A new C&SN Issue Brief examines the impact on women of counterterrorism laws and policies restricting peacebuilding and humanitarian work. It looks at the disproportionate effect that armed conflict has on women, shines a light on the role women are taking in these global hot spots to improve their lives and their communities, and explains how empowering legislation would allow U.S. humanitarian and peacebuilding groups to partner with these women to create lasting change.

It is widely understood that that women are disproportionately impacted by armed conflict, but are also known as effective peacebuilders. Women in conflict zones are standing up and taking charge of improving their lives and their communities. At the same time, official U.S. government policy takes the position that women should not be seen as just passive recipients of its programs.

However, U.S. aid groups working with or on behalf of women have been hindered both in terms of access and a decrease in donations. The U.S. prohibition on material support of terrorism and sanctions laws block legitimate humanitarian and peacebuilding projects and prevent money from flowing to these groups. Changes in U.S. law are needed so that we can support women working to improve conditions in extremist-held areas and offer alternatives to armed violence. Legislative reform could allow civil society to address the root causes of the issues surrounding women in conflict, and create positive, lasting change by allowing nonprofit organizations, particularly those that focus on either women’s rights, peacebuilding or both, to enter these global hot spots to assist the women working for positive change and to provide their lifesaving work.

 Read the issue brief here.