Download chapter

Women’s participation in peace processes results in more durable and stable peace.

Key messages

  • Actors involved in mediation and conflict resolution remain resistant to including women, claiming success is judged on effectiveness, not inclusiveness. Yet the history of traditional peacemaking is littered with examples of failed mediation attempts and broken peace agreements. Conversely, a growing body of evidence shows unequivocally that women’s participation contributes to the conclusion of talks and the implementation and durability of peace agreements.
  • Since the adoption of resolution 1325, there has been a substantial increase in the frequency of gender-responsive language in peace agreements and the number of women, women’s groups and gender experts who serve as official negotiators, mediators, or signatories. Nonetheless, in many contexts, women’s official participation may be temporary, their delegated roles may be more symbolic than substantive, and their capacity to influence may be directly resisted by local cultural norms.
  • The most important effect of women’s engagement in peace processes is not just greater attention to gender-related elements in the deliberations and the text of peace agreements, but a shift in dynamics, a broadening of the issues discussed –increasing the chances of community-buy in and addressing root causes-, and greater pressure on the parties to reach an agreement or go back to the negotiating table when the talks had faltered.
  • The international community neglects ‘track 2’ negotiations at the local or sub-national level, where many women are already brokering peace or shoring up community resilience, while narrowly investing in ‘track 1’ negotiations with political and military elites that are predominantly male, rather than investing in civic voices and supporting ‘track 2’ processes.

Facts and figures

  • Women’s participation increases the probability of a peace agreement lasting at least two years by 20 percent, and by 35 percent the probability of a peace agreement lasting 15 years.
  • Analysis of 40 peace processes since the end of the Cold War shows that, in cases where women were able to exercise a strong influence on the negotiation process, there was a much higher chance that an agreement would be reached than when women’s groups exercised weak or no influence. In cases of strong influence of women an agreement was almost always reached.
  • Peace agreements are 64 percent less likely to fail when civil society representatives participate.
  • In 15 of 16 national dialogues examined, decision-making was left to a small group of male leaders.

Key recommendations

  • All actors involved in official peace processes should make quantifiable, time-sensitive commitments to ensure women's direct and meaningful participation during specific phases of the process, to include women's perspectives and gender-responsive provisions in all meetings, consultations, and agreements, to train all parties on their gender-responsive obligations within their area of expertise, and to acknowledge and provide holistic support for women's groups that are engaged in ‘track 2’ diplomacy efforts.
  • Member states supporting specific peace processes must offer the negotiating parties incentives for women’s participation —training, logistical support, or adding delegate seats for example
  • Support for women’s systematic engagement in peace talks must be included in the terms of reference of every mediator, envoy, and leader of peace mission, and performance in this regard should be regularly reported on in all forums, including the Security Council.
  • Desist from using observer status as a substitute for real and effective participation for women. Women should not be on the sidelines observing, but an integral part of negotiations and decision-making on the future of their country.


  • Include a specific responsibility drafted into the Terms of Reference of every mediator and envoy, every SRSG and Deputy SRSG, to advance women’s engagement in national decision-making processes, and specifically all aspects of conflict resolution, power-sharing, national dialogue and reconciliation.
  • Ensure that UN-appointed mediators and special envoys report on their consultations and outreach to women’s groups in line with Security Council resolution 2122 (2013).
  • Ensure that all actors, mediators, Groups of Friends, and parties to the conflict guarantee that women’s participation in talks is equal and meaningful, and barriers to their participation, whether these exist in law or in practice, are completely eliminated.
  • Desist from any use of observer status as a substitute for real and effective participation. Women should not be on the sidelines observing, but an integral part of negotiations and decision-making on the future of their country.
  • Invest in developing tools that examine the gendered impacts of various outcomes of peace talks, whether they be federalism, constitution making, transitional justice, power sharing, or cease fire provisions.
  • Commit to mediate between women’s organizations and dominant national political leaders to encourage national political actors, including leaders of belligerent parties, to include women in their delegations and to address women’s concerns in their negotiations. Member states in contact groups supporting specific peace processes could offer the negotiating parties various incentives to do this—training, logistical support, or adding delegate seats for example.
  • Commit to include agenda items on women’s participation in meetings with Groups of Friends and other facilitators of national dialogue, including organizing meetings between representatives of national women’s organizations and the Member States making up Groups of Friends.
  • For each process, develop and fund a strategy of long-term support to build the capacity of women’s networks to engage in political dialogue, strengthen the gender awareness of mediators, facilitators and conflict parties, address practical issues that may limit women’s engagement—from granular details such as procedures for circulation of agenda and materials to bigger issues like the use of local languages, and protect women activists from potential backlash.
  • Advocate for and support inclusive and transparent selection criteria for women at negotiations or beyond, including, for example, by ensuring women’s participation in the leadership committees of peace talks, national dialogues, and consultative forums; and creating formal mechanisms to transfer women’s demands to the negotiation table.
  • Support women’s engagement and participation not just in peace talks, but in preventive RECOMMENDATIONS Moving progress beyond 2015: Proposals for action 58 Chapter 3. Women’s Participation 59 diplomacy and the monitoring and implementation of agreements. This should be extended to both the preparatory and implementation phases of peace processes and political transitions, rather than limited to a given round of negotiations or national dialogue.
  • Increase the number of women in their foreign service and national security establishments, and take steps to ensure that women diplomats are engaged in leadership roles in conflict resolution.
  • Assume a specific responsibility to advise all parties to dialogue/peace talks/constitutional reform about the value of temporary special measures to increase the numbers of women on negotiating parties. At the same time, the mediator/envoy’s office must advise national women’s organizations of the range of temporary special measures available and their effectiveness in other contexts.
  • Commit to meet with representatives of a crosssection of women’s organizations within the first 30 days of any deployment, and to follow this with periodic (at least four times a year), scheduled, and minuted meetings. These meetings should be used not only to hear women’s perspectives on conflict resolution, but also to provide women’s groups with information about opportunities to engage in upcoming dialogue, donor conferences, and informal and formal peace processes.
  • Commit to raise, as a matter of course and routine, specific gender issues for inclusion in ceasefires and peace talks, such as the prevention of sexual violence, justice for gender crimes, temporary special measures for women’s political engagement, specific gender quotas in the leadership of post-conflict commissions to implement the peace accord, and genderspecific provisions in administrative and economic recovery arrangements (including women’s land access and property rights). For example, military power sharing should focus not just on merging armies and command structures, but also putting in place rights protections, civilian and democratic accountability, and ensuring women’s representation throughout. Territorial power-sharing should include protection for women’s rights and participation at the sub-national level, with attention paid to the relationship between women’s rights and local customary and traditional laws.
  • Commit to include a gender advisor on the mediation team as well as to include women who are experts in political analysis and other areas covered by the team.
  • Recognize that women’s participation does not mean that they are solely responsible for women’s issues, but that they are allowed to participate and be decision-makers on the full range of issues involved in the peace process.
  • Commit to ensure that technical experts on a mediators’ team are trained on the gender-related aspects of their technical area, and that these technical experts themselves have the relevant technical knowledge on the impact of women’s participation and the skills to support effective inclusion.