women in Public Service Project and Global Women’s Leadership Initiative at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Her research focuses on the ways conflict and political instability affect women, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa.

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