2nd Edition

Women, Peace and Security An Introduction

By Joan Johnson-Freese Copyright 2024
    250 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    250 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book offers an accessible overview of the issues related to the Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) global agenda. This new edition has been updated and includes new chapters on WPS and Environmental Change and on WPS in Regional and Security Organizations.

    The 2nd edition provides explains Women, Peace and Security as a security framework, different though related to both gender equality as a social justice issue or a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion issue. Within the context of the changing nature of warfare, a complex and volatile global political climate, and through consideration of empirical evidence, it examines the definitions, theoretical underpinnings and methodological challenges associated with implementing WPS. It then discusses with more specificity violence against women, women civilians in war, the role of women in peacemaking, women in the military and in development, and women politicians, with new material on environmental change and on regional and security organisations. Examples and case studies draw from Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Europe and North and South America. The need for more sex-disaggregated data on every topic is emphasized throughout, necessary to both demonstrate relationships between gender and security and to identify solutions to problems. The book concludes with a look to the future and number of action items from the macro to the micro level.

    This book will be of much interest to students of peace studies, security studies, gender studies and IR, as well as professional military college students.


    1. A Place at the Table

    2. The Role of Feminist Theory

    3. Patriarchies

    4. Prejudice and Acculturation

    5. Gender-Based Violence

    6. Women and Development

    7. Gender, the Environment and Climate Change

    8. Women in Conflict

    9. Women and Peacemaking

    10. Women in the Military

    11. Women Political Leaders

    12. Women, Peace and Security in Security Organizations

    13. Moving Forward


    Joan Johnson-Freese is Senior Fellow, Women in International Security and Professor Emeritus, Naval War College, Faculty, Harvard Extension & Summer Schools. She is author of several books, including Educating America’s Military (2012), Space Warfare in the 21st Century (2016), and Women vs Women (2022).

    'Status quo national security perspectives of the 20th century lack a much-needed human security focus that is integral to the Women, Peace, and Security framework. In this second edition of Women, Peace, and Security, Johnson-Freese provides the compelling evidence demonstrating that women’s participation and voice in national security produces tangible impacts such as lowering violence, creating lasting peace agreements, lowering corruption, developing more trust in governments and improving health and education outcomes. Women, Peace and Security is a vital security topic—not just a social justice issue—that treats women as security agents rather than victims or bystanders and demands women be integral to security-related decision-making.'

    Captain David G. Smith (USN Ret.), Associate Professor in the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School and co-author of Good Guys: How Men Can Be Better Allies for Women in the Workplace and Athena Rising: How and Why Men Should Mentor Women.

    'I hear your skepticism: what’s the point of considering gender in national security spheres? Read this WPS introduction and you too will be convinced that a gender-inclusive foreign policy is the only way forward. Without a gender perspective, we cannot make sense of women suicide bombers; the roots of misogyny in domestic terrorism and cyber violence; why peace agreements that involve lead women negotiators last longer; and how women’s insecurities will be foundational to numerous future state stability threats, especially for a warming world in which women lack insufficient power to achieve resilience for themselves and their families. If lasting peace is your aim—whether you work in government, development, nonprofit, or the armed forces—you need this overview to understand why international security theory must be redefined using a rigorous application of a gendered lens.'

    Maryruth Belsey Priebe, Director for Women, Peace and Security Programs and Senior Fellow at Pacific Forum International

    'Joan Johnson-Freese significantly expands the scope of Women Peace and Security with this insightful book on how women in national security roles make a profound difference in constructing sustainable outcomes.   This treatment of WPS expands the author’s first groundbreaking book with new insights on a women’s roles in the media, the military and at the diplomatic negotiating table.'

    Kitty Pilgrim, journalist, author

    'This volume contributes to an ever-growing body of research linking gender inequality with violence and conflict and gender equality with greater peace and stability and as such places gender equality as central to human and national security. Joan Johnson-Freese lays out a compelling argument for how to use the WPS framework to advance peace by using gender equality as an integral vehicle of transformative change. The reading is both critical and forward-looking and recognizes that the first step is looking internally - not externally.'

    Heather Huhtanen, Gender Expert, Geneva, Switzerland

    'This is a must-read book not just for students of international relations and security studies, but security policymakers and practitioners as well.  The United States was the first country to make implementation of UNSCR 1325 mandatory through the Women, Peace and Security Act of 2017 yet too few of those charged with implementation fully understand the security imperatives of its principles. The up-to-date 2nd edition covers both the theory behind and application of those principles using globally-focused examples.'

    (Note: The views expressed above are not the official position of the Department of Defense.)
    Ambassador (ret.) Greta C. Holtz, Chancellor, College of International Security Affairs, National Defense University

    'This book is expertly reflects the various aspects of how gender informs, influences, and impacts peace and security. A perfect read for students, academics, military officials, politicians, and policy makers interested in being introduced to or developing a better understanding of how gender plays a critical role in defense, international relations, and development.'

