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.

Related Publications

How Women Drive Nonviolent Movements for Change

How Women Drive Nonviolent Movements for Change

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

By: Fred Strasser

In 2004, when Iraqi political and religious leaders tried to roll back a longstanding law asserting broad rights for women, thousands of Iraqi women mobilized to defend it and to enshrine their rights in the constitution. They marched, wrote protest letters and lobbied the U.S.-led coalition then ruling the country. Carla Koppell, then with the Institute for Inclusive Security, suggested to political analysts evaluating Iraq’s spreading insurgencies that the women’s campaign was a type of activism that U.S. policy should support. But the analysts were dismissive, Koppell recalled in a discussion last week at the U.S. Institute of Peace. “They said, ‘Oh, that’s just women who haven’t taken up arms yet,’” Koppell said. “Yeah. That’s kind of the point, isn’t it? And women were the majority of the country.”

Conflict Analysis & Prevention; Gender; Non-Violent Movements

Dialogue Leaders Push Past Traumas of War, Determined to Grasp for Peace, Part 3

Dialogue Leaders Push Past Traumas of War, Determined to Grasp for Peace, Part 3

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

By: Viola Gienger

(cont’d from Part 1 and Part 2) At the center of some of the world’s most violent conflict zones, a cadre of civic leaders and scholars are defying cynicism and fatalism to achieve what few believe possible: facilitating sustainable negotiated agreements that forestall cycles of violence, allow people who’ve fled violence in their communities to return home, and establish new terms for peaceful cooperation.

Conflict Analysis & Prevention; Violent Extremism; Mediation, Negotiation & Dialogue; Non-Violent Movements

View All Publications