Violent conflict upends and polarizes societies, disrupting social structures and gender roles. Policies and projects intended to assist communities that are fragile or affected by violence are more successful when they consider the different effects conflict has on men, women, boys, girls and gender and sexual minorities.

USIP's Work

Through over 50 projects worldwide, the Institute acts as a hub for expertise on UNSCR 1325, the U.S. Women, Peace and Security Act — the world’s first whole-of-government law on WPS — and other gender-inclusive approaches.

The Institute’s work is responsive to U.S. government and civil society partners, as well as to a diverse set of international stakeholders that includes women peacebuilders on the ground. USIP’s research and in-country activities help increase understanding of how to incorporate gender dynamics and take into account intersecting identities in peacebuilding, especially amid multi-sectoral security challenges, such as climate change and conflict-related sexual violence.

Recent work includes:

Strengthening Policy and Engagement with Civil Society on WPS

USIP is the secretariat of the U.S. Civil Society Working Group on Women, Peace and Security, which harnesses the expertise of over 65 NGOs with programs around the world. In this role, USIP is a principal convenor of consultations between civil society and the U.S. government on the implementation of the U.S. National Strategy on Women, Peace and Security. This includes direct engagement with the Department of Defense and other U.S. agencies.

Securing Women’s Participation in Peacebuilding

The COVID pandemic, climate change and conflicts both old and new are challenging recent progress for women. In this context, USIP builds on years of work to support inclusive and safe participation in peacebuilding for women from all backgrounds. This includes educating the public and policymakers through events and symposia on protecting the participation of women peacebuilders as they face heightened risks; identifying factors that facilitate women’s local leadership; and supporting women peacebuilders who act as mediators, leaders of nonviolent movements and religious leaders around the world.

In 2020, USIP established the Women Building Peace Award to highlight and amplify the essential work of women peacebuilders in fragile and conflict-affected countries. The award annually honors one woman peacebuilder who has made a substantial contribution to the pursuit of peace and security in her community or country.

To prevent violent extremism in East Africa and the Sahel, USIP supports women’s capacity, agency and influence that help to break down barriers to participation, enable networks of women to lead in their local communities, and facilitate connections with local and national policy actors to affect change.

International research demonstrates that men are not inherently violent, and USIP’s “peaceful masculinities” efforts include collaborating with security actors to promote a more expansive narrative about men by challenging masculine identities that favor violence to solve problems.

Addressing Conflict-Related Sexual Violence

By connecting multi-disiplinary research to practice, USIP amplifies scholarship on some of the most challenging issues on gender and peacebuilding.

Since 2013, USIP has convened the Missing Peace Initiative Scholars Network, which comprises international researchers who analyze and help to address sexual violence in some of the world’s most turbulent places. USIP brings these scholars together annually to identify gaps in knowledge and to make recommendations to policymakers.

USIP experts apply this knowledge to support policy and programming that takes into account the needs of survivors, to address gaps in early conflict and atrocities warning mechanisms, and to train key security and peacekeeping personnel.  

USIP’s research on conflict-related violences bridges key policy areas, including national security, global fragility, atrocities prevention, gender-based violence and women, peace and security.


Gender Inclusive Framework and Theory guide cover

Peacebuilding work is context-dependent, and projects and policies must adapt to meet each new setting. The Gender Inclusive Framework and Theory guide examines both how violent conflict impacts—and is impacted by—gender dynamics. The guide illustrates three different approaches to better shape peacebuilding projects and policies. The guide is available in eight languages: Arabic, Burmese, Dari, English, French, Hausa, Spanish and Swahili.


Related Publications

Sexual Violence Is Not an Inevitable Cost of War

Sexual Violence Is Not an Inevitable Cost of War

Thursday, December 7, 2023

By: Kathleen Kuehnast, Ph.D.

The ever-growing list of conflict zones in which sexual violence has been reported globally this year, including in Israel, Ethiopia, Sudan, Ukraine, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Haiti, underscores the persistent horror of this scourge. Acts of conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) violate not only the physical and mental integrity of the victims but also breach international humanitarian law and human rights principles.

Type: Analysis

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How the Taliban Enables Violence Against Women

How the Taliban Enables Violence Against Women

Thursday, December 7, 2023

By: Belquis Ahmadi

In just 28 months, the Taliban have dismantled Afghan women’s and girls’ rights — imposing draconian restrictions regarding their education, employment and freedom of movement. Any perceived violation of these oppressive policies is often met with harassment, intimidation, and verbal and physical abuse orchestrated by the Taliban’s Ministry of Vice and Virtue. And when women are detained by authorities, they have been subjected to cruel treatment, including torture.

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Missing Peace Initiative: Listen to Survivors to Prevent Sexual Violence in War

Missing Peace Initiative: Listen to Survivors to Prevent Sexual Violence in War

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

By: Kathleen Kuehnast, Ph.D.;  Margot Wallström;  Sofiia Kornieieva;  Kolbassia Haoussou;  Sayda Eisa Ismail;  Mause-Darline Francois

For over a decade, the Missing Peace Initiative has brought together scholars, policymakers, practitioners and survivors of conflict-related sexual violence to discuss new ways to prevent this scourge of war. At the initiative’s second global symposium, USIP spoke with several experts on the progress made in the last 10 years, the importance of hearing directly from survivors and persons with disabilities, and the continued work that needs to be done to end this horrific crime.

Type: Blog

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