Facts and figures: Women, peace, and security

Women’s meaningful participation in negotiating peace

  • In 2022, women participated as conflict party negotiators or delegates in four of five active United Nations–led or –co-led peace processes. Women’s representation stood only at 16 per cent, a further drop compared to 19 per cent in 2021 and 23 per cent in 2020 [1].
  • Trend data since 1990 show that seldom are representatives of women’s groups found as signatories of peace agreements. Of 18 peace agreements reached in 2022, only one was signed or witnessed by a representative of a women’s group or organization.
  • In 2022, 6 out of 18 peace agreements reached (33 per cent) included provisions referencing women, girls, and gender. This is a proportion similar to recent years, with agreements with gender references plateauing between 20 to 35 per cent each year [2].
  • In the negotiations between the government of Colombia and the National Liberation Army (ELN), women participate as negotiators on both delegations reaching near parity. In contrast, in the 2022 negotiations between the Ethiopian government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, neither party included women in their negotiating team, although a woman served as mediator in the talks that led to the peace agreement in November 2022. Similarly, women did not participate in the EU-facilitated Belgrade-Pristina dialogue process in 2022, nor the negotiation or subsequent review of the Five-Point Consensus on Myanmar [3].
  • In 2022, in Yemen, the conflict parties continued to reject women’s participation despite consistent advocacy by the United Nations Special Envoy, who encouraged at least 30 per cent women in delegations and additional and non-transferrable seats for women [4].
  • Since 2022, the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund (WPHF) doubled the number of organizations supported through its Rapid Response Window for women’s participation in peace processes and the implementation of peace agreements. As of August 2023, more than 100 civil society organizations in 22 countries have received targeted and flexible support to elevate their work for peace, de-escalate violence, and address the barriers to women’s participation in peace processes [5].

Women’s leadership and political participation

  • As of July 2023, women were Heads of State and Government in 27 countries worldwide [6].
  • As of January 2023, the global share of women in national parliaments has reached 26.5 per cent, whereas the share in conflict-affected countries [7] remains lower at 23 per cent [8].
  • As of January 2023, women account for 23 per cent of cabinet ministers globally and 20 per cent in conflict-affected countries. Nine countries in the world have no women minsters [9].
  • In 2022, women’s representation in local government was higher than at the national level, with women holding 35.5 per cent of elected seats in local deliberative bodies worldwide and 24.5 per cent in conflict affected countries [10].
  • In conflict-affected countries where legislated gender quotas are in place, the proportion of women legislators was 27 per cent in 2022. Without quotas, women make up only 17 per cent of parliamentarians [11].
  • In 2022, in conflict-affected countries with legislated gender quotas, women held 29 per cent of seats in elected local government, compared to 16 per cent without [12].
  • Globally, 13 per cent of ministers of defence are women [13].

Protecting human rights, rule of law, and women’s access to justice

  • Between May 2021 and April 2022, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) documented incidents of reprisals and intimidation against 172 women, girls, women human rights defenders, and civil society organizations working in the field of human rights for their cooperation with the United Nations [14].
  • The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) verified the killings of 34 women human rights defenders in conflict-affected countries in 2022, but this is likely only a fraction of real cases [15].
  • Data from the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED) show that, in 2022, women and girls were the main targets in more than 3,200 political violence events worldwide [16], and more than half took place in conflict-affected countries, where events of political violence targeting women has increased by 1.5 times between 2020 and 2022 [17].
  • The United Nations verified 2,455 reported cases of conflict-related sexual violence in 2022 [18], with the highest numbers recorded in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. These numbers are an undercount, as many cases go unreported or cannot be verified [19].
  • In 2021, 43 per cent of professional judges or magistrates in criminal justice institutions were women, increased from 34 per cent in 2010 [20].
  • In transitional justice processes, in 2022, women represented 55 per cent of magistrates in the Special Jurisdiction for Peace in Colombia, and 20 per cent and 36 per cent of commissioners on truth commissions in Mali and Colombia, respectively [21].
  • In 2022, 22 out of 52 conflict-affected countries (42 per cent) undertook reforms towards effective, accessible, and gender-responsive criminal justice systems, often with support from the United Nations [22].
  • Among 44 conflict-affected countries with data, 33 had national human rights institutions fully or partially compliant with the Paris Principles [23].

