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Women in International Security Netherlands

Women In International Security (WIIS) is a global organisation dedicated to advancing the leadership and professional development of women in the field of international peace and security. As part of her research on women, peace and security, Dr. Vanessa Newby at the Institute for Security and Global Affairs recently established an official Netherlands chapter of WIIS. In addition to being President of WIIS-NL, Dr. Newby is the lead researcher for the Gender and Peace research stream of the Chair of UN Studies in Peace and Justice.

WIIS (pronounced 'wise') sponsors leadership training, mentoring, and networking programmes 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.

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.

As the newest chapter of WIIS Global, WIIS Netherlands aims to engage a broad audience of women and men interested in gender issues relating to international security and create a dialogue around the wider issues concerning women in international security.

Dr. Vanessa Newby

Importance of Women in International Security

The United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 1325 on women and peace and security on 31 October 2000 which reaffirms the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, peace negotiations, peace-building, peacekeeping, humanitarian response and in post-conflict reconstruction. It stresses the importance of their equal participation and full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security. By urging all actors to increase the participation of women and incorporate gender perspectives in all United Nations peace and security efforts it supports women being viewed as agents rather than only victims. Women bring a different perspective to peace and security debates and the UN has recognized the need to incorporate their views.

Currently, women comprise less than 30 percent of senior leadership positions.  Entry into the profession is not translating into advancement into leadership positions in key peace and security institutions which in turn does not reflect gender equality. WIIS is working to ensure that awareness of this issue can translate into leadership opportunities for women around the world.

WIIS Netherlands: Membership and Activities

In order to establish the chapter, Vanessa Newby submitted a proposal to WIIS Global with an action plan outlining the structure of the organization and the President of WIIS Global, Chantal de Jong Oudraat (who is Dutch), accepted her application. Since then, both a Board and Advisory Council have been appointed. 

WIIS membership is inclusive and open to both women and men who work in international organizations, government, NGOs, think tanks, universities, corporations, and media outlets around the world, as well as aspiring professionals (including students) and the general public. More information on membership will follow in the coming months through their Twitter and Linkedin.

While in its early stages, WIIS Netherlands plans to hold a number of exciting events including round tables/panels and networking events which will give members the opportunity to exchange ideas and expand their own network. By providing a forum, WIIS Netherlands seeks to start a wider conversation about the role of women in international security, identifying coping strategies and stimulating positive change. Dr. Newby states: ‘It’s about awareness. Raising awareness within international security institutions but also among policy makers and the general public.’  To further discussions on this topic, a podcast series is being developed which will feature eminent women in international security in the Netherlands discussing key areas of research. In addition, the WIIS Netherlands chapter will work closely on some events with the Chair of UN Studies in Peace and Justice based at Leiden University and the Hague School of Applied Sciences.

In addition to these activities, a launch event will be held in The Hague, with the exact date to be determined when government measures are relaxed and it is deemed responsible enough to do so.


WIIS-Netherlands (WIIS-NL) is an affiliate of WIIS Global. WIIS-NL Members of WIIS chapters typically include: students, professionals, civil servants, academics, NGOs, employees of international bodies and organizations, embassy staff, politicians and interested members of the general public. The Chapter’s base is Leiden University in The Hague.  The main aim of WIIS-NL is to advance understanding in the Netherlands of the need for greater gender equality in international peace and security . Security is broadly defined as traditional and non-traditional including human security. This aim includes the following objectives:

  • To promote greater gender equality in international peace and security institutions in the Netherlands and Europe including institutions that deal with peace and security.
  • To connect practitioners, policy makers and academics in the Netherlands to achieve this goal
  • To educate and inform general audiences in the Netherlands about international relations and international security through a gendered lens.

The chapter will hold meetings and events during the Academic year (September – June) at Leiden University and other locations in The Hague, the Netherlands.  The chapter will communicate with members through email; its social media presence and the chapter’s webpage to share information on a regular basis.  The WIIS-NL Chapter seeks to provide a structured and regular forum for members based in the Netherlands to explore and discuss the current role women play in international security, the need for greater gender equality in international security, and the political and social changes required to further this goal.

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