From “Women” to “Peace”Understanding Causal Relations in the Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) Agenda

This project is part of the CIPS Fragile States Research Network

Christoph Züercher

Since the adoption of UNSC Resolution 1325 in October 2000 the “Women, Peace, and Security” (WPS) agenda is a top priority for the United Nations. The WPS agenda is also highly relevant for Canada. It is at the intersection of Canada’s commitment to gender equality, to empowering women and girls and to preventing and responding to conflicts.This project will focus on one important aspect of the WPS agenda: On the causal relations that link the “inclusion/empowerment” of women in the field of peace and security to better outcomes in “peace”.

The objectives of the project are threefold:
(1) to identify the dominant narrative about WPS, specifically politically relevant and frequently made causal claims about the impacts of women’s inclusion on peace. This will be done by analyzing the discourses of major political actors in the field of WPS. 
(2) to establish the evidence base of the identified causal claims by conducting a systematic review of the literature. 
(3) to synthesize the evidence base, resulting in a methodologically solid and transparent overview of the impacts on various WPS interventions on “peace” (that is, on positive outcomes for the identified causal claims, tentatively: operational peacekeeping effectiveness, durable peace, less war, and more effective local peacebuilding).

This synthesis will inform us about which WPS interventions worked (and under what scope conditions) and which did not work. It will also identify the causal claims for which we do have no evidence at all, thus identify gaps in our knowledge.The project is academically innovative and important because it provides the first systematic account of the available evidence of causal impacts of women’s inclusion in WPS on peace (and related outcomes).The project is also highly policy relevant in the Canadian context, since the WPS agenda is central to Canadas foreign policy. Identifying what works, what does not work and what needs more investigation are important contributions to adapting policy frameworks.