Involving Women in Peace & Security Decision Making

How are women impacted by war?  Why should they be involved in peace and security decision-making? What roles should they play?

  • Approximately 1 hour per discussion (up to 2 hours)
relevant sections of “a global security system: an alternative to war”
  • Examine the impacts of patriarchy as a mindset and form of social organization on peace, security, and political decision-making
  • Become familiar with feminist perspectives on war, peace, and security
  • Explore the relationship between gender equality and peace
  • Identify strategies and approaches for including women in peace and security decision making and peacebuilding planning efforts
introducing study and action partner: Mavic Cabrera-balleza

Study and Action Partner Ma. Victoria “Mavic” Cabrera-Balleza is the Founder and International Coordinator of the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP). Mavic initiated the Philippine national action planning process on the UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 on Women, Peace and Security (WPS). She also served as the international consultant to Nepal’s National Action Plan; has provided technical support in 1325 national action planning in Guatemala, Japan and South Sudan; and facilitated costing and budgeting workshops of 1325 national action plans in Georgia and Jordan. She pioneered the Localization of UNSCR 1325 and 1820 program that is regarded as a best practice example and is now implemented in 11 countries.  You can read Mavic’s complete bio here.

Discussion Guides

Two discussion topics/guides are presented below. Each discussion should take approximately 1 hour. You are invited to do both and follow any sequence relevant to your purposes. If you are to choose one discussion we strongly encourage you to start with “Discussion 1 (Essential).”

Discussion 1 (Essential): Including Women in Peace & Security Decision Making

In preparation for this discussion watch the featured video (above), read the corresponding sections of AGSS, and review the additional resources provided below.  (Total 60 min)

The role of women in peace and security has not been given appropriate attention. Take, for example, treaties and peace agreements that are most commonly negotiated and signed in a male-dominated context, by state and non-state armed actors. This context utterly misses the reality on the ground.  Women share a vision of societies rooted in social justice, equality and everyday experience; are disproportionately impacted by war; are an important source of practical experience about life in a war zone; and typically better understand on-the-ground realities.  When women are excluded from peace processes, the experiences, knowledge, and needs of half of the population are lost before a  community or country’s efforts to rebuild have even begun.

“Gender inequality is one of the drivers of conflict. And unless, and until that is fully and adequately addressed, all our efforts in peacebuilding, in peacemaking, and peacekeeping, will be ineffective” – Mavic Cabrera-Balleza

  • It what ways are women uniquely victimized in war and violent conflict?
  • How is gender inequality a driver of conflict?
  • Why are women’s voices essential to peace and security decision making?
  • UN Security Council Resolution 1325 calls for meaningful participation of women in all matters of peace and security decision making.  How is UNSCR 1325 being effectively implemented so it actually makes a difference in the daily lives of women?  Explore some of the examples shared by Mavic Cabrera-Balleza.
  • World BEYOND War advocates for a gender-sensitive approach to our thinking and acting on peace and security through the strategies listed below.  In addition to full implementation of UNSCR 1325, how might we effectively realize these strategies?

Strategies to pursue in achieving a gender-sensitive approach to peace and security:

    • Making women visible as agents of change in preventing war and building peace
    • Removing male bias in war prevention and peacebuilding data collection and research
    • Rethinking drivers of war and peace to take gender into account
    • Incorporating and mainstreaming gender into policy-making and practice
Additional Resources

Discussion 2 (Going Deeper): Patriarchy & Military Violence Against Women

In preparation for this discussion read the corresponding sections of AGSS, watch excerpts of the video below featuring Ray Acheson, and review the readings found under additional resources.

Violence against women is and always has been integral to war and all armed conflict. It pervades all forms of militarism.  It is not a random aberration.  The linkages are so strong that peace educator Betty Reardon argues it is likely to endure so long as the institution of war is a legally sanctioned instrument of state; so long as arms are the means to political, economic or ideological ends.  A masculine bias exists in peace and security decision-making that limits diverse perspectives and narrows the repertoire of conflict resolution strategies that might be used.  Reardon further argues that the present system of militarized state security is an ever-present threat to the human security of women. This very real security threat will continue so long as states claim the right to engage in armed conflict as a means to the ends of the state; and so long as women are without adequate political power to assure their human rights.  Their concerns – the impacts war has upon them – is not discussed.  The following questions explore the endemic nature of patriarchy within the war system and the accompanying violence perpetuated against women.

“Feminism chooses life.” -Betty Reardon, “Sexism and the War System”

Ray acheson: feminism & Nuclear weapons

Watch this 2018 speech by Ray Acheson.   (You are encouraged to watch the entire video, but please watch her speech from 8:30 – 25:00).

Ray Acheson is the Director of Reaching Critical Will, the disarmament programme of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), the oldest women’s peace organization in the world. She provides analysis, research, and advocacy across a range of disarmament and arms control issues. Ray leads WILPF’s work on stigmatizing war and violence, including by campaigning for a nuclear weapon ban treaty and challenging the arms trade and the use of explosive weapons and armed drones.


  • How are the “Perils of Patriarchy” being challenged?
  • Do any of the forms of violence described in the Statement on Military Violence Against Women surprise you? Why or why not?
  • Military violence comprises those harms committed by military personnel that are not a necessity of combat, but none-the-less an integral part of it. What strategies or measures listed in the Statement on Military Violence Against Women do you think are most necessary? What can you work on?
  • According to Ray Acheson, how is militarized masculinity an impediment to disarmament, peace, and gender equality?  In what ways is nuclear deterrence is a product of patriarchy?
  • Acheson focuses on the “gendered” nuclear discourse. As feminists have sensitized many to sexist language, how might we do the same with militarist language and the sexist-militarist language that conditions discussion of arms and security policy?
  • “Realist” thinking was much at play in the opposition to the nuclear treaty. In what ways can feminist [and other] human security activists engage with realists?
  • What similarities might be discerned between deterrence policy and gender violence as a means of maintaining militarized patriarchy?
Additional Resources
  • Read the Statement on Military Violence Against Women. In 2013, Betty Reardon, representing the International Institute on Peace Education (IIPE) at the United Nations, prepared this statement to raise awareness of the integral relationship between violence against women and the institution of war.  The statement was intended as a taxonomy of forms of violence against women, which are far more than rape.  This taxonomy is still incomplete, but represents one of the most comprehensive developed to date.
  • Read A Feminist Critique of the Atomic Bomb by Ray Acheson, Director of Reaching Critical Will
  • See also Discussion 2 on Demilitarization and Disarmament for an analysis of gendered security impacts associated with military bases and the impacts of militarism on women in general.
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