Women Mediators across the Commonwealth (WMC) will include at least 50 women peacebuilders from diverse backgrounds and geographic locations across commonwealth countries, who play a role in mediating conflicts. This includes both mediating conflicts within communities, and as part of official peace processes at national and international levels.
Zainab Hawa Bangura, a former Minister of Foreign Affairs in Sierra Leone with nearly 30 years’ experience in the field of conflict resolution, is one of the first members of the network:
I’ve travelled around the world and I’ve seen the strength within women, the wonders women can do and what they can achieve given the right support and experience. We are bringing experts from all over the world, and putting them together to share their experiences and to learn from each other. All conflicts are different, but the consequences are the same.
The aim is to create a sustainable network of women of different ages, ethnicities, faiths, experience levels and (dis)abilities, who are able to respond to and prevent conflict based on their local knowledge and geographic experience.
The project, which is funded by the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office, will provide training, peer-to-peer mentoring and higher education opportunities for the women of the network. It will also support the grassroots peacebuilding and mediation work undertaken by women within commonwealth countries in the Pacific, South Asia, West Africa and East Africa.
Mossarat Qadeem is a member of the network, and co-founder of the PAIMAN Alumni Trust, an organisation working to prevent and counter violent extremism in Pakistan:
Since time immemorial women have been engaged in mediation - the worth and the agency of women as effective mediators needs to be recognised and valued today, and I think this forum is so important for that. I joined this group of women because I think it is important for women like us, who have been working at the local level, to link that local experience and expertise to the global level.
In order to influence and learn from international policy and best practice, the network will connect with existing mediation and other networks, collate learning from women mediators and organise global events including a WMC biannual meeting.
Network member Elizabeth Solomon is the Executive Director of the Dispute Resolution Centre of Trinidad and Tobago:
What is different about this network is that it is global. It is not tied to a geographic region, and that means there is the possibility for a lot more exchange of expertise and experiences. The opportunities for learning and sharing will be quite unique.
As well as Elizabeth Solomon, Mossarat Qadeem and Zainab Hawa Bangura, the initial members of the network also include Meredith Preston McGhie and Neha Sanghrajka from the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue.