Women’s History Month: 5 Ways You Can Make a Difference this March

Tue, Mar 27, 2012

Women and Children


March is Women’s History Month, so there will be lots of events and celebrations celebrating women. There are so many inspiring stories of great work, often against overwhelming odds, to break down barriers to women’s full participation in society, whether those barriers were created by social and cultural norms, laws or just plain criminal behavior. The people behind these heroic acts are showcased at events like the U.S. State Department’s Women of Courage event, the Newsweek/Daily Beast Women of the World Summit, and lunches held by the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute.

But besides being inspired, we should all commit to taking action to support and promote all of this work. Here are my thoughts about five things each of us can do to support women this month:

1) Ask questions and understand the issues: It’s important to understand as much as you can about the issues raised by these stories. We are more effective advocates and champions when we know as much as we can about the facts in a certain situation, the laws (or lack thereof) that lead to, for example, unequal access to capital and credit for women, to forced and/or child marriage or to low rates of political participation. Find groups that can help you both learn about the issues and sort through the various groups that work on issues you care about. Sign up for email alerts/notifications on the issues most important to you. This keeps you in the loop and ready to act when your cause needs you most. Again, choose alerts wisely and only those that are closest to your key areas of concern.

2) Think globally but focus on what is important to you: There are lots of problems and lots of solutions — they range from supporting legal reform to providing social services. It’s easy to want to respond to every issue and every project, but it is critical to have your own strategy. Figure out what is important you in terms of issues and also how those issues are addressed. I have two or three issues that I prioritize: advancing the role women in politics and decision making here and abroad, combating human trafficking and corporate social responsibility. When I look at an organization or cause, I think about whether it fits into my categories. Sometimes I support a project that falls outside those issues and that’s fine, but I do have a focus and it helps keep my support, financial or otherwise, focused.

3) Give money: This is very basic, but again, giving should reflect your priorities. Give to groups you know, so that you have a sense of how your money is being used and make sure it reflects your priorities. If you care about fighting human trafficking, decide whether victim services or legal reform is higher on your priority list and give accordingly. Also, think about how you leverage your giving so that you can be part of working on that issue with the advocates and champions that you think make a difference.

4) Take action at home: Figure out if your government does anything to either support the work you care about or stays out of the fray. Let your members of Congress know if you support what the government is doing, or if you don’t. Your voice maters and can make a difference.

5) Repeat Often! Take these actions repeatedly.

There are 10 days left in March — what will you commit to do to support the types of change makers you care about? Let me know what you decide to do; I’d love to know.


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Women, Peace and Security – UN Security Council Resolution 1325

Women, Peace and Security 


UN Security Council Resolution 1325 was the first of its kind to specifically address the unique impact of conflict on women, and women’s important contributions to conflict resolution and sustainable peace. Passed in 2000, it marked a watershed moment when the international community formally recognized the integral role of women and gender to peace and security. UNSCR 1325 has remained an essential tool for encouraging governments to fulfill their obligations to ensure women are included as agents for peace and security in all processes, and its framework has inspired further action by the UN and civil societies and governments around the world to mainstream gender into their work on conflict resolution.


Following UNSCR 1325, subsequent Security Council Resolutions further defined the importance of women’s roles in conflict and peacebuilding. Resolutions 1820, passed in 2008, and 1888, passed in 2009,  recognize sexual violence as an issue of international peace and security and reiterate the need for a comprehensive response to sexual and gender-based violence. In 2010, Resolution 1960 created specific steps needed for the prevention of sexual violence, and Resolution 2106 in 2013 looked specifically at accountability for crimes of sexual violence. The most recent resolution on women, peace and security, UNSCR 2122, aims to strengthen measures to improve the participation of women in all phases of conflict resolution and prevention.


UNSCR 1325 and successive Resolutions are an important show of international support that ensure women, peace and security are on the agenda for international organizations and governments across the globe, but there are many steps between the passage of such resolutions and their full implementation on the ground.  One tool that helps bridge this gap are National Action Plans(NAPs), written plans that specify how a country will mainstream gender, and the principles of 1325 into its defense, development and diplomatic activities. Over 36 countries in the world have drafted NAPs, and that number is growing every year.


In addition to government- and UN-level documents and programs, it is important to consider the work women do in more informal, Track II diplomatic and peace negotiations. Around the world, women are active as civil society leaders, and in many cases, such as Liberia, Northern Ireland and the Philippines, their grassroots work has played a major role in peace processes.


For more resources on women, peace and security, visit The Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and SecurityPeaceWomenUSIP, and The Institute for Inclusive Security.

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