Women remain dramatically absent from formal peace processes. As of 2015, women made up only 2 percent of mediators, 5 percent of witnesses and signatories, and 8 percent of negotiators in peace processes, reflecting the often exclusive nature of formal peace processes. However, as has been noted in works on peace processes, women are not simply passive while men attempt to forge a peace. Instead, they are active in the informal, or Track II, processes that accompany the formal, or Track I, negotiations. Given high levels of women’s participation in informal processes, connecting these two tracks in peace negotiations is critical to ensuring inclusion of women’s voices in the process. The responsibility of connecting the two tracks rests ultimately with the mediator.
This brief looks at current practices and advances in mediation, including the role of women mediators and emerging women’s mediation networks, and offers recommendations for better incorporating the informal roles that women play in the formal peace processes. It draws on a Chatham House rules convening hosted by the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security in July 2018 to bring together expert mediators, policymakers, peace-process participants, and academics. The meeting was part of the Institute’s ongoing Bridging Theory and Practice series and strove to build connections across expert constituencies in the service of examining women’s involvement in informal peace processes.
This is a vital topic. Women deserve a seat at the formal negotiating table because women deserve representation, and because evidence suggests that more inclusive peace processes with more extensive female engagement are more likely to be durable over time.
- Create a 1325 directive for mediators: Specifically require that mediators include civil society and women at the table and in conversations and that Track I and Track II are formally linked wherever possible. Explore various strategies, including establishing consultative processes for setting the agenda for negotiations, publicly announcing a schedule for civil society consultations during talks, and scheduling briefings of formal negotiating parties by civil society groups and representatives of Track II processes.
- Measure what matters: Create specific benchmarks for UN Security Council missions to measure the quantity and quality of women’s inclusion in Track I and Track II peace processes.
- Create civil society–specific grants: Earmark funds for smaller women’s organizations and civil society organizations in order to meaningfully advance the work of grassroots groups.
- Unite local voices: Coordinate between organizations to create a clear and targeted message so mediators can effectively raise civil society and women organizations’ concerns in mediation proceedings.