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 (WPS) 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-disciplinary 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 violence 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

The Latest @ USIP: How Civil Society is Addressing Haiti’s Crisis

The Latest @ USIP: How Civil Society is Addressing Haiti’s Crisis

Monday, March 25, 2024

By: Dr. Marie-Marcelle Deschamps

In the past few years, life in Haiti has been dominated by gangs’ growing control over huge swathes of the capital, Port-au-Prince. For Haitian families, this crisis has meant extreme violence, pervasive unemployment, lack of education for children and reduced access to health care. 2023 Women Building Peace Award finalist Dr. Marie-Marcelle Deschamps serves as the deputy executive director, the head of the women's health program and the manager of the clinical research unit of GHESKIO Centers in Port-au-Prince. She spoke to USIP about how her work helps women and their families, and what the global community can do to help Haitian civil society address this devastating humanitarian crisis.

Type: Blog

Conflict Analysis & PreventionGender

Addressing Gendered Violence in Papua New Guinea: Opportunities and Options

Addressing Gendered Violence in Papua New Guinea: Opportunities and Options

Thursday, March 7, 2024

By: Negar Ashtari Abay, Ph.D.;  Kathleen Kuehnast, Ph.D.;  Gordon Peake, Ph.D.;  Melissa Demian, Ph.D.

Each year, more than 1.5 million women and girls in Papua New Guinea experience gender-based violence tied to intercommunal conflict, political intimidation, domestic abuse, and other causes. It is, according to a 2023 Human Rights Watch report, “one of the most dangerous places to be a woman or girl.” Bleak as this may seem, it is not hopeless. USIP’s new report identifies several promising approaches for peacebuilding programming to reduce gender-based violence and effect meaningful and lasting change in Papua New Guinea.

Type: Special Report


The Challenges Facing Afghans with Disabilities

The Challenges Facing Afghans with Disabilities

Thursday, February 29, 2024

By: Belquis Ahmadi

In Afghanistan, obtaining accurate data on the number of persons with disabilities — including gender-disaggregated information — has always been a challenging endeavor. But based on the data we do have, it’s clear that more than four decades of violent conflict have left a considerable portion of the Afghan population grappling with various forms of disabilities, both war-related and otherwise. And the pervasive lack of protective mechanisms, social awareness and empathy surrounding disability continue to pose formidable challenges for individuals with disabilities, with women being disproportionately affected.

Type: Analysis

GenderHuman Rights

The Latest @ USIP: Children Born of War

The Latest @ USIP: Children Born of War

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

By: Eunice Otuko Apio

Unfortunately, children born as a result of conflict-related sexual violence have been overlooked in the international community’s peacebuilding agenda for a long time. Eunice Otuko Apio, a member of Uganda's Parliament and a finalist for USIP’s 2022 Women Building Peace Award, discusses why children born of war have historically been marginalized in peace processes, how resources can be used to support them and their families more effectively, and how women can contribute to peacebuilding more broadly.

Type: Blog

GenderHuman Rights

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