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Women, Peace and Security

  • Women from all over Côte d'Ivoire gather to celebrate International Women's Day at the Palais de la Culture in Abidjan.
Women in Côte d'Ivoire celebrate International Women's Day. UN Photo/Ky Chung

Increasing the full, equal and meaningful participation of women in peacemaking, conflict prevention and peacebuilding efforts is a key priority for the United Nations Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA). Women, Peace and Security (WPS) first made it on to the Security Council’s agenda in 2000, with the adoption of Security Council Resolution 1325 on WPS. However, despite many global and regional commitments and initiatives, the number of women included in formal peacemaking processes remains low; and many peace agreements do not include gender provisions that sufficiently address women’s security and peacebuilding needs.

In line with the Secretary-General’s forward looking goals for the decade (S/2019/800, para 120) and his) directives on women, peace and security (S/2020/946, para 113), DPPA is supporting multi-track efforts that increase the involvement of women everywhere, integrate gender equality, and shape strategies based on the priorities of women’s rights constituencies.   This includes working with Special Envoys and Special Representatives of the Secretary-General to design and support strategies for inclusive peace processes. From Colombia to Syria, the Department is also exploring new pathways for participation through digital inclusion strategies and virtual consultations and engagement.

In DPPA’s special political missions in the field, Gender Advisers or Gender Focal Points provide advice and support to the mission’s leadership - the Secretary-General’s Special Envoys and Special Representatives - on ways to promote women’s political participation, make peace processes and prevention efforts more inclusive, and include gender perspectives in the UN’s political work.

In contexts where the UN is supporting a peace process, DPPA and its special political missions (SPMs) work to promote women’s direct participation through advocacy and by providing advice on inclusive mediation strategies. We also organize consultations with civil society and women’s groups and provide advice on effective ways to include women and their views in the process. Furthermore, the Department promotes women’s political participation in elections, for example through advice on Temporary Special Measures, including electoral quotas, during electoral support. To assist mediation actors and Member States in their efforts to make peace processes more inclusive and gender-responsive, DPPA (then DPA) developed two Guidance documents for mediators and mediation experts; one on Addressing Conflict-Related Sexual Violence in Ceasefire and Peace Agreements (2012); and one on Gender and Inclusive Mediation Strategies (2017). 

In 2016, the Department established a stand-alone Gender, Peace and Security Unit (GPS), which oversees the its implementation of the WPS agenda. GPS has the responsibility to develop policy, build the capacity of DPPA staff involved in peacemaking and support DPPA’s mission and headquarters staff in implementing Security Council resolutions on WPS and Conflict-related Sexual Violence. DPPA’s WPS Policy was first issued in June 2019, to ensure that gender relevant issues and perspectives are integrated into all the Department’s activities. The Policy outlines five priorities for the implementation of the WPS agenda:  a) Gender sensitive political and conflict analysis; b) Promoting inclusion and women’s meaningful participation in all peacemaking and peacebuilding efforts; c) Women’s participation in electoral and political processes; d) Preventing and addressing conflict-related sexual violence as a priority for peace; and e) Programmatic – ensuring gender mainstreaming in all projects through resource allocations, gender markers and tracking. Following a review of the previous policy, in 2023, GPS issued a revised DPPA WPS Policy (2023). The new DPPA WPS policy retains the same priority areas, but updates the policy to reflect key developments and new areas of work (i.e., digital technology, climate, peace and security).  

The Department’s approach to implementing the WPS agenda is that in addition to specific focus on WPS and WPS initiatives, gender is mainstreamed throughout DPPA’s work, and that WPS work is not only the responsibility of gender advisers, but the responsibility of every staff member in DPPA and its field presences.

For more information and resources, visit https://peacemaker.un.org/wps

 

Security Council Resolutions

Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) on WPS was backed by a diverse and geographically-representative coalition of Member States, and pushed by a strong global constituency of women civil society organizations.  This was the first Security Council resolution to link women to the peace and security agenda, looking at the impact of conflict on women and women’s contribution to conflict resolution and sustainable peace.

The resolution consists of four pillars: 1) The role of women in conflict prevention, 2) women’s participation in peacebuilding, 3) the protection of the rights of women and girls during and after conflict, and 4) women’s specific needs during repatriation, resettlement and for rehabilitation, reintegration and post-conflict reconstruction. A total of ten WPS resolutions have been adopted, and can be divided into two groups. The first group, initiated by 1325 and followed by SCR 1889 (2009) , SCR 2122 (2013), SCR 2242 (2015)and SCR 24932019), deals in short with the need for women’s active and effective participation in peacemaking and peacebuilding.

