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Women, Peace, and Security

The United States faces a complex global security environment characterized by instability, conflict, record levels of displacement, well-armed non-state actors, and great power competition.

The U.S. Strategy on Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) of 2019 focuses on improving the effectiveness of our foreign policy and assistance efforts across the board by proactively integrating the needs and perspectives of women, and empowering women to meaningfully participate in decision-making processes at all levels on international peace, security, and prosperity.

Through the passage of the Women, Peace, and Security Act  of 2017, the United States became the first country in the world with a comprehensive law on Women, Peace, and Security (WPS). The U.S. Government also released the 2019 U.S. Strategy on Women, Peace, and Security, and the State Department Implementation Plan in 2020, which has strengthened the U.S. priorities of promoting gender equity and equality in in efforts to prevent conflict, promote peace, and countering violent extremism. The Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues is proud to serve as the lead coordinating office for the State Department’s WPS efforts.

The guiding principles for the Department of State’s WPS Implementation Plan are:

  • The Department of State is uniquely positioned to reinforce America’s global leadership in promoting the Women, Peace, and Security agenda through policy, diplomacy, partnership, and modeling transformation.
  • Our priority areas of engagement are partner countries that are currently experiencing armed conflict, violent extremism or gross, systemic abuses of women and girls; emerging from such conflict, violence, or abuse; and most at risk of such conflict, violence, or abuse. Countries with histories of atrocities with severe incidences of sexual violence and/or systemic and widespread discrimination against women are of particular concern.
  • The implementation of the WPS Strategy is inextricably linked with all gender equity and equality efforts across the Department, including women’s economic security, and preventing and responding to gender-based violence.  Therefore, the Department’s implementation of WPS is consistent and informed by related strategies and National Action Plans.

Combating Violent Extremism

Around the world, women are bravely serving on the frontlines to stem the tide of violent extremism – as peacebuilders, community leaders, human rights defenders, and advocates. S/GWI aims to address the adverse impacts of violent extremism, including through policy and programming that support and partner with women and girls to counter, prevent, and recover from violent extremism. While there is no narrative for how women interact with violent extremism around the world, we know that our efforts are more effective and sustainable when we empower women and girls to be leaders in preventing and responding to violent extremism, recognizing that they can be perpetrators, targets, or survivors.

The  2018 U.S. Strategy to Support Women and Girls at Risk from Violent Extremism and Conflict aims to limit the impact of violent extremism and conflict, including the risks to women and girls, by supporting women and girls as agents for in countering terrorist ideology to prevent radicalization in their families, communities, countries, and online. It recognizes the importance of women’s leadership and safety in rebuilding and recovering following violent extremism and conflict, such as by providing services for survivors of violent extremism or conflict-related gender-based violence. This strategy aligns with the U.S. Strategy on Women, Peace, and Security (WPS), which calls for the integration of WPS in other national strategic guidance on peace and security.

S/GWI works to ensure U.S. CVE policies and initiatives recognize that women have complex and varied roles in society and in relation to violent extremism. By supporting women as prevention actors, we can make strides towards addressing the conditions that lead to terrorism and conflict in the first place. Our efforts consider the causes of women and girls’ radicalization to violence, prioritize their safety and access to education, and respect their human rights. Women’s perspectives and participation are necessary for inclusive and comprehensive approaches to address the threat violent extremism poses to our national security and prosperity.


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U.S. Department of State

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