Mission: to make it the norm that women are present in peace talk
Women are leading a new perspective on peace building. Where they have actively participated in ending conflict and developing post conflict constitutions, they have laid the foundations for more equitable transitional settlements and longer lasting peace. Yet despite the growing evidence of their efficacy, and that they constitute half of almost every nation, of the 24 major peace processes since 1992 fewer than 3% had women signatories and only 7.6 % had any female negotiators. Ninety Five percent of defence policy makers and negotiators are male. The mission is to undertake in-depth research in collaboration with international and local women’s organizations to understand and profile the skills women need in these roles. With this understanding develop teams of suitably qualified and representative women who will be sustained by mentors and training programs. Campaigning to ensure their inclusion in peace negotiations is key and will involve high level dialogue, press and public engagement and NGO support in holding governments to account. Our work will be building one of the essential pillars needed for the creation of national Infrastructures for Peace, a systematic and holistic peace architecture built at all levels to prevent violent conflict. Initial work will focus on Ghana, Kenya, South Sudan, Egypt, Libya and Nepal.
Rationale: Women and men are affected differently by conflict
In the last two decades conflicts have been fought significantly among civilian populations, with civilians being by far the greatest casualties. As the nature of conflict has changed and citizens are demanding to have their needs represented, the short-term formula of men with guns or politicians being the main arbiters of any peace deal is increasingly recognized as exclusive, flawed and outdated. Women’s inclusion in formal peace processes is the strongest determinant of attention to gender issues in the ensuing political, legal, social and economic reconstruction of that society. Here is an immense untapped resource in stabilizing fragile states. Unlocking women’s agency offers a great opportunity to dismantle outdated, unequal structures and bring positive change.
The work of About time: Women at every peace table is divided into different stages. We will develop lists of key women peace workers, existing policy makers and organizations, creating detailed profiles for the project countries of interest to create a useful reference database and to contextualize each country. As networking and sharing constitute a fundamental part of our strategy, we will do this in partnership with key international and local women’s organisations, to ensure the lists are representative and comprehensive and then work with them to develop adequate strategies to ensure their acceptance in peace negotiations.As we aim at being a convening force that brings women, organizations and key stakeholders together to share experience and best practice, we will organize Multi Stake-holders Dialogues, which will offer the opportunity to develop and implement coherent strategies for the inclusion of women at all stages of peace processes.
The overriding methodology for this project is to be collaborative, innovative and grounded in experiential learning. We aim at working generously with others to generate a level of support for women in policy roles to change the dynamics of peace building. The organizations currently include UN Women, UNIFEM, Global Fund for Women, WomanKind Worldwide, the Institute for Inclusive Security, International Alert’s Gender and Peace building Programme and GAPS UK (Gender Action for Peace and Security), with many more to be added from other disciplines.
Projected outcome by 2016
To ultimately change the current dynamics of peace processes and make it the norm that representative and qualified women are included in peace talks so that female experience can be taken into account in decisions affecting peace and security.
Elena Pagallo, MA in International Relations and MA in Conflict Studies, assisted by Inge Relph, specialist in corporate strategy, former Chair of Womankind Worldwide, Director of the Arab International Women’s Forum and founder member of GAPS – UK.