Women mediating conflict from the grassroots to the negotiating table
Eighteen years ago, on 31 October, the UN Security Council reaffirmed the vital role women play in the prevention of conflicts, with resolution 1325 on women, peace and security. Reams of research and evidence* have proved that peace processes that include women are more likely to succeed and be sustainable – but too often the work of these women goes unrecognised.
Peace processes can only be truly effective if they are inclusive of the many people affected by conflict, and mediation has a key role to play in creating opportunities for this inclusion. Through our work, we seek to promote and improve the effectiveness of mediation and dialogue, as a means to end violent conflict and work towards peace.
This year, we helped establish Women Mediators across the Commonwealth (WMC) – an innovative new network which links women working in mediation across the globe. This week WMC will be organising and taking part in events in New York to celebrate the anniversary of this UN commitment, and to call for more to be done to ensure women around the world have the opportunities to be successful mediators.
To us, mediation is not only about participating in official peace talks. Just as important, is the mediation and dialogue taking place in local communities around the world. Women who are bringing together conflicting groups or convincing armed fighters to lay down arms. Here, we celebrate the diverse roles women play in mediation, from the grassroots to the negotiating table.
In the Philippines, the peace process between the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), provides many lessons for women’s meaningful participation in peace. Women played leading roles in both peace panels, the facilitating team and civil society organisations.
Miriam Coronel-Ferrer was Chair of the government peace panel during formal negotiations with the MILF. The Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), which provides for the creation of a self-governing entity known as the Bangsamoro, was the first peace agreement ever negotiated and signed by a woman. Read our interview with Miriam.
The Ebola epidemic that struck West Africa four years ago impacted every section of society. As the primary care-givers and traders, women were often the most exposed to the disease, and therefore the stigma that surrounded it. Often it was also women peacebuilders who played a vital role in helping to mediate between ostracised women and their communities – enabling them to safely return to their homes.
In this film hear from the women affected by the virus, and the women peacebuilders who helped rebuild communities.
In Northern Ireland, mediation at a range of levels was key in forging progress and finding workable solutions. In a politically and socially divided society, a group of Northern Irish women became a channel for cross-community cooperation. The Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition promoted an inclusive, cooperative peace process, put women’s active participation on the political map and brought a strong civil society voice to the negotiations.
Read more about them in our Accord Insight publication Women Building Peace.
Central African Republic
In the Central African Republic, young peacebuilder Emma visits the camps of armed groups. By mediating with the groups’ commanders, she helps young people to leave the camps and turn away from violence:
Today, there is permanent contact and dialogue with the armed groups. Ex- Séléka don’t move around the streets with their arms anymore.
* Political Power-sharing and Inclusion: Peace and Transition Processes - Christine Bell, Political Settlements Research Programme
* Preventing Violence Through Inclusion: From Building Political Momentum to Sustaining Peace - Thania Paffenholz, Andreas Hirblinger, Dana Landau, Felix Fritsch, and Constance Dijkstra, Inclusive Peace and Transition Initative
* Toward Inclusive Peace: Mapping Gender-Sensitive Peace Agreements 2000-2016 - Katrina Lee-Koo and Jacqui True, Monash University