Curbing US involvement abroad was a signal campaign promise of the new US administration. Anything that smacked of nation-building drew the sharpest criticism. The appeal to many voters of such disengagement is understandable and the view is woven into an evolving foreign policy.
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.
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.”