Louise Olsson

Research Director

Additional positions:

Senior Researcher

Email: louise@prio.org

Mobile phone: +47 413 65 305

Twitter: @LouiseKOlsson

Research Interests

Louise Olsson's research systematically examines gender equality aspects of armed conflict and its resolution, and it explores the normative developments related to gender mainstreaming and the UN Security Council Resolutions on Women, Peace and Security. In addition, Olsson works to support research-policy dialogue and the effective use of research in policy development and decision-making.

Current projects:

Olsson are working on three projects focusing on the role of elected states in the UN Security Council. One seeks to enhance a research-policy dialogue and the other two research projects seek to better understand how elected states influence the integration and realization of Women, Peace and Security when acting on the Council:

Dialogue Forum for Norway's membership in the United Nations Security Council. In relation to the Norwegian membership in the United Nations Security Council, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in cooperation with the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI)  and PRIO, are organizing a series of thematic roundtable meetings in 2021 and 2022. The roundtable meetings are organized around central themes and issues relating to the Security Council agenda and the Norwegian membership. Each meeting will invite leading researchers and experts within the chosen field with the two-fold aim of expanding the knowledge base and identifying opportunities for Norway in the Security Council. In the spring of 2021, the themes of health and of climate were discussed.

Shattering glass: African Elected Members of the UN Security Council and the Fight for Women, Peace and Security. While previous research has tended to treat the Security Council as a unitary actor, this qualitative project analyses and compares the strategies and actions of a select number of elected states. Thereby, the project strives to capture dynamics related to economic development, contributions to peacekeeping, and roles in regional conflicts and their solution. The project places a particular emphasis on collaborations between younger researchers from the African continent and on public dissemination and dialogue. The project is led by Angela Muvumba Sellström and funded by the Swedish Research Council. It is part of a broader PRIO-Nordic Africa Institute effort to expand our knowledge of the UN Security Council at a time of drastic changes in the geopolitical landscape.

Tracking and analyzing WPS in the Security Council in real time. Are we moving from rhetoric to impactful action by integrating Women, Peace and Security in regular UN Security Council resolutions? This is important as our initial data indicates that WPS language often remains generic and of low priority, thereby negatively affecting the ability to obtain an effect on the ground in conflict areas. To address that problem, this project tracks and analyzes WPS language as resolutions get adopted in 2021 and by back-coding to 2015 when the Global Study and UN Security Council resolution 2242 both underlined the need for in-depth analysis of the Council's own efforts to realize the WPS agenda. Thereby, the novel data provided by this project gives us detailed information about current developments and allows us to develop strategies for effective ways forward.

In addition to analyzing such international developments, Olsson is working on two projects in a collaboration with Uppsala University that study the integration of Women, Peace and Security and gender equality in a national context. One seeks to better understand what these issues practically can entail in the creation of peace with a focus on peace agreements and their implementation. The other tries to support the development of a better understanding of what Women, Peace and Security and gender equality can mean for efforts to maintain peace at the time of the reestablishment of a Total defense in Sweden:

From Hopeful Agreements to Disillusioned Peace? The effects of peace agreement implementation on women’s security and empowerment (2018-2021 with Erika Forsberg and Karen Brouneus, Uppsala University). This project combines a global study tracking gender aspects in a set of peace processes, with in-depth analysis of Colombia, including both survey and focus group data. Funded by the Swedish Research Council.

Women, peace, and security in the defense of Sweden (2019-2021, located at Uppsala University). With the return to a focus on national defense, issues regarding the protection and resilience of the population are increasingly discussed. This, in turn, raises important questions about the role of gender equality and the norm on Women, Peace and Security in a national defense and security context. The report Toward an enhanced analysis of the human terrain in Sweden: Men’s and women’s willingness to defend, mobilization, resilience, and safety in the context of National Defense presents research, statistics, pedagogical material, and recommendations on how to enhance the analysis of a national context by incorporating issues related to variations between men and women when it comes to willingness to defend, mobilization, resilience, and safety, further incorporating interactions regarding other conditions, such as age and socio-economic background. The project was funded by the Swedish Armed Forces. 

Finally, Louise Olsson leads two projects that studies women's inclusion, gender equality dynamics, and Women, Peace and Security in relation to military organizations:

- Should I stay or Should I go? (2020-2023 with co-project leader Chiara Ruffa, and researchers Erik Melander, and Sara Lindberg-Bromley, Uppsala University). The project asks: What determines if women choose to leave or to stay employed in a male-dominated organization? Addressing that question is key for being able to establish a more gender-equal workplace. Drawing on novel qualitative and quantitative material, this interdisciplinary project therefore aims to advance our knowledge on what factors affect the retention of female personnel. Funded by the Swedish Research Council on Health, Working Life and Welfare.

Reducing Barriers for Women in the Norwegian Armed Forces' Peacekeeping Contributions (2020-2021 with the Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance (DCAF) and Sabrina Karim at Cornell University). The aim of the project is to assess the relative importance of ten different barriers for women and men's deployment to international military missions. This will allow for evidence-based policy recommendations that can contribute to the Norwegian Armed Forces' ongoing efforts nationally, and to Norway's international credibility in advancing equal opportunities and the Women, Peace, and Security Agenda. Other countries contributing to the international project led by DCAF and Cornell University of which the Norwegian case-study is part, are Bangladesh, Ghana, Jordan, Mongolia, Senegal, Uruguay, and Zambia. Funded by DCAF.


