Press release: Women in the MENA region play crucial, yet unrecognized, conflict mediation roles in their communities, a new UN Women report finds


Cairo - Grossly underrepresented in formal conflict mediation processes, women in the MENA region have been instrumental in meditating and resolving conflict in their own communities. Supporting their efforts is essential to peace prospects.    

Many countries across the Arab States region have suffered protracted conflicts that have taken a terrible toll on millions of people, particularly women and girls. Formal mediation efforts to broker peace have largely stalled due to many reasons, including the fragmented and localized nature of these conflicts. Indeed, many of the region’s crises are driven by local dynamics that are often overlooked by formal mediators. Addressing local disputes, concerns, and grievances is thus essential to the success of peace processes.  

Largely excluded from formal mediation roles, women across conflict-affected countries in the Arab region have been instrumental in diffusing tensions and mediating conflicts in their own communities.  UN Women’s new report “Women's Participation in Local Mediation: Lessons from Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen sheds light on the diverse mediation roles women have played to resolve conflict and restore social cohesion in their communities. Drawing on various case studies from the four conflict-affected countries, the report demonstrates how women have mediated ceasefires and a halt to violations against civilians, brokered the release of political prisoners, prevented and resolved tribal conflicts, and engaged in crossline negotiations to secure access to water and other vital resources.  Skillfully navigating social norms, political sensitivities, and security risks, women have initiated and facilitated dialogues between disputing parties and spearheaded inter- and intra-community reconciliation efforts. Yet, their contributions to peace go largely unrecognized. The invisibility and marginalization of women’s efforts mean their work is less documented and understood, posing a challenge for those wishing to support them.

“By documenting women’s mediation efforts, we aim to build greater understanding of and confidence in women’s abilities and identify strategic ways to support women mediators in the region,” says Aleksandra Dier, Regional Advisor for Women, Peace, and Security at UN Women Regional Office for the Arab States.

The new report illustrates how women’s local mediation efforts have addressed issues that the formal peace processes (or Track I) could not, such as the release of political detainees and prisoners of war and the return of the displaced. Women mediators have also raised issues drawn from their own local mediation experiences at the formal negotiation table, such as transitional justice and accountability for human rights violations.

“It is time we heeded the accumulating evidence that women’s active participation in mediation increases both the likelihood of reaching a peace agreement and its successful implementation,” says Susanne Mikhail, UN Women Regional Director for the Arab States. “Crediting women for their achievements is an important first step towards tapping into their conflict mediation potential and increasing prospects for inclusive and lasting peace in the MENA region.”  

The report makes a series of recommendations to support women’s local mediation while stressing the importance of understanding the local contexts where women mediators operate and providing assistance in a way that ensures their safety and security.

To know more, read the full report.  

For more information, please contact

Samer Abu Rass
Email: samer.abu-rass(at)