Women in Peace Process: What is the Research?

The evidence from recent years is that including women’s organizations in peace negotiations is good for peace. Findings include:

Š       When women's organizations were able to effectively influence the process, a peace agreement was almost always reached and the agreement was more likely to be implemented.[1]

Š       When women are included in a peace process, the peace agreement that results is 20 percent more likely to last at least two years. Women’s participation has an even greater impact in the longer term: an agreement is 35 percent more likely to last for fifteen years if women participate in its creation.[2]

Š       In general, women bring a ‘particular quality of consensus building to public debate, not necessarily on issues, but on the need to conclude talks and implement agreements.’ [3]

Š       Issues commonly pushed by women’s organizations and representative of women’s movements in peace processes include:

1)    the cessation of hostilities and agreements on long-term ceasefires, and/or pressure to start new (or continue stalled) peace negotiations;

2)    the signing of peace agreements— women exerted pressure both from within or outside formal negotiations;

3)    enhanced women’s representation in the ongoing peace process, as well as in the political structure of the post-conflict state; and

4)    additional gender-sensitive political and legal reforms (e.g. demanding changes to laws governing land ownership, inheritance, or healthcare), transitional justice issues (e.g. addressing any gender-based violence and human rights violations that occurred during the conflict, or demanding truth and reconciliation commissions), and post-conflict reconstruction concerns (e.g. equal access to disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration programs for women, and/or child soldiers where applicable).[4]


Case Study: Colombia[5]

The peace talks between the Colombian Government and the FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia) was a path breaking example of the inclusion of women.  At the start of the negotiations few women were involved.  After pressure from women’s organizations, both the government and the FARC increased women’s involvement. By 2015 20% of the government’s negotiating team were women and women made up 45% of the FARC’s negotiators (equivalent to the percent of women among FARC fighters).

Women brought new issues to the table, successfully including many provisions in the accord that addressed the rights of women and girls, sexual and gender-based violence, access to land and other issues.

Aside from the official negotiators, the feminist peace movement and women’s organizations were active in building support for the peace process and building public confidence.

Prepared by the Women, Peace and Security Network-Canada



[1]Research carried out at the Graduate Institute's Centre on Conflict, Development and Peacebuilding in Geneva. Publications includes Thania Paffenholz (2015) “Can Inclusive Peace Processes Work? New evidence from a multi-year research project,” CCDP Policy Brief and Thania Paffenholz (2015). “Beyond the Normative: Can Women's Inclusion Really Make for Better Peace Processes?” CCDP Policy Brief, both available here.

[2] Mary O’Reilly, Andrea Ō Sůilleabháin, and Thania Paffenholz. (2015), “Reimagining Peacemaking:  Women’s Roles in Peace Processes,” New York. International Peace Institute.

[3] UN Women (2015). Preventing Conflict, Transforming Justice, Securing Peace: A Global Study on the Implementation of United Nations Security Council resolution 1325. New York, p. 42.

[4] Thania Paffenholz, Nick Ross, Steven Dixon, Anna-Lena Schluchter and Jacqui True (2016) “Making Women Count - Not Just Counting Women: Assessing Women’s Inclusion and Influence on Peace Negotiations,” Geneva: Inclusive Peace and Transition Initiative (The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies) and UN Women.

[5] See the Council on Foreign Relations interactive webpage: Women’s Participation in Peace Processes.