    Tahina Montoya, Women, Peace and Security Subject Matter Expert, Department of Defense Gender Advisor, and Women in International Security Fellow

    'This book is essential for students of International Relations, well as International Law.  It not only provides the necessary background information regarding Women, Peace and Security, but then expands the information in ways that both students and practitioners will find helpful.  Johnson-Freese clearly and concisely provides the 'bifocal' lens to the issue of gender equality in the area of security.  The book provides a road map not only to how to attain equality, but how doing so will make the world a more secure place.  In addition to many of the updates to this edition, I am thrilled to see the chapter on Environment and Climate Change included, as this will be a leading source of conflict in the next few decades.'

    Nancy Kaymar Stafford, Immediate Past Chair, International Law Section, American Bar Association

    'The Second Edition of Joan Johnson-Freese’s important book, Women, Peace and Security: An Introduction, continues to broaden our collective understanding of why women’s participation in policy making is critical to global security.  This work sharpens the argument that policymakers must use gender analysis in addressing every issue – from arms control to peacekeeping to climate change and food security. As the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us, every issue is connected to our ability to live in a secure (and prosperous) world and that the silos between foreign and domestic issues are no longer tenable.'

    Stephenie Foster, author, Co-Founder Smash Strategies, and former US Department of State official (2012-17, 2021-23)

    'This book is a necessary addition to the far too neglected study of the importance of sex and gender in security-related issues and offers a highly informative approach in the field of International Relations. It is remarkable for its exhaustive theoretical and empirical quality within the WPS framework, providing a global understanding of the paramount role women’s voice plays in conflict prevention and positive peace.'

    Bojana Coulibaly, language of conflict in Africa specialist & Harvard African Language Program manager

    'Yes!  Women and gender equity are integral to effective, comprehensive national security.  For students and practitioners who may falter in normalizing gender inclusion in their analyses, Joan Johnson-Freese illuminates how and why it matters across activities, actors, and institutions.  Her work is an important contribution to our collective ability to sharpen national security outcomes to serve all who impact and are impacted by them.'

    Mary Beth Leonard, U.S. Ambassador (to Nigeria, the African Union, and Mali), retired

    'In this second edition of the book, Joan provides the framework and makes the case for taking gender into account when discussing or making national security policy. Updated with sections on global health and climate change, this book is an essential resource for those seeking to make the world a safer place for all.'

    Susan Markham, Author, Feminist Foreign Policy in Theory and in Practice: An Introduction

    'International Relations has come late to feminism. But better late than never since current global polarization cannot be comprehended without a gendered lens. Joan Johnson-Freese's second-edition book is a primer that deftly explains how gendered relations affect all aspects of international relations and why women’s voices are imperative for addressing global challenges.'

    Jacqui True, Director of Centre for Gender, Peace and Security, Monash University, Australia

    Praise for the first edition:

    ‘Finally, a book that makes a comprehensive national security case for women not just serving in combat roles but being fully integrated into the training pipeline for all roles. As a journalist and government official in war zones, I have witnessed first hand the value women bring to a team, such as building trust in Afghan villages in ways that expand the security perimeter and offering new ways of thinking through complex problems. This isn’t about "women’s rights" but about what is right to keep America safe and the world more peaceful.’

    Eileen O’Connor, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and former CNN war zone correspondent

    ‘To the Rumsfeldian category of ''known-knowns,'' Professor Johnson-Freese has added a corollary: ''knowns you were not aware you knew.'' For practitioners of diplomacy, development, and defense, this volume uncovers the roles women now play – or need to play – in securing a more stable and prosperous world. The ideas presented here deserve to be incorporated into education and training programs and become every day practice for diplomats, assistance experts, soldiers, and others engaged, or seeking involvement, in the international security realm.’ 

    Gene Christy, US Ambassador (Ret.)

    ‘Women, Peace and Security: An Introduction – you might think that the author has written yet another book in the whatevernumber-wave feminist or post-feminist debate and so leave on the shelf. DON’T MAKE THAT MISTAKE – the book is essentially about the fundament and solidity of our democracy; a pointed understanding of effective democratic use and democratic control over the tools and mechanics of security policy. This is a must-read for all interested in security policy – professionals and laymen alike!’

    Ole Kværnø, Royal Danish Defence College

    ‘Joan Johnson-Freese simultaneously educates policymakers and practitioners that gender equality is a critical dimension of security while empowering these same actors to achieve better security outcomes through their heightened awareness. The reader is treated to an interdisciplinary feast of gender and feminist theory explored and applied in a security context. Her wide-ranging case studies illustrate the phenomenal power the gender lens can wield to understand war, conflict, development, and politics. Women, Peace and Security fills a critical curriculum gap across all dimensions of security studies.’

    Marybeth Peterson Ulrich, General Maxwell D. Taylor Chair of the Profession of Arms, US Army War College

    'This publication represents a significant contribution to the ongoing discussion on Women, Peace and Security, and moves the debate beyond the confines of the United Nations and embeds it in practical security considerations that governments must grapple with on a daily basis. It exposes the bias that still exists towards the involvement of women in security discussions, operations and activities, and makes a strong case for women as positive actors in guaranteeing security at the community, state, regional and international levels; and not merely as beneficiaries of security.'

    Rocky R. Meade, Chief of the Jamaican Defense Force