Women, Peace and Security Agenda Highlights Importance of Inclusion in Conflict Prevention

Politically Speaking
Politically Speaking
4 min readMar 8, 2024


Women’s participation, protection and rights are critical for sustainable peace. The Agenda has gained traction since its inception, but major challenges remain.

A woman crafts a mosaic depicting a peace dove in the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan. Photo credit: UN Women/Christopher Herwig

“We know that women not only have the right to participate meaningfully in efforts to achieve peace, but also that peace is more easily reached and lasts longer when women are at the table” — Under-Secretary-General Rosemary DiCarlo

Enshrined in Security Council Resolution 1325, which was adopted unanimously in 2000, the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda recognizes the vital role of women in conflict prevention, peacemaking, peacebuilding, and post-conflict reconstruction. It was the first resolution to acknowledge that armed conflicts impact women and girls differently from men and boys. It sets out the importance of the role of women in conflict prevention; women’s participation in peacemaking and peacebuilding; the protection of women’s rights during and after conflict; and women’s specific needs during post-conflict reconstruction.

“The WPS Agenda put women and girls on the map in discussions about peace and security,” said Asif Khan, Director of DPPA’s Policy and Mediation Division. “It has changed what we mean by peace and security, to make it work better for all of us.”

The United Nations has made significant strides to integrate its principles into various special political missions, peacekeeping operations, mediation efforts, and humanitarian initiatives worldwide. Since 2000, the percentage of Security Council decisions with references to WPS increased, reaching the highest point in 2017, when 76% of resolutions and presidential statements included WPS keywords. Moreover, so far, since 2021, a total of 20 Security Council members have committed to prioritizing WPS in their presidencies.

The WPS agenda has also drawn in more funds through the Peacebuilding Fund over the last decade. In 2022, 20% of the total budget went to projects with gender equality and women’s empowerment as a main objective, compared to 9.5% in 2015. The share of allocations for activities contributing to gender equality and women’s empowerment has also grown from 16% in 2015 to 47% in 2022.

The number of National Action Plans on Women, Peace and Security has also risen from 19 in 2010 to 107 in 2023. In 2023, there were also 13 regional and sub-regional organizations with WPS action plans and strategies. 69% of these plans make direct reference to increasing women’s participation in peace negotiations and mediation.

The share of women negotiators or delegates in peace processes led or co-led by the United Nations has gone from an estimated 7.5% in 2011 to a record high of 23% in 2020. However, the positive trend has reversed in the last couple of years, with the share dropping to 16% in 2022.

The Secretary-General’s policy brief “A New Agenda for Peace” also draws from the WPS Agenda. Noting the “backlash against women’s rights,” it calls for action to transform gendered power dynamics in peace and security [Action 5] and notes that we must dismantle the patriarchy and oppressive power structures which stand in the way of progress on gender equality or women’s full, equal and meaningful participation in political and public life.

The Security Council has adopted a total of 10 resolutions on WPS. Five of the resolutions have a specific focus on promoting women’s participation in peacemaking and peacebuilding: S/RES/1325 (2000), S/RES/1889 (2013), S/RES/ 2122 (2013), S/RES/2242 (2015) and S/RES/2493 (2019). The other five aim to prevent and address conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV), which can be used as a tactic of war: S/RES/1820 (2008), S/RES/1888 (2009), S/RES/1960 (2010), S/RES/2106 (2013), and S/RES/2467 (2019).

Despite significant progress, challenges persist in fully realizing the objectives of the WPS Agenda. Implementation gaps, insufficient funding, and a lack of political will remain formidable obstacles to overcome. The COVID-19 pandemic, for example, exacerbated existing inequalities and disproportionately affected women and girls, highlighting the urgency of prioritizing their rights and well-being in all peace and security efforts.

Above all, a central tenet of the WPS Agenda is the recognition that women are not just victims of conflict. They are agents of change.




Politically Speaking
Politically Speaking

The online magazine of the United Nations Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs