The 2023-2027 UK NAP was developed by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and the Ministry of Defense (MOD), and for the first time, includes input from the Home Office, the Ministry of Justice and the Northern Ireland Office. The NAP was developed in collaboration with civil society organizations, academics and parliamentarians. It outlines five strategic objectives that aim to cut across the four pillars of the WPS agenda (prevention, protection, participation and relief and recovery) (p.10). These include: decision-making; gender-based violence; humanitarian and crisis response; security and justice; and transnational threats. It also includes twelve focus countries, three more than the previous NAP (p.35). The NAP outlines a monitoring and evaluation framework that consists of strategic outcomes and draft indicators (p. 11). It does not include an allocated budget, but indicates that government departments fund work on WPS from their core budgets. Within this, the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF) aims to work towards 15% of CSSF fundings being spent on WPS programming (p.36), and £12.5million in new funding being allocated to Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict (PSVI) Programming (p.19).
The UK’s fifth NAP is preceded by four others, adopted in 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018, respectively. Compared to the former iterations, the most recent NAP has adopted a broader approach to transnational threats. In the 2018 NAP, a large focus was preventing and countering violent extremism, however the most recent one expands on this to include climate change, cyber threats, and the proliferation of weapons, specifically Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) (p.29). Despite the commitment to considering gender perspectives across SALW policy, mentions of wider disarmament are missing in this NAP, particularly in reference to the consistent transfer and sale of arms from the UK to the Middle East, and more recently, Ukraine.
Additionally, the NAP attempts to respond to a critique from civil society about the externalization of the WPS agenda, and discusses domestic strategies in more depth compared to former NAPs (p.8). However, it does not develop the operationalisation of a domestic WPS agenda, and the roles of the devolved governments and civil service of Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland, are not clear. While Northern Ireland is explicitly mentioned in the NAP – likely due to its recent history with violent conflict – Scotland and Wales are not cited. The four nations of the United Kingdom also have uneven capacities. England, Scotland and Wales, for example, have Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) strategies, whereas Northern Ireland does not. Saying that, the WPS agenda in Wales and Scotland is not particularly institutionalised, and in Northern Ireland, the Assembly is not currently sitting, meaning that nothing can be adopted into law, nor can any political progress be made regarding WPS. These differences, combined with the fact that those responsible for implementing WPS (the MoD and Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) are London-based, give the impression that the NAP is England-centric, which raises concerns about the prospect of domestic coherence around the plan.
With regards to Northern Ireland, the NAP outlines how the UK seeks to champion and highlight expertise from women peacebuilders in Northern Ireland and continue to support the Women Mediators Across the Commonwealth (WMC) network (p.8, p.15). For context, the most recent history of armed conflict in the UK is the conflict in Northern Ireland, known as “The Troubles”, which occurred between the 1960s and 1990s. The signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 brought an end to it, with women playing a key role throughout the peace process, especially with the participation of the Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition in Track I negotiations. The agreement included a provision of securing women’s rights to full and equal political participation, with a focus on social inclusion, community development and the advancement of women in public life. The contribution of women and women’s organizations to peacebuilding has always been and remains significant, so the endorsement of women peacebuilders in the country is a welcome inclusion in the NAP. Nonetheless, the focus on Northern Ireland without similar attention to issues in Scotland and Wales risks falsely asserting the boundaries of WPS as a “conflict-centered” agenda rather than one that realizes gender equality in everyday life.
The UK is a contributor to overseas military operations, including in Iraq and Sudan. As of 2022, the UK was among the top ten countries in the world for military spending as a share of GDP, as well as being among the top 10 arms exporters. The UK is also a major contributor to humanitarian aid, including being a contributing donor to the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund, a global partnership that works to empower women in conflict zones and humanitarian crises. The UK is also a partner of the Call to Action on Protection from Gender-Based Violence in Emergencies, a multi-stakeholder initiative that aims to mitigate and provide accountability for gender-based violence in humanitarian emergencies. In 2021, the UK was UN Women’s twelfth largest other resources and regular resources contributor, totalling USD $15.1million.
At the multilateral level, the UK is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.
Global Gender Gap Index 2023
15 out of 146
Arms Trade Treaty Ratified
Military expenditure (2022)
53.1 Billion GBP
Explore United Kingdom's National Action Plan
The UK NAP is jointly owned by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and for the first time includes input from the Home Office, the Ministry of Justice and the Northern Ireland Office. It was also developed across government and in collaboration with UK experts from women’s rights organizations, as well as wider civil society, academics and parliamentarians.
The UK takes a whole-of-government approach to WPS. The majority of the UK WPS work is jointly led by FCDO and MOD. Existing UK expertise from the MOD Human Security Advisers and the PSVI Team of Experts will also provide support and guidance (p.11). Relatedly, the UK government will mainstream WPS capability so that there is collective awareness and responsibility across government for policy and programming. This will include a global training offering and investment in research on the gender dynamics of conflict (p.33).
- The UK will also establish strategic partnerships, globally and domestically with civil society, women-led organizations, WROs and women peacebuilders in order to implement the NAP (p.32).
- The UK will provide a cross-government WPS Helpdesk, which is a call-down facility that provides evidence-informed analysis on WPS issues. The aim is that it will support gender-sensitive conflict and security policy and programming, boosting the UK’s capacity to implement its NAP (p.34).
- The UK will take a coordinated and strategic approach to working with like minded countries and partners to respond to belligerent state and non-state actors. It will prioritize bilateral relationships with such countries in order to build a global network to drive forward implementation of the WPS agenda (p.32).
- The UK also looks to build on past efforts on the multilateral stage, prioritizing alliances with NATO, OSCE, the AU and ASEAN, alongside the UN (p.32). These partnerships are intended to diminish the impact of the push back against gender equality and the rights of women.
NAP Monitoring and Evaluation
The UK Government will provide updates to parliament every two years on the NAP delivery plan and will ensure senior representation at the annual WPS APPG session on NAP progress (p.37). This will be supplemented by baseline study of UK WPS activity, with impact evaluations taking place after 1, 2.5, and 5 years. The UK has set out draft indicators but these will be finalized during the baseline evaluation after Year 1 (p.37). The UK Government will work with the WPS All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) and civil society to respond to concerns and scrutiny (p.37).
The Gender Action for Peace and Security (GAPS) UK is the most prominent organization that worked to develop the NAP. It is a membership network of civil society organizations including WILPF UK. Generally, as articulated in their response to the 5th UK NAP, GAPS are pleased to see a more holistic approach adopted in the most recent NAP, but are concerned about implementation because of current government dynamics in the UK. WILPF UK contributed to the NAP process through GAPS UK.
The NAP implementation period is five years (2023-2027).
The 2023-2027 NAP identifies five strategic outcomes which set the vision for the UK WPS implementation strategy. These strategic outcomes have been selected for their contributions to the four pillars of WPS, their relevance across the UK’s broader foreign, development, defence and security policies, the UK’s expertise and influence, and their ability to respond to emerging threats and the current global context. They include:
(1) Decision-making: increasing women’s meaningful participation, leadership and representation in decision-making processes
(2) Gender-based violence: preventing GBV, including conflict-related sexual violence, and supporting survivors to cope, recover and seek justice
(3) Humanitarian and crisis response: supporting the needs of women and girls in crises and ensuring they can participate and lead in responses
(4) Security and justice: increasing the accountability of security and justice actors to women and girls and ensuring they are responsive to their rights and needs
(5) Transnational threats: ensuring response to the needs of women and girls as part of the approach to transnational threats
Strategic outcomes have a comprehensive set of actions assigned. These are outlined in Annex A of the NAP (p. 38-47). It goes through all five strategic objectives, and lists the priority, the commitment, and the organizational lead for the action.
The NAP currently only has draft indicators for each strategic objective, which will be finalized during the writing and publication of the Year 1 report. These indicators are split into ‘departmental’ and ‘focus countries’. Examples of these indicators are below:
- SO1: % of UK diplomatic roles held by a woman; % of peace agreements supported by the UK that secure gender provisions within the agreement or implementation plan; % of women politicians increases as a result of UK political leverage (p.39).
- SO2: Number of people benefiting from GBV prevention or response through FCDO; number of women and girls being supported to access UK funded GBV services by country (p. 41).
- SO3: % of humanitarian programmes with an OECD DAC Gender Marker of 1 or 2; annual UK funding for humanitarian interventions which have been adapted to target women, girls and/including survivors of GBV (p. 42).
- SO4: % of UK security sector projects and programmes, including disarmament and defectors programmes; % of CRSV cases brought forward that lead to successful prosecution under domestic law (p. 43).
- SO5: % of CSSF and NCP cyber programmes accounting for diversity and gender equality considerations; % of programmes that address transnational security threats (p. 45).
For the 2023-2027 NAP, the UK adopts a monitoring and evaluation process that is measured on a two-yearly basis across Government departments. It includes reports to parliament through external assessments. The UK has published draft indicators, but will use the evaluation process in a responsive way through the lifespan of the NAP, remaining open to findings of external reports and adjusting monitoring and evaluation processes as needed.
UK Government departments fund work on WPS from their core budgets, such as the FCO’s Global Britain Fund, and cross-government funds including CSSF. The CSSF aims to work towards 15% of CSSF fundings being spent on WPS programming (p.36), and £12.5million in new funding is being allocated to Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict (PSVI) Programming (p.19).
The NAP minimally references SALW, noting that their diversion and misuse can fuel conflict and crime, with particular impacts on women and girls (p.29). However, there are no wider mentions of disarmament.
The UK NAP is jointly owned by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), Ministry of Defence (MOD) and Department for International Development (DFID), supported by the Stabilisation Unit. It was produced in collaboration with civil society and academics including the Gender Action for Peace and Security (GAPS) network of UK-based NGOs and the LSE Centre for Women, Peace and Security and following in-country civil society consultations in Afghanistan, Burma, Somalia and Syria.
The UK takes a whole-of-government approach to WPS. The majority of the UK WPS work is jointly led by FCO, MOD and DFID with support from the Stabilisation Unit. Diplomatic, development and defence efforts on WPS are led by policy and programme teams in the UK and abroad and monitored by the cross-government Working Group on WPS.
Civil society remain key partners for the UK, particularly GAPS and its partners in-country, including women’s rights organisations and WHRDs.
The UK recognises the importance of coordinated national and multilateral approaches to security in which every actor understands how and why to promote gender equality, and which are gender-sensitive. It will seek reforms that increase coordination between the security sector, GBV service providers and civil society.
The UK will help to support the implementation of existing NAPs in focus countries (Afghanistan, the DRC, Iraq, Nigeria, South Sudan), and it will support the development of NAPs where there is local demand to do so. The UK Government will work with a range of stakeholders in each context, including governments, multilateral organisations, civil society and the private sector to do so.
NAP Monitoring and Evaluation
UK Government activity will be monitored by the cross-government working group on WPS throughout the year in partnership with bilateral and multilateral policy and programme teams, including focus country teams.
Civil society is not mentioned in relation to monitoring and evaluation of the NAP.
WILPF's Contributions to the UK's NAP
As a member of the GAPS Network, WILPF UK was involved in the development of the NAP. The NAP also lists the GAPS Network, as one of the key implementing partners. In 2017, WILPF, Amnesty International UK (AI UK) and the Syrian CSO Women Now for Development (WND) held consultations with Syrian women human rights defenders, gender equality advocates and civil society organisations to reflect and strategise on how best to use the UK NAP to translate the UK government’s WPS commitments into tangibly positive impacts for all women and girls inside Syria, as well as those seeking refuge abroad. As a result of these consultations, WILPF, AI UK and WND frame recommendations on each of the four WPS pillars with the aim of safeguarding and advancing women’s human rights.
The NAP implementation period is five years (2018-2022).
The 2018-2022 NAP identifies seven strategic outcomes which set the vision for the UK WPS implementation strategy in conflict settings. These strategic outcomes have been selected for their contributions to the four pillars of WPS, their relevance across the nine focus countries and the ability of the UK to lead or make a significant contribution on them. These include:
- Decision-making: An increase in women’s meaningful and representative participation and leadership in decision making processes, including conflict prevention and peacebuilding at community and national levels;
- Peacekeeping: A gender perspective is consistently applied in the setting and implementation of international standards and mandates for peace operations;
- Gender-based Violence: An increase in the number and scale of interventions that integrate effective measures to prevent and respond to gender-based violence, particularly violence against women and girls which is the most prevalent form of gender-based violence;
- Humanitarian Response: Women’s and girls’ needs are more effectively met by humanitarian actors and interventions through needs-based responses that promote meaningful participation and leadership;
- Security and Justice: Security and justice actors are increasingly accountable to women and girls, and responsive to their rights and needs.
- Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism: Ensure the participation and leadership of women in developing strategies to prevent and counter violent extremism;
UK Capabilities: HMG continues to strengthen its capability, processes and leadership to deliver against WPS commitments.
Strategic outcomes have no specific actions assigned. The NAP articulates UK’s overall priorities for WPS and provides guiding principles for action, but does not set out a prescriptive list of activities which should be undertaken in order to achieve these strategic outcomes, nor does it capture all of the UK’s contributions to the WPS Agenda.
Internationally recognised indicators serve to maintain a situational awareness of WPS issues in the nine focus countries, to support better analysis, plans and activities, and to deliver the seven strategic outcomes. For example, the progress on the strategic outcome 1 (Decision-making) will be tracked on the basis of the following indicators:
- Proportion of seats held by women in national parliaments and local governments (SDG 5.5.1);
- Percentage of population who believe decision-making is inclusive and responsive, disaggregated by sex, age, disability and population group (SDG 16.7.2);
- Representation of women among mediators, negotiators and technical experts in formal peace negotiations (WPS Indicator 11a).
****The NAP also notes that a report against every indicator in each focus country is not required.
Monitoring and Evaluation
For the 2018-2022 NAP, the UK adopts a more strategic approach to monitoring, evaluation and learning that maintains accountability to Parliament and streamlines reporting for implementing teams. The monitoring, evaluation and learning framework is intended to describe the UK’s contribution to progress toward the strategic outcomes.
UK Government activity will be monitored by the cross-government working group on WPS throughout the year in partnership with bilateral and multilateral policy and programme teams, including focus country teams. Annual reporting to Parliament will reflect UK activity across departments and funding mechanisms covering diplomacy, development and defence and will be used to hold us to account for delivery of the NAP.
UK Government departments fund work on WPS from their core budgets, such as the FCO’s Global Britain Fund, and the cross-government funds including CSSF.
In line with the 2014 International Development (Gender Equality) Act, all development assistance must meaningfully consider the impact on gender equality.
The Government has also committed to spend more than 50% of DFID’s budget every year in fragile states and regions.
All programme portfolios are assigned to include at least one project marked ‘GEM 2’ indicating its principal objective is the promotion of gender equality.
While the NAP refers many times to the entrenchment of harmful gender norms and its impact on women’s lives, disarmament and the impact of arms on women in conflict is not mentioned in the fourth UK NAP. The minimal references to SALW used in the third NAP are no longer present in the latest version.