Increasing women’s participation in peace processes is an important goal for the international community, and evidence suggests that more inclusive peace processes involving meaningful contributions by women are more likely to help achieve sustainable peace. Today, women remain largely excluded from formal Track I peace processes, even as they play a major role in informal Track II peace processes.
This brief offers a systematic review of women’s extensive, varied involvement in informal peace processes based on our comprehensive mapping of informal peace processes with women’s involvement. It finds that women advocate for peace in a variety of different ways, even when formal negotiations are closed to them, including meaningful advocacy for a more gender-just post-conflict society. Supporting women in their informal efforts to shape the peace is as important of a goal as advocating for more women at the formal negotiating table. Women who are excluded from formal negotiations have voices that deserve amplification, alternative visions of the peace that warrant consideration, and roles to play in helping societies confront the complex legacies of conflict. Better incorporating women’s Track II initiatives into formal peace processes would offer a more comprehensive and inclusive approach to peacebuilding, fostering local ownership and buy-in for negotiations while elevating the concerns and expertise of those excluded from elite negotiations between warring parties.