Women In International Security (WIIS) is the premier organization in the world dedicated to advancing the leadership and professional development of women in the field of international peace and security. WIIS (pronounced “wise”) sponsors leadership training, mentoring, and networking programs as well as substantive events focused on current policy problems. WIIS also supports research projects and policy engagement initiatives on critical international security issues, including the nexus between gender and security.
Core Values and Characteristics
-WIIS defines international security broadly, inclusive of a range of disciplines such as conflict resolution and human rights, but focuses on the intersection or nexus of these issues with security.
-WIIS bridges the divides among: issues (traditional security and human security); generations of women; and sectors (academic, practitioner, and policymaker).
-WIIS educates and inspires women at all stages of their careers – the multigenerational aspect of its network is one of WIIS’ greatest strengths.
-WIIS builds local, national and global communities that empower women in many different countries.
-WIIS encourages the active civic engagement of women and men who understand the importance of inclusive and diverse participation in peace and security.
-WIIS is non-profit and non-partisan. WIIS advocates for women’s inclusion and leadership in the peace and security fields but does not lobby on specific pieces of legislation.
-WIIS provides valuable services and resources to build a global network of women in these fields and increases the number and visibility of women across sectors and around the world.
The Importance of WIIS
Since the founding of WIIS in 1987, women have advanced to increasingly important roles in the field of international security. There are new and expanding opportunities for women’s participation globally, as women are present in greater numbers in foreign and defense affairs and now occupy important positions in governments around the world. In recent years, the international community has recognized the important contributions of women to peace and security and has made commitments to include women in peace and security decision-making at all levels. But equal representation of women is not yet a reality, especially at senior levels of policymaking.
Women comprise less than 30 percent of senior leadership positions. Entry into the profession is not necessarily translating into advancement into leadership positions in key peace and security institutions.
The lack of female representation in decision-making positions means that the international community is missing the diversity of expertise and perspectives that are desperately needed in this field. WIIS recognizes that all women do not share the same opinions about how to address the world’s security problems. But women often share common experiences and challenges as women, and they often share common, valuable approaches to leadership roles. WIIS’ research demonstrates that women in these positions of authority often share consultative, inclusive, and collaborative leadership styles. The contributions that women have made and could potentially make to international peace and security are just beginning to be recognized. WIIS is working to ensure that recognition translates into leadership opportunities for women around the world.
In 1987 a small group of women in senior positions of the U.S. Government and academia formed WIIS as a response to the lack of support for women in the male-dominated foreign policy and defense environment. WIIS began its operations at the University of Maryland, College Park.
WIIS has grown into a network of 7,000 associated experts worldwide, reflecting a broad and diverse range of expertise. WIIS now has members in more than 47 countries and throughout the U.S. who are policymakers, military personnel, diplomats, legislative aides, scholars, students, journalists, and business executives at all stages of their careers. They work on issues ranging from non-proliferation and terrorism to human rights, development, environmental security, and conflict resolution.
Where is Women in International Security