The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) announced today that its initiative on gender and peacebuilding is now become a full programmatic center, naming Kathleen Kuehnast as director. Kuehnast, a socio-cultural anthropologist, joined USIP in 2008 following a 15-year career in international development and post-conflict. Her newest book, a co-edited USIP Press volume, "Women and War: Power and Protection in the 21st Century" will be launched in May 2011. Established in October 2009, the Gender and Peacebuilding Initiative has focused on coordinating the gender-related work of USIP.
"Our elevation of this Initiative to a full Center reflects the Institute's commitment to gender awareness in both its analytical and practitioner work on conflict and peacebuilding," noted Tara Sonenshine, executive vice president of USIP. "In its first year, the initiative hosted over 25 gender-related public events with 200 experts, and over 3,500 registrants demonstrating the demand for further understanding about this critical approach in the conflict management and peacebuilding field. The new Center will continue to convene global experts on gender, conflict, and peacebuilding to inform and expand critical understanding about gender impacts, and to contribute to policy change through analytical and practitioner work on gender, conflict, and peacebuilding."
Among the areas of focus in 2011 for the new Center will be the continued support to the U.S. Government's development of a Women, Security and Peace Implementation Plan to make actionable core elements of the U.N. Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325, a landmark framework that addresses the inordinate impact of war on women, as well as women's critical contribution to conflict resolution and sustainable peace. To provide general background about the resolution, the Center has developed a tutorial that includes relevant USIP public presentations and written documents on the women, security and peace agenda.
The Center will continue to take a leadership role in convening various stakeholders in the field, including the U.S. and international governments, civil society, and the military on issues of gender mainstreaming. The Center's gender-related operational work in the coming year will focus on topics such as Afghan and Iraqi women dialogues in peacebuilding; Afghan women parliamentarian leadership capacity building; women and extremism in Iran, Pakistan, and Russia; women and informal markets in North Korea; and women religious leaders and peacemaking.
Recently the program co-hosted "Women and War," a three-day conference commemorating the tenth anniversary of UNSCR 1325 focused on women, peace and security. In addition, last month USIP published the Special Report, “The Role of Women in Global Security," which draws on discussions at the conference co-hosted by the U.S. Embassy in Denmark and the Royal Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In addition to the women, peace and security agenda, the Center has just issued the PeaceBrief, "The Other Side of Gender: Including Masculinity Concerns in Conflict and Peacebuilding." Reflecting on the one-year anniversary of the devastating earthquake in Haiti, the Center issued a report on the problem of increasing sexual violence in the IDP camps.