Olsson got her PhD from Uppsala University in 2007 with the thesis Equal Peace. United Nations Peace Operations and the Power-Relations between men and women in Timor-Leste (published by Brill 2009). She is the editor of several special issues of international research journals, the latest also being published in the book Gender, Peace and Security: Implementing UN Resolution 1325 (Routledge 2015).

Prior to taking up her position at PRIO, Olsson was the Senior Advisor to the Director General at the Folke Bernadotte Academy (FBA), Sweden. Before that, she served as the Head of the Women, Peace and Security Program at FBA between 2011-2015. A central part of her work at FBA was to enhance research-policy dialogue and to create and lead a Research Working Group on Women, Peace and Security consisting of international scholars. The aim was to promote systematic empirical research of relevance for the implementation of the UN resolutions (2009-2018).

As a Senior Advisor, Olsson also worked with strategic organizational development on inclusivity and gender mainstreaming, and with policy support. For example, Olsson has supported the work with the Swedish National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security and has led evaluation teams analyzing how NATO's military operations and EU's civilian missions address the Women, Peace and Security agenda. 

Olsson has substantial pedagogical experience and has been involved in education and training for a broad range of audiences. For example, she has taught at the undergraduate and graduate levels and has been the Director of Studies at the Department of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University. As regards policy-related training, Olsson has served as a coach on gender equality and Women, Peace and Security at a Gender Coach Program, which is a training program for senior management, organized by the Swedish Armed Forces. There she has acted as the coach to the Supreme Commander of the Swedish Armed Forces (2015-17), to the Head of Joint Operations (2019-20), and to the Head of the Military Intelligence and Security Directorate (2013). She has also collected some of her experiences in organizing such a leader training course in 2013 in the policy paper Gender Training for Leaders written together with Major Anna Björson (published by Georgetown University).

Olsson began her career in 1999 by contributing to the UN project Mainstreaming a Gender Perspective in Multidimensional Peace Operations which held its final workshop in Windhoek in May 2000.

Former projects:

Inequality and insurgency in India: a disaggregated analysis of the link between gender inequality and armed conflict (2015-2018. With Erika Forsberg, Uppsala University). By combining fieldwork with statistical analysis of new micro-level data on India’s 640 districts, this project sought to improve our understanding of the mechanisms behind gender inequality and violent conflict. Funded by the Swedish Research Council.

Disciplining Fighters: Understanding Armed Political Actors’ Control of Sexual Violence (2016-2019. With Angela Muvumba-Sällström, Uppsala University). This project studied why and how diverse types of armed groups, with their varied agendas, motivations, institutions and gradations of sociality during wartime, create preventive cultures and pathways. Funded by the Swedish Research Council

- Sweden in the UN Security Council: Making Women, Peace and Security Core Council Business? (2019-2020) The objective of this first joint PRIO-Uppsala University/Nordic Africa Institute project was to increase our knowledge on the role of an elected member in two respects: 1) It provided insights into a) the assessments and decisions involved in forming the elected member’s aims and strategy, and b) the tactical manoeuvring of the conditions which affect an elected member’s efforts to promote WPS within the UNSC’s responsibilities and processes. 2) It demonstrated a) how the effects of an elected member’s actions on the WPS trajectory can be understood, and b) outline a model for assessing progress on integration into UNSC’s responsibilities. Funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and FBA.

Equal Peace? Women’s Empowerment and Multicultural Challenges in War-to-Peace Transitions (2018. With Inger Skjelsbæk and Torunn L. Tryggestad, PRIO.) Olsson contributed with a study of women mediator networks (with Anna Möller-Loswick, and Camilla Riesenfeld at FBA) and with a chapter on the production of the Global Study to the Oxford Handbook on Women, Peace and Security (with Ismene Gizelis, University of Essex).

Latest publications

All publications

Patty Chang & Louise Olsson (2023)
Women, Peace and Security in Decisions on International Peace and Security: Trajectory and Quality of Integration in UN Security Council Resolutions, 2015–2021

GPS Policy Brief

Juan Diego Duque, Erika Forsberg & Louise Olsson (2022)
Implementing Gender Provisions: A Study of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro in the Philippines

Journal Article in International Negotiation: a Journal of Theory and Practice

Louise Olsson (2022)
Peacekeeping operations and women’s security

Book Chapter in Handbook on Peacekeeping and International Relations

Jana Krause & Louise Olsson (2022)
Women’s Participation in Peace Processes

Book Chapter in Contemporary Peacemaking: Conflict, Violence and Peace Processes

Anna Marie Obermeier & Louise Olsson (2022)
The UN Security Council and Women’s Full, Equal and Meaningful Participation: Data on Invited Briefers to Council Deliberations, 2015–2021

GPS Policy Brief

Roudabeh Kishi & Louise Olsson (2022)
Violence Targeting Women in Politics: Implications for the UN Security Council

GPS Policy Brief

Louise Olsson & Madhav Joshi (2021)
War termination and women's political rights

Journal Article in Social Science Research

Niels Nagelhus Schia, Louise Olsson & Ida Rødningen (2021)
Global helse og internasjonal fred og sikkerhet – implikasjoner for FNs sikkerhetsråd?

Journal Article in Internasjonal politikk

Louise Olsson & Erika Forsberg (2021)
Examining Gender Inequality and Armed Conflict at the Subnational Level

Journal Article in Journal of Global Security Studies

Patty Chang, Louise Olsson & Angela Muvumba Sellström (2021)
Advancing Women, Peace and Security in the UN Security Council: Critical Choices for Elected Member States

Popular Article in IPI Global Observatory

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