The Women’s Alliance for Security Leadership (WASL) brings together existing women rights and peace practitioners, organizations, and networks actively engaged in preventing extremism and promoting peace, rights and pluralism, to enable their systematic and strategic collaboration.
‘Wasl’ means to ‘connect’ in Arabic, Urdu and Persian.
Our Core Values
- Nonviolence and active support of positive inclusive peace;
- Pluralism, social cohesion, equality, and non-discrimination;
- Social, political, and economic justice;
- Adherence to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
- Transforming gendered power relations to realize equality and rights;
- Amplifying community voices and building a progressive majority;
- Building on the history and legacy of women’s activism and leadership;
- Mutual empowerment, support, and respect for others’ experiences and avoiding duplication of work.
“Women’s rights activists are the longest-standing socially-rooted, transnational groups mobilizing for peace, countering rising extremism, and providing an alternative vision for the future.”
— WASL founding statement
We cultivate vertical, horizontal and diagonal connections
- Facilitate access for national and grassroots women-led organizations to engage substantively in the international countering violent extremism (CVE) debate by collating their perspectives on critical issues (e.g. security, economics, education) and publishing policy papers. This includes information sharing and analyses from the ground to increase knowledge of the gender dimensions of violent extremism with a focus on solutions to root causes and contributions to preventative action.
- Link women’s networks, practitioners, and organizations more effectively to governmental processes, enabling them to share lessons learned and shape state and multilateral policies and programs based on ground realities and needs.
- Develop shared, conceptually-sound solutions to challenges the security-oriented approaches and narratives of existing CVE policies and programs.
- Avoid duplication of efforts and provide a means of coordination and mutual development and support based on a division of labor and core strengths among INGOs, government, and multilateral organizations.
- Provide opportunities to enable the sharing of strategies and lessons learned across countries between grassroots, national civil society actors, and regional and international activists/organizations facing similar manifestations of extremism, including “know-how” and good practices for scaling up successful and promising initiatives.
- Ensure allocation of resources to support innovative solutions locally and internationally in a range of spheres — notably practical community-based work, messaging and communications, production of knowledge, etc.
- Connect existing women-led organizations and resource persons working on extremism and promoting peace to deepen solidarity and strengthen their impact.
- Initiate country-focused public surveys and other efforts to tap into the aspirations of potentially vulnerable populations and use that data to articulate a coherent and realistic alternative vision with attention to improvements in education, justice, economic, and other human security policies.
- Include and reach out to other sectors – notably arts and culture, journalism, religious communities, the private sector, and governmental agencies to echo and amplify the voices and perspectives emerging from women’s organizations.
- Draw on each sector and organization’s unique competencies to ensure innovative mass outreach and build wider public participation in disseminating the vision, values, and messages of WASL members.
Invisible Women: Gendered Dimensions of Return, Rehabilitation and Reintegration from Violent Extremism
This report contributes a gendered analysis of approaches to the disengagement, rehabilitation and reintegration of women and girls associated with violent extremism. It highlights the gaps in current policies and practice, as well as the solutions that are emerging in part from the experiences and innovations of women-led civil society initiatives. The report concludes with practical recommendations for policymakers and programming guidance for practitioners.
10 Steps to Strengthening Rehabilitation and Reintegration Efforts for Terrorism Offenders, Returning Foreign Terrorist Fighters, and Victims of Violent Extremism
Managing the return of the many individuals who have traveled to conflict zones and the growing number defecting from terrorist groups is a priority for many countries. Here are ten steps to ensure effective R & R
A GSX document offering steps to improve PVE practice through National Action Plans.
A GSX document outlining recommendations from civil society to donors that fund or are interested in funding preventing violent extremism (PVE) programming domestically and/or through development or other foreign assistance.
What the U.S. Must Do and Why It Matters A Policy Brief in the 2016-17 U.S. Civil Society Working Group on Women, Peace and Security Policy Brief Series by Sanam Naraghi Anderlini, Rasha Jarhum, Rana Allam, and Devin Cowick. As a critical member of the coalition...
A preliminary dialogue on the gap between economic policy intentions and realities on the ground.
Why Civil Society and Security Sector Partnerships Matter. Analyzing the impact of security interventions in contributing to and mitigating extremist violence.
