Take action with Rotary and the Institute for Economics and Peace to empower women

By Rebecca Pursche, Institute for Economics and Peace (Sydney Office)

Excluding women from peacebuilding affairs is no longer an option.

“We must learn from our past mistakes, or else risk making them again” – Regional Director of the Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa, Hala Al-Karib, during her 13 September 2021 briefing to the Security Council on the Sudan.

In the face of war, hunger, displacement, violent conflict, and extremism, empowered women around the world are courageously leading social movements that contribute to building long-lasting, resilient, and peaceful societies.

There are no ifs or buts when discussing the integral role that women play in peacebuilding; it is more so a question of how.

While significant progress has been made toward fostering women’s participation in peace-building activities, violence against women remains endemic and generational gains made toward advancing women’s rights are under threat. Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right but also a crucial foundation for a peaceful, prosperous, and sustainable world.

Bold action is needed to accelerate progress and promote peace.

While many may fall into the trap of thinking that these goals are too big for the ordinary person to pursue, know that this is not the case.

Rotary International’s strategic partnership with the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) has provided Rotary members and people around the world with the ability to think globally and act locally through the use of IEP’s transformational Positive Peace framework.

This framework emphasizes what we can do to build resilient societies and foster lasting peace.

In 2000, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) formally acknowledged the disproportionate impact that conflict and war have on women and girls, as well as the critical role that women can, and already do, play in peacebuilding efforts with the creation of Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security (WPS).

Peace can be thought about in two ways:

  1. Conventional thinking focuses on the concept of ‘negative peace’, being the absence of violence, or absence of the fear of violence.
  2. Transformational thinking focuses on the concept of ‘Positive Peace’, which IEP defines as the “attitudes, institutions and structures that create the optimal environment for human potential to flourish”.

To avoid repeating past mistakes that have excluded women’s participation in peacebuilding, we must think and act in a transformational way by applying the lens of Positive Peace.

You may be thinking, how can Positive Peace be applied to achieve the goals set out in the WPS agenda? This is how:

UNSCR 1325 (2000) is grounded in four critical pillars which can be mapped to IEP’s eight pillars of Positive Peace:


A ‘Well-Functioning Government’ and ‘Sound Business Environment’ are paramount to facilitating the equal participation of women at all levels of management and decision-making, including within national, regional, and international institutions.


The ‘Acceptance of the Rights of Others’ is a key factor underpinning the protection of women’s and girls’ rights in conflict-affected situations, with the ‘Free Flow of Information’ ensuring that these rights are promoted.


Promoting and maintaining ‘Good Relations with Neighbours’ and ‘Low Levels of Corruption’ serves to prevent conflict and all forms of violence against women and girls in conflict and post-conflict situations.

Relief and Recovery

By ensuring that there is an ‘Equitable Distribution of Resources’, we can meet the specific relief and recovery needs of women and girls. Additionally, having ‘High Levels of Human Capital’ in a society reinforces the capacity of women to act as agents in relief and recovery processes.

Need some inspiration?

  • Check out the creative ways that Melrose Lunn and Sara Khaled have used the 8 pillars to build Positive Peace in their communities!

Want to get involved in promoting Women, [Positive] Peace, and Security?

  • Participate in Rotary’s Positive Peace Academy
  • Join IEP’s Ambassador Program
  • Celebrate International Women’s Day! Join Rotary 8-13 March as we celebrate women’s achievements, raise awareness about the barriers women around the world face at work and beyond, and build a supportive community to take action for equity. And join IEP on 15 March for an inspiring online event (register here) in recognition of International Women’s Day. The event will showcase female IEP Ambassadors and Rotary Positive Peace Activators’ experiences in promoting the WPS agenda in their communities through the Positive Peace framework.

For any queries, please feel free to contact partnerships@economicsandpeace.org or the Rotary-IEP Partnership Coordinator via peace.partners@rotary.org.

Follow IEP, Rotary, and many other pioneers celebrating International Women’s Day on social media using the #iwd2023

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