This past March 2018, the CEO of the Ban Ki-moon Centre Monika Froehler participated in the inaugural meeting of regional women mediators’ networks in Oslo, Norway. The gathering brought together members from the already established womens’ networks, including the Nordic Women Mediators Network (est. 2015), FemWise-Africa (est. 2017), and the Mediterranean Women Mediators Network (est. 2017). They were joined by representatives from the UN Secretary-General’s High Level Advisory Board on Mediation and UN entities including the Executive Office of the Secretary-General, the Department of Political Affairs and UN Women. In addition, representatives from the African Union (AU), the European Union (EU), the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), as well as members of the Commonwealth Secretariat, civil society and academia, took part in the meeting to discuss the vital role of women in peace processes.
17 years have passed since the adaption of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security. Since its adaption, the positive and decisive role played by women in peace processes has been widely acknowledged by the international community. The inclusion of women has been shown to be crucial, not only in matters of women’s rights, but also to improve operational effectiveness, build resilience, prevent and resolve conflicts, and to sustain peace. Despite this widespread knowledge supported by evidence and robust research, women remain drastically underrepresented in peace and security talks.
The gathering discussed ways to increase the representation of women in peace and security processes. The Nordic Women Mediators Network hosted the meeting along with the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Norwegian Centre for Conflict Resolution (NOREF), and the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO). Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide, UN Under-Secretary-General Ana Maria Menendez, Nobel Peace Laureate Leymah Gbowee, and former UN Under-Secretarty-General Noeleen Heyzer, all spoke at the event.
All attendees agreed to continue working together to promote the inclusion of women in peace processes by seeking-out synergies and looking into the option of creating a global network of women mediators. As a first step towards the goal of creating an alliance of regional women mediator networks, an initial contact group was formed.
Summarizing the goals and aspirations of the group, the Norwegian Foreign Minister Søreide stated,
“It is my hope that this initiative will contribute to progress in this field, and that the next reports of the Secretary-General on women, peace and security will show an increase in women’s participation in mediation, and an increase in women’s influence in peace processes.”