New initiative: Network of female mediators

Published 2 October 2015 in:

International women’s day – students and participants in Monrovia ready themselves for a march to raise awareness concerning the slow trial times of the countries rape, and gender based violence.

The Folke Bernadotte Academy (FBA), a Swedish government agency, has been given the assignment to create a network of female mediators. It serves as a part of Sweden’s Feminist Foreign Policy and Sweden’s commitment to the implementation of UN SCR 1325 (2000). The network will be international with a Swedish core.

In the coming two years, a network of female mediators will be established and cooperation will take place with female mediation networks from the global south. The aim is to increase the number of women in mediation and facilitation and to be able to support peace processes around the globe.

The planning phase has begun and there is already great interest in the network. This reflects the great need and the fact that it is a sought after capacity. The FBA is excited to lead the way in concrete action of the Feminist Foreign Policy implementation, as well as the global commitment made to women, peace and security.
Fifteen years has passed since a global commitment to women, peace and security was made in the form of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000).

The adoption of the resolution is a global commitment to the inclusion of women. In June 2011, the UN General Assembly approved the first resolution (65/283) on peace mediation. The resolution encourages to strengthen the position of women in conflict resolution efforts. Still women are underrepresented at the peace table where decisions about the future are made – either as negotiating parties or as mediators.

We can no longer say, if it was ever a valid argument, that there are no competent women in mediation. Women have demanded peace in processes like in Liberia. They have negotiated as parties as for example in the Philippines and Kenya and served as mediators and negotiators in places like Ukraine and Angola.

Despite this, research show that 1992-2011 only 2 % of chief mediators and 9 % of negotiators in peace processes were women. In order to shift the numbers, attitudes need to change and more women need to be appointed as mediators or as part of mediation teams.

Neither is it an argument to say that the peace needs to be dealt with first and then ‘women’s issues’. Women’s perspectives need to be included from the onset in order for the peace to be sustainable. Peace can only be had when the entire population and their needs are accounted for. Negotiations have traditionally focused on the warring or political parties, where women are either not a part or underrepresented. Studies show that the participation of women at all levels is key. All need to be represented in a peace processes. Both at the table physically but also in the types of questions discussed and points agreed. If all perspectives are not taken into account, how can we expect the peace to last?

Sven-Eric Söder
Director General at Folke Bernadotte Academy