Despite the United Nation’s landmark Security Council Resolution on women, peace and security in 2000 which highlighted the importance of women’s participation in peace-building, only one in 40 peace treaty signatories over the last 25 years has been a woman. Yet evidence from non-government organisations and women’s rights organisations shows that women are active agents of peace, resolving conflicts at all levels of society with little or no recognition. This article discusses new research which tracks women’s roles in building peace at local levels in five conflict-affected contexts: Afghanistan, Liberia, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sierra Leone. The article highlights the significance of violence against women as a barrier to peace-building, and explores how and why women’s exclusion and marginalisation from peace processes tends to increase the more formal the processes become. The article uses two case studies of women’s rights organisations in Afghanistan and Nepal to illustrate the research findings and demonstrate how communities can mobilise to promote gender equality and fulfil women’s rights.
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