Decades of data show that when women do better, countries do better. But after twenty years of domestic and international Women, Peace and Security (“WPS”) initiatives, are women doing better? Are governments’ national security measures and outcomes better? How does a lack of women’s participation affect national and international security? What steps can be taken to bridge the gender gaps and improve women’s participation in peace and security initiatives?

Women offer distinctive contributions to making and keeping peace: including women in peace negotiations makes resulting agreements far less likely to fail, and higher levels of gender equality in societies and governments are associated with a lower propensity for conflict, both between and within states. Many countries have taken concrete steps to increase women’s participation in conflict prevention and peace stabilization efforts, but women still make up only a small percentage of national security leadership, cybersecurity experts, and combat forces worldwide. Moreover, women throughout societies continue to suffer disproportionately from the ravages of armed conflict, including as victims of sexual violence.

Twenty years ago, the United Nations Security Council affirmed the importance of women’s participation in preventing and resolving violent conflict and in maintaining stable peace processes when it passed Resolution 1325 and its progeny. In recognition of the Resolution’s impending twentieth anniversary and the numerous follow-on efforts since, this one-day public symposium seeks to introduce participants to WPS initiatives advancing its four pillars and explore how far have we have come towards realizing the Resolution’s goals.

The first of its two panels will address WPS initiatives in the United States, defining the term “WPS” and engaging in a status-check on the implementation and realization of the U.S. National WPS Action Plan, the 2019 U.S. Strategy on Women, Peace, and Security, and recent U.S. WPS legislation. The second panel will address international efforts to further Resolution 1325 goals, reflecting on the core recommendations of the 2015 U.N. Global Study on SCR 1325’s implementation and comparative global progress.

The symposium will conclude with a keynote fireside chat with Michèle Flournoy – a former Under Secretary for Policy at the U.S. Department of Defense and a leader in the U.S. national security space who has worked to promote gender equality and women’s participation in military and civilian national security positions at home and abroad.


This program has been approved for 2.5 ethics CLE credits for Pennsylvania lawyers. CLE credit may be available in other jurisdictions as well. Attendees seeking CLE credit should bring separate payment in the amount of $100.00 ($50.00 public interest/non-profit attorneys) cash or check made payable to The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania.

Watch the webcasts

Introduction by Alexandra A.K. Meise

Panel 1: Status-Check on WPS Initiatives in the United States

Panel 2: WPS Coming of Age: Global Efforts to Advance the Agenda

Keynote: Women Driving Change in National Security presented by Michele Flournoy, Former U.S. Under Secretary of Defense for Policy (2009-2012)