Civil society stakeholders – especially women – are the largest untapped resources for global stability.
Some policymakers mainly view them as victims of conflict rather than as the powerful contributors to security that they are. Others who want to promote longer-term stability by engaging women in decision making may not know how best to do so.
Women leaders, in turn, must be well prepared to advocate successfully for their own participation and contribute effectively to the process once involved. Supportive networks are essential.
- Providing research that shows the specific benefits of involving women in security discussions to help officials make informed decisions
- Connecting them with the talented leaders in the international Women Waging Peace Network, who are allies and multipliers in the search for sustainable peace
- Recommending best practices for inclusive peacebuilding and offering expert advice
Our research on negotiation models, for example, helped lead to the inclusion of women as observers to negotiations between the Ugandan government and the Lord’s Resistance Army. Research documenting women’s contributions to DDR—disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration of combatants—also shaped women’s inclusion in the final agreement. That inclusion is a vital element in postconflict stability.
Strengthening Women Leaders
- Offering customized training for women already involved in peace processes as well as for outstanding mobilizers who can organize and train others in advocating for women’s inclusion
- Facilitating coalitions of diverse women leaders in specific conflict areas who are committed to working together for their own inclusion
- Connecting them to peers and policymakers around the world to share effective techniques and influence policy. We organize delegations to the US and international conferences, workshops, executive training sessions at Harvard, and similar opportunities
During a workshop nearly a decade ago, Amb. Swanee Hunt, our chair, asked committed Colombian peace activist Alma Viviana Perez what role she’d like to play in her country’s future. Dr. Perez answered modestly that she wanted to further respect for human rights. Today, she says that working with Inclusive Security staff and members of the Women Waging Peace Network gave her a broader vision and the skills and contacts she needed to realize her goals. In January 2012, she was sworn in as director of the National Program for Human Rights in the office of Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.
Building the Field
- Forming partnerships with groups such as the Council on Foreign Relations to extend our work.
- Communicating our knowledge to others at the nexus of conflict, prevention, and stabilization, such as NATO and the International Crisis Group.
- Making our growing research library of seminal case studies and video interviews a hub for information exchange among organizations and academic institutions, such as Georgetown University. Documents from our site have been downloaded more than 5,000 times in the past two years.
- Collaborating with the UN and the State Dept., among others, to coordinate sustainable efforts and avoid duplication.
Filmmaker Abigail Disney made two trips to Liberia with Inclusive Security’s leaders. Inspired by the courage of Liberian women and their determination to overcome the violence claiming so many lives, she produced the award-winning documentary Pray the Devil Back to Hell to tell their story, as part of the five-hour PBS television series Women, War and Peace.