NATO Policy on Women, Peace and Security (2024)

  • 10 Jul. 2024 -
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  • Last updated: 11 Jul. 2024 09:11


  1. NATO is committed to defending and promoting the principles of individual liberty, human rights, democracy and the rule of law. Gender equality and the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda are integral to sustainable peace, and are a reflection of our core values and priorities. NATO has a unique and important role to play in advancing WPS as both a strategic and a value based imperative.
  2. NATO remains firmly committed to the North Atlantic Treaty and the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations (UN). NATO Allies remain steadfast in their commitment to contribute to advancing the global WPS Agenda, as set out by UN Security Council Resolution(UNSCR) 1325 on WPS (2000), and all related resolutions adopted thereafter 1. NATO recognises the four pillars of the global WPS Agenda, namely participation, prevention, protection and, relief and recovery, as foundational in supporting the implementation of this Policy.
  3. NATO recognises the distinct and disproportionate impact that instability, crisis, conflict, and post-conflict situations have on women and girls. Women and girls face declining safety and security, and their rights are being eroded globally. Women continue to face barriers to full, equal, safe, and meaningful participation in public and political life as well as in peace and security processes.
  4. NATO recognises that in addition to the critical roles that women play in peace and security activities, they are often at the forefront of efforts to support societal resilience, mediate and respond to crises and conflicts, and build peace. Their full, equal, safe, and meaningful participation in decision-making is critical to the achievement of NATO’s mandate and to peace and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area.
  5. NATO and Allies contribute to the advancement of the global WPS Agenda by making this Policy an integral part of both civilian and military structures, and in all contexts. The primary responsibility for the implementation of the global WPS Agenda rests with nations, through National Action Plans, national security and defence strategies, and commitments to broader international frameworks 2.Building coherence between national and global efforts3 will support NATO in achieving the objectives of this Policy.
  6. NATO’s Human Security4and WPS Agendas reflect a people-centred and human rights-based approach, and complement and reinforce one another while remaining separate. While Human Security considers the safety and security of all people, WPS provides a focus on the gendered impact of conflict, often disproportionately impacting women and girls as a result of gender inequality and discrimination. Allies recognise the strong interlinkages between the two Agendas. Conflict-Related Sexual Violence (CRSV) in particular is part of NATO’s Human Security Agenda while remaining firmly rooted in the WPS Agenda.5The use of CRSV as a deliberate tactic of war is an acute threat in all conflicts and undermines societal resilience and regional stability more broadly. NATO is committed to ensuring effective prevention and response to CRSV in all NATO missions, operations and activities as outlined in the NATO Policy on Preventing and Responding to CRSV.6
  7. This Policy builds on lessons learned, experiences, and successes from NATO’s long standing work on WPS7, as well as from those gathered from NATO Allies, partners, and civil society organisations.

Security Environment

  1. Peace in the Euro-Atlantic area has been shattered. The Russian Federation has violated the norms and principles that contributed to a stable and predictable European security order. The Russian Federation is the most significant and direct threat to Allies’ security and to peace and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area. Terrorism, in all its forms and manifestations, is the most direct asymmetric threat to the security of our citizens and to international peace and prosperity. The threats we face are global and interconnected. Strategic competition, pervasive instability and recurrent shocks define our broader security environment.8
  2. The changing security environment impacts women and girls in distinct ways and can exacerbate existing gender inequalities. Women play diverse roles in identifying and responding to evolving threats and challenges.
  3. In Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, civilians are being deliberately targeted. This constitutes a violation of international humanitarian law. Among other methods of warfare, CRSV, unlawful killings, deprivation of liberty, and torture have been used by Russia against all segments of the population, particularly impacting women and girls. At the same time, Ukrainian women have taken on pivotal roles in the maintenance of societal fabric by defending their country, including on the frontline.
  4. Terrorism threatens the security of our population, forces, and territory. Women can engage as perpetrators, and terrorist organisations retain the capability to inspire, direct, and train women and girls, alongside men and boys, to execute attacks against our territory. Propaganda and recruitment efforts can exploit existing gender inequalities and gendered narratives. Women are targeted as victims, and also have crucial roles in preventing and countering terrorism.
  5. NATO’s southern neighbourhood faces interconnected security, demographic, economic, and political challenges, which have gender dimensions. In line with the global WPS Agenda, NATO recognises these can have a direct impact on the success of any efforts to support regional stability and security.
  6. Climate change is a defining challenge of our time. NATO recognises the compounding impacts of gender inequality, conflict, and climate change on women and girls, with implications for security. Women have a valuable role to play in decision-making and in finding solutions to comprehensively address climate change related security challenges. Additionally, they may have distinct experiences, knowledge, skills and resources to contribute in addressing these challenges. NATO also acknowledges the impacts of climate change on our assets and installations, missions and multi-domain operations, and resilience and civil preparedness.9 These impacts underscore the need to integrate gender perspectives in taking forward NATO’s Agenda on Climate Change and Security and in its focus on awareness, adaptation, mitigation, and outreach.
  7. Strategic competitors and potential adversaries, both state and non-state actors, exploit gender narratives and promote gendered disinformation to sow division and destabilise our societies. This challenges the Alliance’s security, resilience, interests, values and democratic way of life. While digital, new, and emerging technologies offer opportunities to create a more gender equal world, technological biases are recognised to also exacerbate gender inequalities.
  8. Women and girls continue to be disproportionately targetted by multiple forms of sexual and gender-based violence, including CRSV, technology-facilitated gender-based violence (TFGBV), exploitation and abuse, and human trafficking. NATO also recognises that men and boys can be victims of gender-based threats and violence, including CRSV, and are important actors in the promotion of the WPS Agenda.

Scope and Strategic Objectives

  1. This Policy supports the goals enshrined in the 2022 Strategic Concept and aims to provide a political framework for NATO’s contribution to international peace and security through the integration of WPS across the three core tasks of deterrence and defence, crisis prevention and management, and cooperative security. Gender mainstreaming 10enhances our political decision-making, operational effectiveness, and all efforts to achieve gender equality.
  2. Four strategic objectives, inspired by the global WPS Agenda11 and tailored to NATO’s mandate and mission, will guide NATO’s political and military efforts, internally and externally:
    1. Gender-responsive leadership and accountability: To ensure NATO leaders strengthen their gender expertise, work towards gender equality and are accountable for the implementation of the WPS Agenda.
    2. Participation: To strive for a gender-balanced workforce at all levels, including in decision-making and leadership roles, benefitting from a broader skillset and new perspectives across the NATO Enterprise. To promote the full, equal, safe and meaningful participation of women in peace and security at local, national, regional, and global levels, recognising the mutually reinforcing relationship between Participation, Prevention and Protection.
    3. Prevention: To advance NATO’s role in preventing and countering threats that disproportionately impact women and girls, and promoting the active role of women in crisis prevention and management at all levels, as well as in relief and recovery.
    4. Protection: To actively promote the protection and safeguarding of women and girls from all forms of gender-based violence.
  3. The further enhancement and institutionalisation of political-military cooperation is essential to achieving our aims and objectives as it enables a coherent, consistent and integrated approach to implementing this Policy.

Integration Across the Three Core Tasks

Deterrence and Defence

  1. Deterrence and defence remains the backbone of NATO’s Article 5 commitment by Allies to defend each other. The integration of WPS and gender perspectives12 in military and non-military instruments of power enhance the Alliance’s ability to understand conflict factors and operating environments, identify security risks and vulnerabilities, and to develop more tailored and gender-responsive interventions and effective solutions. Across all domains and within its mandate to protect civilians, NATO will take measures to prevent and counter threats, which impact women and girls disproportionately. Integrating gender perspectives into doctrine, readiness evaluation, as well as regular training and exercises will be essential to developing this capacity.
  2. NATO will strengthen efforts to integrate gender perspectives into all aspects of its work to better deter, defend, contest and deny across all domains and directions, by providing granularity in support of the Alliance’s 360-degree approach and through Multi-Domain Operations. This approach will enhance political decision-making and operational effectiveness in achieving peace and stability by advancing activities in all areas including: counter-terrorism; arms control and disarmament; emerging and disruptive technologies; chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defence; cyber defence; and responding to hybrid threats.
  3. While resilience is a national responsibility and a collective commitment13, Allies play the primary role in improving societal resilience with citizens and societies as fundamental actors. Building societal resilience requires the full, equal, safe and meaningful participation of all segments of the population, including women and women’s civil society organisations. Gender perspectives will be integrated into policy frameworks and planned actions in the interest of empowering and accounting for all segments of populations and Allied forces on the path to strengthening resilience.
  4. The weaponisation of gendered narratives and the use of gendered disinformation, which are increasingly facilitated by digital, new and emerging technologies, are established tactics employed in hostile information strategies targeting social cohesion within democracies and aiming to increase polarisation. NATO will integrate WPS in actions to detect, prevent, and respond to this challenge through political dialogue, public diplomacy and Alliance strategic communications to enable better identification of opportunities to prevent oversights of domestic risks, and therefore mitigate harm in both Allied territory and NATO’s neighbourhood.
  5. TFGBV is a growing threat to women and girls that has been demonstrated to reduce women’s participation and leadership in public, political and military spheres as well as in decision making processes. This has negative consequences for democracy and for peace and security, is a known strategy, and is actively used by malign state and non-state actors. NATO will support actions to understand, prevent and counter TFGBV, which threatens the core values of the Alliance and undermines Allied security.
  6. NATO will strengthen its deterrence and defence posture with robust, in place, multi-domain and combat ready forces. Troop-contributing nations will work to increase the participation and representation of women in NATO-led forces at all levels through their force generation process. This necessitates gender-responsive leadership and accountability in addressing barriers to the recruitment, retention, and career advancement of women.
  7. The Policy is consistent with and supports the implementation of NATO’s Military Strategy, the Concept for the Deterrence and Defence of the Euro-Atlantic Area (DDA 2020) and the NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept (NWCC 2021).14

Crisis Prevention and Management

  1. NATO Allies have a shared interest in contributing to stability and managing conflicts and will continue to work to prevent and respond to crises when these have the potential to affect Allied security.15 Integrating gender perspectives throughout all aspects of crisis response, preparedness and management, operations planning and execution, significantly increases NATO’s understanding of the operating environment. Within its mandate to protect civilians, NATO will aim to protect women and girls particularly from all forms of gender-based violence, including CRSV. Advocating for the active role of women in crisis prevention and management contributes to the capacity to prevent and respond to crises in a more nuanced and effective manner.
  2. All NATO personnel involved in the planning and execution of operations, especially Allied Military Planners and intelligence communities, must integrate gender perspectives and ensure close working relations with Gender Advisors and Gender Focal Points to strengthen information sharing16 and gender analysis.17 This will support improved intelligence, conduct of operations, and decision-making in both NATO military and political structures. NATO will further integrate gender-responsive indicators in early warning processes, crisis prevention and early response efforts.
  3. NATO will prioritise engagement with local women’s and civil society networks and organisations in crisis prevention and management activities, in line with established rules and procedures, as they are essential to inform analysis and assessments, which will, in turn, further improve military planning and lead to more effective and gender-responsive solutions.
  4. NATO will ensure women’s perspectives and needs are considered in institutional transformation of security and defence sector and recovery efforts, as appropriate.

Cooperative Security

  1. The area of cooperative security, with its wide network of relations between NATO and its partners, as well as other organisations around the globe, provides a particular impetus for the WPS Agenda. NATO will bring together relevant WPS actors to achieve the objectives of this Policy, as appropriate.
  2. NATO will engage with its partners on WPS through established partnership tools and mechanisms. Measures to enhance cooperative security under the auspices of WPS include capacity building efforts, dialogue and joint political messaging, exchanges of information, good practices and expertise, engagement on the nexus of gender and emerging security challenges, and exercises and training activities.
  3. Practical assistance provided by NATO through the various established partnership programmes supports partners in developing security and defence institutions that are accessible and responsive to the needs of both women and men, and include the promotion of women’s participation and representation at all levels of national armed forces.
  4. NATO will continue facilitating partner access to WPS related and Gender in Military Operations (GMO) training offered through NATO, and encouraging its partners to develop their national education and training. This will also promote WPS as an interoperability enabler.
  5. NATO will pursue two-way staff level engagement on WPS with relevant actors, such as the United Nations, the European Union, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and the African Union, as appropriate.
  6. NATO recognises the instrumental role civil society plays at local, national, regional, and global levels, in implementing the WPS Agenda. NATO will continue to proactively engage with civil society, including through the Civil Society Advisory Panel (CSAP)18, to ensure NATO’s efforts are informed by a wealth of knowledge and experience in all aspects of peace and security, including societal resilience, conflict mediation and peacebuilding, and post-conflict relief and recovery. The CSAP will serve as a forum for regular consultation and dialogue between civil society and NATO.
  7. Given the increase in technology-based opportunities as well as challenges with gendered elements facing the Alliance, coordination with private sector partners is increasingly relevant. NATO will engage with relevant private sector actors, from Allied and partner nations, on WPS and gendered aspects of technology to improve shared understanding. NATO will continue to integrate gender perspectives to shape standards, and to reduce and remedy gender biases and operationalise the Principles of Responsible Use19 that Allies have committed to ensuring in Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications and other technologies. This aims to mitigate harm and prevent setbacks in gender equality and human rights of women and girls and to facilitate the adoption of trusted AI applications and other technologies.

Institutional Framework

  1. The advancement of NATO’s WPS Agenda is a shared responsibility requiring active commitment and accountability from Allies, NATO political and military leadership, as well as staff throughout the NATO Enterprise. NATO is committed to maintaining a robust institutional framework to guide and support the implementation of this Policy. Ongoing engagement between civilian and military stakeholders across the NATO Enterprise will strengthen implementation of this Policy.
  2. NATO is committed to integrating gender perspectives into the development of education, training, exercises and evaluation (ETEE) curricula, doctrine, as well as other activities such as conflict analysis, mission planning and execution, and operations. Leadership is responsible for ensuring that all personnel receive the appropriate education and training to systematically integrate gender perspectives in their work. In the NATO Command Structure, NATO Force Structure and International Military Staff Commanding Officers and senior leaders will ensure that trained GENADs are involved in decision-making processes. NATO will include gender specific criteria in evaluations, identify WPS related lessons and ensure they are learned.
  3. NATO Allies and troop contributing partners are committed to the provision of personnel at all levels, trained in WPS and GMO, to all NATO headquarters, missions, operations and council mandated activities. Allies are also committed to integrate WPS and GMO into training and their professional military education programmes.
  4. 4NATO recognises that interoperability amongst Allies and partners in their approach to integrating gender perspectives in military operations will improve operational effectiveness.
  5. Data disaggregated by sex, age and other factors appropriate to the context should support gender analyses to inform all decisions including those relating to policies, programmes, plans, and operations.
  6. NATO encourages a more gender-inclusive environment, and will prioritise achieving better gender balance across the NATO Enterprise by increasing the number of women in NATO’s civil and military structures, especially in senior and decision-making positions.
  7. NATO is committed to ensuring a respectful and safe working environment that will allow all personnel to reach their full potential, including within national military forces. NATO is committed to combatting harassment, including sexual harassment, bullying and discrimination, and sexual abuse in the workplace. NATO will continue efforts to maintain a respectful and safe workplace and prevent the occurrence of harassment, bullying and discrimination, including through targeted training, a communications strategy, accountability mechanisms and other awareness raising initiatives.
  8. All personnel in NATO-led missions, operations, and activities and all staff20 across the NATO Enterprise must live up to the highest standard of professionalism and conduct. Sexual exploitation and abuse runs counter to NATO’s principles and core values, undermines the effectiveness and credibility of the Alliance, risks mission success, and can be a barrier for the full, equal, safe, and meaningful participation of women. NATO will continue to implement its zero-tolerance approach to all acts of sexual exploitation and abuse, as outlined in NATO’s Policy on Preventing and Responding to Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA).21 Allies’ commitment to addressing SEA by implementing this priority through national structures, including within national military forces, in collaboration with NATO is essential.
  9. The NATO WPS Leadership Task Force will meet regularly to support and strategically guide implementation of this Policy and ensure accountability for initiatives agreed in any Action Plan(s). The NATO WPS Technical Task Force of Focal Points from the International Staff, International Military Staff and the Strategic Commands, will continue to facilitate and strengthen the implementation of NATO’s WPS Agenda and Action Plan by serving as a platform for coordination and information sharing. The Technical Task Force will facilitate the process of integrating gender perspectives into all of NATO’s work.
  10. Allies’ expertise and experience will be leveraged through regular political and military engagements. Under the auspices of the NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for WPS, meetings of WPS, Gender Equality, and Feminist Foreign Policy leadership will be convened to advance this Policy. The NATO Committee on Gender Perspectives (NCGP), an advisory body to the Military Committee, will continue to advance efforts to integrate gender perspectives and promote gender mainstreaming across the operational spectrum. The NCGP will also ensure that best practices from individual nations are incorporated into the posture of the Alliance.
  11. NATO will develop a comprehensive approach to communications to promote NATO’s WPS Agenda, which involves relevant internal stakeholders, and will aim to increase the comprehension and visibility of NATO’s efforts. This effort will also contribute to raising awareness, building ownership, strengthening dialogue, and cooperation in the process of implementation and monitoring of the WPS Agenda commitments both in military and civilian structures.

Implementation, Monitoring and Reporting

  1. Implementation of this Policy will be supported by a NATO Action Plan that outlines concrete, measurable, and results-oriented actions across the NATO Enterprise. The Plan will be developed through a political-military consultative process led by the International Staff and forwarded to Council for approval. The Plan may be supported by Implementation Plan(s) or other tools developed by the International Staff, the International Military Staff, the Strategic Commands, and all divisions and agencies that support the outcomes and objectives laid out in the Plan.
  2. The Alliance will ensure adequate personnel and financial resources are allocated to implement this Policy and the Action Plan. In addition to internal review processes,22 independent assessments and civil society consultations, including through the CSAP, will be beneficial to provide recommendations on the implementation of the Action Plan and help identify whether actions and resources are enabling NATO to meet its objectives.
  3. NATO’s partners are invited to associate with this Policy as a means to express their political commitment and willingness to advance its objectives.
  4. NATO Allies and associated partners will receive a progress report annually.23 In addition, progress on advancement of NATO’s WPS efforts will be discussed among Allies every six months or more frequently upon their request.24
  5. NATO Allies are encouraged to report progress and to share good practices in the national advancement of the global WPS Agenda, including through National Action Plans and other security and defence strategies.
  6. The NATO Secretary General is invited to continue including information on the implementation of this Policy as a part of the Secretary General’s public annual report. In addition, the NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for WPS will also report publicly on progress at their discretion.
  7. This Policy will be reviewed at a minimum of every five years, or sooner as needed.
  1. Nine additional resolutions on Women, Peace and Security have been adopted: UNSCR 1820 (2008); 1888 (2009); 1889 (2009); 1960; (2010); 2106 (2013); 2122 (2013); 2242 (2015); 2467 (2019); 2493 (2019).
  2. For example, the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).
  3. These include among others the UN Agenda for Peace, UN Sustainable Development Goals, UN Youth, Peace and Security Agenda.
  4. NATO’s Human Security Agenda encompasses five areas: Protection of Civilians; Conflict-Related Sexual Violence, Combating Trafficking in Human-Beings, Children and Armed Conflict, and Cultural Property Protection.
  5. Several UN Security Resolutions that are part of the WPS Agenda relate to CRSV: 1820(2008); 1888 (2009); 1960 (2010); 2106; (2013); 2467 (2019).
  6. NATO Policy on Preventing and Responding to Conflict-Related Sexual Violence, 25 May 2021.
  7. NATO endorsed its first Policy to implement the UNSCR 1325 in 2007. The Policy has been updated several times, most recently in 2018.
  8. Vilnius Summit Communique, paragraphs 5 and 6.
  9. NATO Climate Change and Security Impact Assessment, The Secretary General’s Report, Second Edition, 2023, p. 6, 7 July 2023.
  10. NATOTerm Record 6189.
  11. The 4 Pillars of the UN WPS Agenda are: participation, prevention, protection, and relief and recovery.
  12. NATOTerm Record 15195.
  13. Strengthened Resilience Commitment by NATO Heads of State and Government, 13 June 2021.
  14. The NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept (2021) contributes to the Alliance’s efforts to strengthen its deterrence and defence posture and offers a vision in support of maintaining and further developing NATO’s decisive military advantage, and continuously adapting the military instrument of power through to 2040.
  15. NATO 2022 Strategic Concept, paragraph 35.
  16. In accordance with the relevant NATO policies and procedures, as well as security agreements as appropriate.
  17. NATOTerm Record 18587.
  18. Revised Terms of Reference for the Civil Society Advisory Panel on Women, Peace and Security. 11 January 2024.
  19. Approval of NATO’s Artificial Intelligence Strategy, 5 October 2021, paragraph 23.
  20. Military and civilian staff.
  21. Approval of the NATO Policy on Preventing and Responding to Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA), 13 November 2019.
  22. Assessment timelines will be clearly indicated within the Action Plan.
  23. Reporting will continue to be discussed in the Deputies Committee and shared with the Council for notation as appropriate.
  24. This may include dedicated sessions of the Council, the Deputies Committee or other fora where having discussions specific to the advancement of NATO’s WPS Policy are deemed necessary in agreement with the NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security.