In May and July the Embassy of Liechtenstein, in partnership with Women in International Security (WIIS), hosted three panel discussions focusing on the UN Women, Peace and Security agenda.
On May 2, WIIS and the Embassy of Liechtenstein organized a policy roundtable titled "Right-Wing and Religious Violent Extremism." In this roundtable, panelists explored the relationship between the global rise in right-wing, violent extremism and the rise in authoritarianism and populism. The group of panelists discussed the role of gender and gender norms in explaining the movement. Panelists highlighted the necessity to focus on the main beliefs driving actors and movements within the relatively nondescript umbrella category of “far-right”. In addition, they noted that women, within their immediate communities, have very effective networking capabilities even though they make up a smaller portion of violent extremists. Moreover, online platforms have provided women with forums for organizing, which they historically have not had in the past. Women who participate in online extremist communities can also mainstream the movement in ways that male actors typically do not by softening and feminizing the dynamics of organizations. One of the panelists mentioned that research showed that women comprise roughly 15-25% of alt-right organizations in the United States. Furthermore, gender is not just a lens through which to analyze far-right violent extremism, but it is fundamental to extremist ideologies.
On July 11, WIIS and the Embassy of Liechtenstein held a policy roundtable titled "Gender and Great Power Competition Policy." An expert panel examined the present state of great power competition, evaluated chief actors and dynamics, and explored the gender dimensions of this international security matter. The discussion centered on shifts in the international system, including increased authoritarianism, an erosion of liberal democratic norms, such as respect for human rights, gender equality, and the rule of law. Panelists stated that research showed that a society’s attitude towards women is directly linked with its propensity for conflict. Hence, governments that are largely a patriarchy can have a negative impact on peace and security.
Lastly, a discussion on July 25 analyzed the United States Strategy on Women Peace and Security, which was released by the US government in June 2019. While many countries have passed National Action Plans on WPS, only the US has codified the resolution’s Women, Peace and Security agenda into law. Panelists noted that the US strategy and other National Action Plans can only be successful through joint partnerships including civil society organizations and local peace-building organizations. More importantly, not only should governments focus on measures to further the WPS agenda worldwide, but must also implement policies domestically to hold themselves accountable in fulfilling national WPS commitments. Furthermore, mechanisms must be put in place to track the funding of strategies and National Action Plans so their effectiveness can be better evaluated in the future. The WPS agenda should be about changing institutions and their behavior.