The second group focuses on preventing and addressing conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV). The first dedicated resolution on CRSV, SCR  (1820) was adopted in 2008. It acknowledges that sexual violence when used as a tactic of war can significantly exacerbate conflict and be a threat to international peace and security. Since 2008, four additional resolutions have been adopted on CRSV: SCR 1888 (2009)SCR 1960 (2010)SCR 2106 (2013), and SCR 2467 (2019).

 

Why Is Gender and Women Included in the UN Peace and Security Agenda?

There is no internationally agreed definition of the term ‘gender’, however, gender is understood to be a social and cultural construct that assigns different roles, behaviors, norms and traits to men and women in a society. As a social construct, gender varies from society to society and can evolve over time. In most societies, gender is hierarchical and produces political, social and economic inequalities.  When gender intersects with other forms of discrimination such as socioeconomic status, ethnicity, religion, disability, age, geographic location, sexual orientation and gender identity , the impacts can compound and lead to intersectional marginalization and discrimination. Because conflict affects people of different gender identities differently, an intersectional approach to peacemaking is needed to respond to different groups’ security and peacebuilding needs.

Men who predominantly occupy roles in both armed groups and public decision-making, have long been considered the only relevant actors in conflict and its resolution. However, women have always been involved in conflict in different roles, be it as peacemakers, combatants, dependents, politicians or activists, and are greatly –often disproportionally – affected by conflict. Women have a fundamental human right to participate in decision making processes that affect them, but women’s inclusion in peace processes is also a strategic imperative, as adding a broader range of perspectives can lead to more sustainable peace. For these reasons, and to answer to its responsibilities stemming from the human rights agenda, the United Nations is strongly committed to include women in its peace and security work.

 

Links and Resources

DPPA Activities and Guidance:

DPPA Youth, Peace and Security Strategy (2024-2026)

DPPA Women Peace and Security Policy (2023)

DPPA Women Peace and Security Policy (2019)

Opening the Doors to Women's Meaningful Participation (2020). Poster also available.

Guidance on Gender and Inclusive Mediation Strategies (2017)

Guidance for Mediators. Addressing Conflict-Related Sexual Violence in Ceasefire and Peace Agreements (2012)

From Words to Action: The Experience of UN Political Missions in Colombia on Women, Peace, and Security (2020). Available in Spanish here

COVID-19 and Conflict: Advancing Women's Meaningful Participation in Ceasefires and Peace Processes (2020). Available in Arabic French | Russian Spanish.

Women Peace and Security (WPS) & Youth Peace and Security (YPS) Complementarities of the two agendas (2021)

References and General Information:

Anderlini, Sanam Naraghi: Women Building Peace. What They Do, Why It Matters. London 2007.

Research project on Women and the UN Charter by SOAS University London: https://www.soas.ac.uk/cisd/research/women-and-the-un-charter/

Nderitu, Alice/O’Neill Jacqueline: Getting To the Point of Inclusion: Seven Myths Standing in the Way of women Waging Peace. Background Paper for the 2013 Oslo Forum, May 2013. Online: https://www.osloforum.org/sites/default/files/Oslo%20Forum%202013-BP-Getting%20to%20the%20Point%20of%20Inclusion.pdf

The International Peace Institute (IPI): The SDGs and Prevention for Sustaining Peace. Exploring the Transformative Potential of the Goal on Gender Equality. October 2016. Online: https://www.ipinst.org/2016/11/sdgs-goal-gender-equality

Paffenholz, Thania: ‘Results on Women and Gender’ Briefing Paper. Centre on Conflict, Development and Peacebuilding. Geneva: The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies 2015. Online:  http://repository.graduateinstitute.ch/record/292671/files/briefingpaperwomen%20gender.pdf

United States Institute of Peace: Charting a New Course. Thought of Action Kit. Women Preventing Violent Extremism. Washington 2015. Online: https://www.usip.org/sites/default/files/files/Women-Preventing-Violent-Extremism-Charting-New-Course.pdf

Bell, Christine: Women and peace processes, negotiations, and agreements: operational opportunities and challenges. NORF Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Center Policy Brief. March 2013. Online: http://www.peacewomen.org/assets/file/Resources/Government/christine_bell.pdf

For more resources, please visit https://peacemaker.un.org/wps/guidance-material 

CSOs and Partner Organizations:

UN Women: http://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/peace-and-security

United Nations Development Program: http://www.undp.org/

The UN’s Special Representative’s Office on Sexual Violence in Conflict: http://www.un.org/sexualviolenceinconflict/

United Nations Department of Peace Operations (DPO): https://peacekeeping.un.org/en/empowering-women

The International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN): http://www.icanpeacework.org/

The NGO Working Group on Women Peace and Security: http://www.womenpeacesecurity.org/

The Crisis Management Initiative (CMI): http://cmi.fi/

The Peace and Research Institute Oslo (PRIO): https://www.prio.org/