Press release: New UN Women publication outlines successful modalities for Arab women to participate meaningfully in peace talks

Date: Monday, March 8, 2021

To support women’s access to male-dominated formal peace talks in the Arab States region, UN Women and the Political Settlements Research Programme (PSRP) at the University of Edinburgh set out modalities that women peacemakers can follow to ensure they have their rightful seat at the table.

Cairo, 8 March 2021 - Women are largely underrepresented in peace processes across the world, but there are a number of examples where women have successfully taken a seat at peace negotiations and influenced measures to ensure women’s inclusion in peace processes. UN Women Regional Office for the Arab States and the Political Settlements Research Programme (PSRP) have drawn on these case studies to publish the paper Models for Women’s Inclusion in Track One Mediation in Peace and Transition Processes, setting out modalities that women and gender advocates in the region can adopt in order to access official peace and transition talks. These strategies can also be used by decision-makers and peace-mediators to include women and broaden the representative participation in the talks.

To resolve conflicts and crises, peace practitioners and mediators work on different societal levels or “tracks”. These tracks range from informal peacebuilding initiatives to official peace negotiations. While women in the Arab States region, including in Syria, Libya and Yemen, have managed to contribute to unofficial forms of peace activities and dialogues, their involvement in official peace negotiations and talks has been limited, hindering prospects for inclusive and sustainable peace.

The paper explores four modalities that can be implemented for women to have direct access to formal talks including through 1) a requirement for official negotiation delegations to have women members; 2) the creation of a ‘women’s delegation’ to the talks; 3) the establishment of gender commissions or advisory boards working with the mediator; and 4) the direct access by civil society fora to formal talks. The paper also examines the advantages and disadvantages of each mechanism with a view to improving the practice of gender inclusion and women’s political participation more broadly.

“Twenty years since the adoption of the landmark Security Council Resolution 1325, women around the world still face obstacles in meaningfully accessing peace talks,” says Susanne Mikhail, UN Women Regional Director for the Arab States. “This is particularly unfortunate as evidence tells us that inclusive peace processes and meaningful participation of women leads to longer-lasting peace and more inclusive outcomes. For the Arab region, women´s integration in mediation processes, is therefore a critical part of ensuring a transition towards sustainable peace and accelerated development.”

“Inclusion of women in official talks can only be achieved through a comprehensive strategy that address the many factors that constrain women and hinder their access to political decision-making,” says Christine Bell, Director of PSRP. “Inclusion must be seen a means of expanding official talks to a wider set of actors to deliver meaningful change and sustainable peace.”

Media contacts:

Samer Abu Rass – samer.abu-rass(at)unwomen.org