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

Our Approach

We cultivate vertical, horizontal and diagonal connections

Vertical 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.
Horizontal Connections
  • 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.
Diagonal Connections
  • 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.

Publications

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.

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Bringing Peace to Yemen by Having Women at the Table

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...

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WASL Videos

Why Are Women Peacebuilders at Risk?

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.

Updates

Ground Realities: Women, Peacebuilding & the Pandemic

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

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How is the Pandemic Exacerbating Extremisms?

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.

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ICAN’s Statement on our Gender- and Conflict-Sensitive Response to COVID-19

As we watch our own leaders react, we at ICAN are reminded and humbled by the strength and dignity of our partners in the Women’s Alliance for Security Leadership (WASL). For years they have faced the threat of war and militarism, of displacement and life-threatening diseases, and at each turn, they have stepped up to the plate to be the first responders in their communities. To support them, we are adapting our activities to respond to the current crisis, while retaining our focus on inclusive peacebuilding and prevention of violent extremism.
Please read the statement to know how ICAN is responding to COVID-19.

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How are Women Peacebuilders Responding to Covid-19?

By Helena Gronberg
On April 2, 2020 some 40+ members of Women’s Alliance for Security Leadership (WASL) gathered for a two-hour virtual meeting. The objective of this first virtual get-together was to share reflections and experiences as well as solidarity around how the Covid-19 pandemic is affecting local women peacebuilders around the globe. It is evident that the crisis is driving many to yet again step up and lead the charge against the pandemic in their communities.

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90 Partners, 29 Countries from Nigeria to Norway, Mexico to Tajikistan

“One thing is guaranteed: our vision for a future of peace, justice, dignity, rights, pluralism, and prosperity for all is possible. ”

+1 202 986 0952

info@icanpeacework.org

media@icanpeacework.org

Suite 524, 1775 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20036