From Preventing Violent Extremism to Promoting Peace, Resilience, Equal Rights and Pluralism (PREP).
A gendered content analysis of nine NAPs, analyzing whether and how specific themes and target groups were discussed, including education, media, civil society, gender/ women, and human rights.
10 Steps Governments Can Take to Support the Critical Role of Civil Society in Preventing Violent Extremism
Evidence demonstrates that efforts by governments and multilateral actors, particularly security-focused initiatives, are not sufficient to prevent violent extremism. Governments and multilateral institutions need to work more closely with other sectors of society to...
Stories of women peacebuilders don’t often make it to the headlines. However, they are part of the longest-standing, socially-rooted transnational groups mobilizing for peace, women’s rights and security, and providing an alternative vision for the future.
Women’s Alliance for Security Leadership partners will meet with Heads of State and Government to launch the Global Solutions Exchange.
A Date to Remember: The UN Security Council in Conversation with WASL, the United Nations of Women Peacebuilders
“Twenty years ago, we as women peacebuilders invited the Security Council to join us in the basement of the [UN] Church Center in New York,” said ICAN’s Founder and CEO, Sanam Naraghi Anderlini in her welcoming remarks. That conversation was a steppingstone towards attaining UNSCR 1325 on women, peace and security (WPS). “The peacebuilders that we have with us here are risking their lives every day to bring peace,” she added. “We want to have a genuine exchange, between the UN’s Security Council and our partners in WASL, who are a united nations of women peacebuilders. We each have questions and answers for each other. I hope we can challenge ourselves about what we can do differently together to ensure sustainable peace now and for the future”, said Naraghi Anderlini.
Around the world, women peacebuilders are working within their communities to de-escalate violent conflict and prevent the recurrence of conflict in post-conflict or transitional environments. However, their work is made increasingly more difficult by the framing of conflict resolution as a linear process. WASL partners suggest that conflict is actually a cycle and that most countries will experience multiple phases of the cycle, simultaneously.
In the 14th virtual WASL call, peacebuilders discussed the ‘cycle of conflict’ and how it affects their work on conflict prevention, de-escalation, and peacebuilding.
Read the full summary.
As some countries begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel, for many others, respite is not on the horizon. During the eighth virtual meeting of the Women’s Alliance for Security Leadership (WASL) on May 21, 2020, women peacebuilders highlighted some tough truths about worsening poverty, mismanaged Covid-19 funds, tragic events that have been largely ignored, and feelings of desertion by the international community.
As weeks of lock downs, remote work, and stay-at-home orders turn into months, at ICAN we continue to regularly connect virtually with our partners in the Women’s Alliance for Security Leadership (WASL).
On May 7, we were joined by H.E. Anne Linde, Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs, as the discussions focused on how the pandemic is impacting current peace processes.
How can people stay home when they are dependent on daily wages to feed their families? How can they wash hands if there is no soap or water? From Cameroon to Yemen, women are making soap, and tackling the lack of water. As first responders, women peacebuilders are trying to fill the vacuums and urgent basic needs in terms food, sanitization and security such as mediating ceasefires and calling for prisoners’ release.
On April 23, 2020. Assistant Secretary General Asako Okai, UNDP’s Crisis Bureau Director, and her colleagues joined the ICAN-hosted call with some 45 women peacebuilders across Asia, Africa, the Arab World and Latin America to discuss health care, livelihood and crisis management in the time of Corona.
Read the full summary of the meeting
The discussion in the third WASL virtual meeting addressed the question: how is the pandemic exacerbating or alleviating xenophobia, ethno-nationalism, religious or other extremisms and are there gendered dimensions to this?
Around the world, women peacebuilders report an uptick in hate speech, xenophobia, and extremist messaging. In The Maldives, for example, extremists are recruiting by brainwashing people into believing the pandemic is the wrath of God for not following religious instruction. In Sri Lanka, Islamic burial rites are being denied despite complying with WHO guidelines and Muslims are being portrayed in mainstream media as spreading the disease. Elsewhere it is the government’s poor or biased response that is feeding into extremist narratives. In Cameroon, for example, responses threaten to exacerbate the conflict because only prisoners from certain regions were given clemency to alleviate the crowding in prisons.