This publication provides mediation teams and organisations with ideas, options and strategies for embedding gender-inclusivity in their peacemaking efforts.

Essential points for practitioners

  • The relationship between gender inequalities, armed violence, and violent conflict cannot be ignored. Inclusive political analysis enables greater identification of these linkages, and options for addressing them.
  • Mediation strategies that systematically integrate gender perspectives, interrogate gender power dynamics, and include women in substantive roles can contribute to a more credible and, arguably, more sustainable peace.
  • Effective gender inclusion in peacemaking demands the dismantling of bias and the transformation of patriarchal logic and systems, which are also damaging and restrictive to many men as well as sexual, gender and other minorities. This requires transparent long-term commitments and the allocation of appropriate resources (financial and human), as well as more diverse and accountable leadership of mediation organisations.
  • Incremental inclusion is, at best, an ineffective tactic and, at worst, a successful blocking strategy that consolidates gender inequality. Peacemaking tends to start with a narrow, elite maledominated group of conflict parties and mediators who establish the logic of women’s exclusion early on by using a discourse of promised inclusion at a ‘later’, ‘better’ stage. This promise is rarely realised.
  • Taking a layered approach to identifying powerholders and influencers is a fundamental starting point for more inclusive process design. This entails ‘finding’ women who are active in public life at various layers and sectors of society, not just at the elite levels.
  • Agile funding mechanisms at the country level can enable women’s participation in decision-making and decision-shaping events or learning opportunities, and lower practical barriers to inclusion.
  • To move beyond male-dominated networks and referral pools, mediation entities should reassess recruitment strategies, draw on networks of women experts and issue regular calls for feminist analysts on relevant countries and topics.
  • Ensure zero-tolerance of sexism and sexual harassment within mediation organisations. Invest in credible reporting channels.
  • Make co-mediation by women and men routine as this can contribute to gender parity and may lead to more consideration of gender perspectives.
  • Implement quotas, with appropriate support for women at all levels of a peace process including implementation mechanisms: without decisive interventions to disrupt male dominance of decision-making, women will struggle to reach a critical mass to shape, influence and set political agendas. Each effort to do this, even when not accepted by the parties, helps women move closer to a tipping point.
  • Bring women together before formal workshops, dialogue sessions and other meetings as this provides space for women to prepare to navigate male-dominated spaces where other hierarchies and cultural restrictions may also inhibit their participation.
  • Aim for specific gender-responsive commitments in peace agreements wherever possible. These specify who will undertake the action, at what levels, and for what purpose. Frame any budgetary allocation as a minimum so that it can be expanded over time.