Disarmament, arms control, and military spending

  • World military expenditure increased in 2022 for the eighth consecutive year, reaching an all-time high of USD 2.24 trillion, a 3.7 per cent increase from the previous year [24].
  • Of the 66 disarmament resolutions adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2022, 20 included references to gender and only one to diversity [25].
  • In most multilateral forums on non-proliferation and disarmament, women represented about one third of delegates, and their representation drops further among heads of delegation [26].
  • The United Nations’ new framework for preventing conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) identified arms control and disarmament as priority area for action in prevention efforts [27]. A recent report by the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research noted that, where reporting on weapons is available, 70 to 90 per cent of CRSV incidents involve a weapon, in particular firearms [28].

National and regional strategies for advancing women’s peace and security

  • As of July 2023, 107 countries and territories had adopted National Action Plans (NAPs) [29]. Among the 107 NAPs:
    • 92 NAPs (86 per cent) include monitoring frameworks with indicators;
    • 27 NAPs (26 per cent) included a budget at the time they were launched;
    • 47 NAPs (44 per cent) include explicit reference to peace negotiations and mediation;
    • 43 NAPs (40 per cent) include references to climate change; and
    • 33 NAPs (31 per cent) include direct references to arms control, ammunition management, and/or disarmament in monitoring frameworks.
  • As of July 2023, 13 regional and sub-regional organizations have action plans and strategies to elevate the implementation of women, peace, and security and monitoring with member countries [30]. Among the 13 regional and sub-regional action plans and strategies:
    • nine of them (69 per cent) make direct reference to increasing women’s representation in peace negotiations and mediation, and
    • six of them (46 per cent) include references to climate change.
  • As of August 2023, 13 countries from Europe, the Americas, and Africa have committed to apply a feminist lens to their foreign policy [31].
  • The Women, Peace and Security Focal Points Network for Member States and regional organizations has grown to 100 members by July 2023 [32].
  • The multistakeholder Compact on Women, Peace and Security and Humanitarian Action had reached 204 signatories by July 2023 and is tracking more than 1,200 advocacy, financing, policy, and programmatic actions in 156 countries and territories [33].
  • As of July 2023, 70 per cent of Signatories (144 out of 204) of the Compact on Women, Peace and Security and Humanitarian Action are implementing specific actions to strengthen women’s meaningful participation in peace processes [34].

Women’s leadership and representation in the United Nations

  • While gender parity was nearly achieved when the representation of women among Heads and Deputy Heads of Mission reached 48 per cent in June 2021, by July 2023 the share had decreased to 39 per cent, with more women in Deputy positions [35].
  • Among uniformed personnel, the United Nations Department of Peace Operations recorded its third year in a row meeting or exceeding the targets set out in the 2018–2028 Uniformed Gender Parity Strategy for all categories, except military contingents [36].
  • Troops are the bulk of the personnel deployed to peacekeeping operations, and women’s representation is still very low, accounting for 6.5 per cent of military contingents as of April 2023 [37].
  • As of August 2023, 6 out of 14 personnel appointed as heads or deputy heads of police components were women [38].

Gender expertise in United Nations field operations, peacebuilding, and humanitarian aid

  • Across 20 special political missions, there are 31 full-time gender advisors. Six special political missions had senior gender adviser (P-5) throughout 2022 [39], one less than in 2021. The four special political missions that did not have any gender advisors, women protection advisors, or human rights advisors were supported through gender focal points [40].
  • Among the 12 peacekeeping missions, 8 had gender units, with a total of 44 gender advisers or gender affairs officers, 14 police gender advisors, and 33 appointed military gender advisors. Four larger multidimensional missions were headed by senior gender advisers (P-5 level) in 2022 [41].
  • Through its regional and country presence, UN Women has supported the implementation of women, peace, and security initiatives in about 70 countries and contributed to gender-responsive conflict analysis and rapid gender assessments in conflict and humanitarian settings [42].
  • In its new role as member of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), UN Women leads the update of its Gender Policy. In 2022, UN Women supported 1,328 local women’s organizations to participate meaningfully in humanitarian planning processes, improve gender-equitable outcomes, and increase access to critical humanitarian services among crisis-affected women and girls [43].
  • In 2022, 58 per cent of meetings of the Peacebuilding Commission were informed by briefings from women peacebuilders, increased from 52 per cent in 2021 [44].
  • In 2022, all country eligibility packages of the Peacebuilding Fund were based on gender-responsive conflict analysis [45].
  • The revised United Nations Policy on Integrated Assessment and Planning requires that dedicated gender expertise be engaged in all mechanisms and at all stages of assessments. For instance, 85 per cent of Humanitarian Needs Overviews (HNOs) included such analysis in 2021, compared to 55 per cent in 2020 [46].

UN Security Council’s work on women, peace and security

  • Since 2000, the UN Security Council has adopted a total of ten dedicated resolutions on women, peace, and security: resolutions 1325 (2000)1820 (2008),1888 (2009)1889 (2009)1960 (2010)2106 (2013)2122 (2013)2242 (2015)2467 (2019), and 2493 (2019) [47].
  • In 2022, a majority of the countries holding the monthly rotating presidency of the Security Council signed a declaration of shared commitments on women, peace, and security, an initiative that has been joined by sixteen different Council Members since September 2021. This contributed to increased visibility of the women, peace, and security agenda, reflected in the five open debates held on this agenda item in 2022 [48].
  • In 2022, women represented 46 per cent of the briefers invited to speak to the Security Council under rule 39 of the Provisional Rules of Procedure, compared to 19 per cent on average between 2013 and 2017 [49].
  • The proportion of decisions of the Security Council that included references to women or gender equality dropped to 62.3 per cent in 2022, compared to 69 per cent in 2021 [50].

Gender and climate security

  • In a significant milestone, the Security Council acknowledged the climate, peace, and security nexus in the mandate of the United Nations Missions in South Sudan for the first time, explicitly urging the incorporation of “gender-sensitive risk assessment on the negative impacts of climate change” [51].
  • The thematic review on Climate-Security and Peacebuilding commissioned by the Peacebuilding Support Office highlights the importance of prioritizing gender-responsive approaches in future investments for climate security and peacebuilding [52].
  • As per the thematic review, in 2021, 19 out of 43 climate security projects had a central or strong focus on women and girls. An additional nine projects had at least significant subcomponents or elements focused on women or girls [53].
  • A UN Women climate finance study recommends a more detailed method for designing gender-specific indicators and gender tagging systems in climate mitigation and adaptation finance projects [54].

Financing the women, peace, and security agenda

  • Bilateral aid to conflict-affected contexts, stood at USD 48.7 billion in 2021 [55]. Of this, USD 20.4 billion (43 per cent) was committed to support gender equality. Only USD 2.6 billion (6 per cent) was dedicated to gender equality as a principal objective, indicating that progress had plateaued despite calls for moving towards and exceeding targets such as the United Nations minimum 15 per cent [56].
  • Bilateral aid supporting feminist, women-led, and women’s rights organizations and movements in fragile and conflict-affected countries remained at a low level of USD 148 million (0.3 per cent of bilateral aid) in 2021, decreased from USD 176 million in 2020 [57].
  • In 2022, the Peacebuilding Fund approved a record USD 231 million in support for peacebuilding initiatives in 37 countries, of which 47 per cent (USD 108.5 million) supported gender equality. While plateauing, this continued to exceed both the Fund’s 15 per cent and 30 per cent financing targets for gender equality [58].
  • Recognizing the importance of allocating the requisite funds for gender equality, the Finance and Budget Network of the United Nations High-level Committee on Management adopted the gender equality marker standard in November 2022. This introduces a common methodology and format for tracking the contribution of United Nations activities to gender equality and women’s empowerment [59].
  • In 2022, four UN entities (ESCWA, UNAIDS, UNICEF, and UNOCT) established a 15 per cent minimum financial target dedicated for gender equality, while others maintained tailored targets. For instance, DPPA continued to exceed its minimum 17 per cent target applied to its Multi-Year Appeals (MYA) Projects. In 2022, 25 UN Country Teams (UNCTs) with a Joint Work Plan allocated 15 per cent or more of the UNCT annual funding framework available resources to activities with gender equality as a principal objective [60].
  • All the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and Country-based pooled funds (CBPF) funding proposals required a gender analysis and sex and age disaggregated data and utilization of the IASC Gender with Age Marker (GAM). In 2022, the CERF allocated a record USD 555 million (76 per cent) for projects aimed at contributing to gender equality. CBPFs allocated USD 1,158 million (95.5 per cent) for projects with strong gender mainstreaming components, covering 20 country operations [61].
  • Since its establishment in 2016, the United Nations Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund (WPHF) has supported more than 1,000 local women’s civil society organizations in 46 crisis- and conflict-affected countries, including 98 organizations with critical institutional funding to safeguard their existence, strengthen their capacities, and adapt to evolving challenges [62].