Empowering Women in Crisis and Conflict

Girl Draws Water
Girl draws water - Refugees from Somalia who fled to a camp in northeast Kenya. So many are arriving that the official grounds of the camp cannot hold them all, so they are setting up tents or makeshift domed shelters in what are called the "outskirts."
Laura Sheahen/Catholic Relief Services

In major peace processes since 1992, women have constituted fewer than three percent of mediators and eight percent of negotiators.

These numbers haven’t improved significantly since the adoption of the landmark UN Security Council Resolution 1325 recognizing the central role of women in conflict prevention, peace building, and post-conflict reconstruction.   

We know that when women are engaged as meaningful participants at the negotiating table, they enlarge the scope of agreements and focus attention on the broader set of critical societal priorities required to achieve just and sustainable peace. 

In countries in conflict, sexual and gender-based violence can be used as weapons of war. And following crises such as natural disasters, many women and girls face increased risks of harm, exploitation, and abuse due to:

  • Breakdowns in the rule of law.
  • Disruptions in family structures and livelihoods.
  • Inadequate attention to their distinct needs as part of relief and recovery efforts.  

USAID is committed to empowering and protecting women and girls in situations of crisis and conflict, key to achieving our broader development and humanitarian objectives. 

Recognizing  that countries are more peaceful and prosperous when women are accorded full and equal rights and opportunity, President Obama released the first-ever U.S. National Action Plan (NAP) on Women, Peace, and Security [PDF] in December, 2011.

The NAP charts a roadmap for how the United States will ensure that women’s perspectives and considerations of gender are woven into peace processes, conflict prevention, post conflict reconstruction, the protection of civilians, and humanitarian assistance.

USAID supports key NAP objectives by promoting women's participation in peace and political processes and women’s safety and security in situations of crisis and conflict.  We also build staff capacity and accountability for integrating gender throughout our work in these environments.

USAID with other U.S. Government agencies is developing a detailed implementation plan to realize our development and humanitarian commitments under the NAP, including meaningful strategies for measuring progress and learning from our efforts.

USAID’s work in crisis, conflict-affected, and fragile states will:

  • Promote women’s participation in peace processes and decision-making, including countries experiencing a significant political transition.
  • Strengthen the prevention of and response to gender-based violence and trafficking in persons.
  • Engage women in conflict prevention, disaster risk reduction, and early recovery.
  • Support relief and recovery efforts that address the distinct needs and priorities of males and females and promote safe, equitable access to humanitarian assistance.

Last updated: December 13, 2013

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