posted by Jessica Tallman
The importance of women and mediation seems obvious in this day and age. The actual amount of women involved in international mediation and peacekeeping efforts are still significantly low. This comes as a surprise to many since the field of mediation has been growing. A study done in 2011 of the previous 10 years claimed that only two percent of chief mediators in the UN were women (UN Women 2012). Since then, this issue has been recognized through several group efforts to encourage and promote the inclusion of women in more high level mediations as well as other forms of participation in the peacekeeping process. One may ask, why is it so important for women to be involved in mediations? The reason is simple; without an all-encompassing view on the issue at hand, a suitable solution may not arise for all parties involved. The female voice needs to be heard to ensure equality in global mediation.
In year 2000 the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (UNSCR 1325) was launched by The UN Department of Political Affairs (DPA) with the Women’s Peace and Security Policy (WPS) which called for gender perspective to better understand the need for women and girls during conflict, and other peacekeeping and post conflict mediations. In 2010 a monitoring and reporting system was put in place with targets for 2015 and 2020 to promote the SCR 1325 as the numbers were not rising. In 31 of the major peace processes in the past twenty years, only nine percent of the negotiators were women. Keep in mind, there is not a lack of competent women; the acknowledgment of the need has simply not been present.
What is being done about this issue?
- Since the beginning of the SCR 1325 many countries have begun their own National Action Plan (NPA) regarding this policy. Denmark was the first in 2005 along with Sweden, Norway and the UK in 2006. Spain followed in 2007 along with many other countries from then until now. As of May 2016 there are 60 nations who have created a national action plan under UNSCR 1325 and more are on their way.
- In 2014 the Swedish Government declared itself to be the first feminist government in the world and launched a policy which promotes women’s rights and participation in central decision-making processes, including peacebuilding and negotiations. From this policy, a network of women peace mediators has been created called the Folke Bernadotte Academy (FBA) who are also part of the Nordic Women mediation network. Their objective is of course, to increase the number of female mediators in peace processes and have been inspired by South Africa who initiated the first African Women Mediators Network previously.
Last year in December, the Swedish Foreign Minister, Margot Wallstrom presented the network as a tool to strengthen women’s participation and therefore no longer allows the excuse that there are not enough qualified women ready for mediation assignments. The network has since been promoting and encouraging their group of relevant, qualified and prepared female mediators.
- Just this month a negotiation and mediation skills workshop was held for local society groups and women leaders in Bagdad. Organized by the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and UN Women, this workshop called for, again, more female participation in future mediation and reconciliation efforts. Dr. Paulina Chiwangu, a representative for UN Women in Iraq welcomed the recommendations from the speaker at the trainings, Gyorgy Busztin, and agreed to implement the National Action Plan 1325 and hopes to continue to promote a culture of peace including the participation of women mediators in the local communities.
- Coming up, there is a conference in Oslo on October 27th 2016, where Dr. Joyce Neu, Founder and Senior Associate of Facilitating Peace will speak regarding the issue of Gender and Inclusive Peace Processes. You can find more information here: https://www.prio.org/Events/Event/?x=8469
There is still more progress to be made on an international level to include more women in Mediation efforts. However, the dialogue has been ongoing and changes are being made. The involvement of women in negotiations, peace keeping and peace building missions are not only a gender issue but also a global issue of inequality that needs to be solved for a more sustainable future.