Resolution 1325 marks the first time that the UNSC affirmed the critical role of women in conflict resolution and peace building. It calls on governments to adopt a gender perspective when implementing peace agreements and stresses the importance of women as full participants in mediation processes.[ii]
Governments have a responsibility to ensure mediation[iii] becomes an inclusive – and therefore effective – process for resolving conflicts, making mediation better understood and more widely used, at all levels of societies and economies. There is one especially impactful, global and inclusive way to discharge that responsibility: devise and execute a National Action Plan to implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.
The link between women’s meaningful involvement and the long-term sustainability of peace agreements has been established. When women are signatories, agreements have been shown not only to be more durable, they also contain a greater number of gender and political reform provisions that are implemented at a higher rate.[iv] Yet many governments still lack the political will to support women in mediation and peacebuilding at regional, national and international levels.
Since Resolution 1325, twenty years and eight subsequent Resolutions have passed. Yet between 1992 and 2018, women made up three percent of mediators and thirteen percent of negotiators in all major peace processes.[v] These statistics are indicative of an international and systemic issue.
National Action Plans
The implementation of Resolution 1325 rests on member states, who are encouraged to develop a National Action Plan (NAP) to determine country specific priorities and government commitments. Out of the UN’s 192 member states, 81 have adopted NAP’s.[vi] Governments need to not only act on developing NAP’s but be accountable for following through on their reassessment and full implementation.
Implementing NAP’s demands governments to meaningfully engage diverse voices from women-driven civil society, non-profit and grassroots organizations, dispute resolution providers and professional bodies, and peacebuilders. Meaningful engagement informs stakeholders how NAP’s can best serve their country-specific contexts and conflicts. Effective NAP’s engage a diversity of women’s groups to inform decision making by taking a bottom-up approach to supporting the women, peace and security agenda.
In addition to developing, reassessing and implementing NAP’s, governments can also support their country representatives to the women’s mediation network in their region.
Global Alliance of Women Mediator Networks
On September 26, 2019, the Global Alliance of Regional Women Mediator Networks met at the United Nations in New York for their inaugural meeting. The Alliance is made up of the four regional networks – FemWise Africa, Nordic Women Mediators, Women Mediators across the Commonwealth and Mediterranean Women Mediators (an Arab Women’s Network is in development). The networks are united by a collaborative effort to enhance and strengthen the meaningful participation of women in peace processes.
At a supra-national level, these networks connect women mediators and peacebuilders, combine their resources, elevate their recognition, and support their peacebuilding efforts. The members of these networks are experienced community, national and international mediators and peacebuilders who work across silos as opposed to in them. Members are the original advocates and champions of Resolution 1325, collaborators of NAP’s within their own and other countries, and are highly skilled and notable practitioners.
Governments, organizations and individual support for the networks and their members via political statements, media recognition, financial backing and stakeholder engagement, validate the importance of having women as lead mediators in peace processes and having parties present at the tables that represent women’s voices and a gender inclusive perspectives on peace agreements.
The Ripple Effect
Women play a vital role in both conflict and peacebuilding. They are conflict actors, wives, mothers, front-line workers and business owners. They are connected to conflict drivers through their understanding of community relationships, structures and power dynamics. This means their perspectives are fundamental to resolution processes and post-conflict recovery, trauma support and ongoing community mediation efforts.
The ripple effect of a purposeful political and structural shift towards gender inclusivity will create a social norm transformation in support of women at all levels in society. This will not only result as women being more often selected as lead mediators for national and international conflicts, but also as community, business, human rights and workplace mediators.
Social acceptance for diversity within the field will ultimately lend itself to each specific field of practice and go beyond gender by achieving an inter-sectional and inter-generational lens.
Greater adoption, implementation and support of the Women, Peace and Security agenda will have a positive impact on peacebuilding worldwide. Peace processes will be more inclusive; agreements will be more sustainable; a higher rate of more holistic agreement provisions will be realized, and local mediation efforts and post-conflict recovery will be strengthened as a result of genuine gender equity.
As we approach the 20th anniversary of Resolution 1325, governments and civil society, as well as all practicing mediators (men, women and people living beyond the binary), must ensure mediation becomes a truly inclusive field of practice. This needs to be achieved by breathing new energy into the design and implementation of NAP’s and active support for the Global Alliance of Women Mediator Networks, whose members are engaged at all levels of society and cross-pollinating fields of practice.
After all, unlocking mediation’s golden age means unlocking gender-inclusive mediation.
[i] Alicia Kuin is a mediator with ADR Chambers and Conflict Management Practitioner for the Director General Alternative Dispute Resolution with the Canadian Federal Government. She has facilitated over 600 processes inclusive of Indigenous, government, human rights, workplace, and academic conflicts. Alicia is a Canadian representative to Women Mediators across the Commonwealth, Fellow of the International Academy of Mediators, and Founder/Former Chair of Mediators Beyond Borders International Canada.
[iii] Mediation and peacebuilding are used synonymously in this paper to acknowledge that resolving conflicts globally includes the work of third party neutrals as well as negotiation advisors, conflict interveners, front line activists, organizers, peace researchers, and the many other forms of pursing peace.
Originally published via Mediate.com on July 10 2020. Republished with permission.