Strengthening women’s rights

Listen to women for a change bannerAcross the world women face violations of their human rights on a daily basis – when denied the chance to participate in politics and public life to shape the decisions that affect their lives,  when they face violence and suffer discrimination in the workplace and in multiple other forms.

Inequality is a root cause of conflict, and women’s rights are essential in preventing violence. In situations of conflict women and girls are more likely to be the target of sexual violence, especially rape, which is used as a systematic weapon of war. Women bear the brunt of ‘collateral damage’ and are disproportionately affected when primary services collapse.

Globally, gender mainstreaming has undermined women’s rights and women’s organisations. Once implemented, many governments withdrew funding for UNIFEM as it was believed that mainstream bodies would adequately address gender. As a result, UNIFEM is severely underfunded. The UN Secretary General has formed a High-level panel on UN System-wide Coherence in the areas of development, humanitarian assistance and the environment. However, this panel has neglected women’s issues. In response, women’s organisations are banding together to call for a new gender architecture at the UN.

At WILPF we work to hold governments accountable. We aim to ensure that women’s voices are heard in peace building processes and that women participate in decision making. We lobby, in the UK and internationally, for the implementation of international instruments like CEDAW and Security Council Resolution 1325 and to ensure women’s voices are heard at the UN and by the international community.

Focus Areas

Women Peace and Security

Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security was passed in 2000 and it has been supplemented with resolutions 1820 (2009), 1888 (2009) 1998 (2010) and 1960 (2011). These resolutions form an international policy framework on women peace and security, and demonstrate that gender is central to international peace and security. However, accountability, implementation and action on the ground are still lacking.

The UK has an Action Plan for the implementation of 1325 and we work with the Gender Action for Peace and Security (GAPS UK) network and No Women No Peace Campaign to push for stronger implementation, a whole of government approach to women’s rights and participation alongside a recognition that these principles apply within the UK.

WILPF’s peacewomen project monitors the actions of the security council on women, peace and security and is an international hub of information.


CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women) was adopted by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in 1979. CEDAW is often referred to as the Women’s International Bill of Rights. You can find out more about CEDAW on the Women’s Resource Centre (WRC) website.

UK WILPF is working with the WRC on monitoring the UK’s performance in implementing CEDAW with the aim of drawing up a shadow report on its implementation.


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