Mediazione e politiche di genere
OSLO forum 2008 – The OSLO forum Network of Mediators
of how those young men came to be in that situation, how they perceive themselves in regard
to their families and communities and what can practically be done through family, community,
government, or international intervention to assist them to ﬁnd a place in a peaceful society.
That too, is a gendered analysis.
The problem Ahtisaari sees is lack of foresight, or, less kindly, laziness: if a mediation team
and negotiation teams are pulled together in a hurry, and identifying critical women leaders
or groups has not already been considered, then the chances are it won’t be, or it will be
done badly. But, he argues, what is to prevent research and reconnaissance in advance,
in a period where dialogue seems imminent, about who might be the female leaders to
include, or groups to consult? There is no argument anymore, he says, for saying there’s not
enough time. It is true that women may be organised in different ways (not only, for example,
in accessible ‘women’s coalitions’ but in looser networks based on any number of shared
concerns), and thus slightly harder to track down; but there are very few places where for
the price of a few intelligent questions, formal or informal women leaders or groups cannot
be unearthed – alongside all sorts of other information which a mediation team might ﬁnd
valuable. For example, the women’s health network in Nepal has provided a valuable means of
communication with rural communities on issues ranging far beyond health concerns.
Fears expressed by other mediators that focusing on involving women might slow down a
process to the extent that more civilians (in particular women and children) might be put at
risk, can of course be applied to all arguments about broader inclusion. If the intelligence
gathering and foresight suggested by Ahtisaari could be brought to bear, this narrowly
utilitarian argument would have no signiﬁcant purchase. It also belies the current thinking that Section
the process is in many ways more important than the product. 2
Identity confusion and men’s gender identity in conﬂict Background
The discussion above on understanding stability hints at the interesting question of the identity
issues faced by men and women in conﬂict, challenging them to establish, often publicly,
whether their ﬁrst loyalty is to political party, ethnic group, religious group, or – though rarely in
the case of men – gender group. An understanding of this is not just interesting psychology for papers
the peace-process actor, but critical to working out how people are to ﬁt back into a society no
longer in conﬂict.
Even, or perhaps especially, in highly developed and sophisticated situations like the Middle
East, there can be confusion about whether women are lobbying to have women’s concerns
represented at talks, or to have their own organisation present. This is exempliﬁed by the
positions taken by the International Women’s Commission for a Just and Sustainable Israeli–
Palestinian Peace in their approach to the recent Annapolis talks. A Northern Irish community
mediator recently recounted, ‘I’ve always thought of myself as an Irish Catholic woman, in that
8 A body made up in principle of one-third Israeli women, one-third Palestinian women, and one-third high-level international
OSLO forum 2008 – The OSLO forum Network of Mediators 9
order, and I now realise that has deﬁned how I have approached my life and my work’ . By
contrast, the Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition (NIWC) deﬁnes itself by nationality ﬁrst, then
gender, but not, of course, by religion. This identity conundrum is a problem of human nature,
and of politics. Men share the same problems around ethnicity, religious and political afﬁliation,
and nationality, but have not been burdened by the need to place their gender in that list as
well, or, therefore, have their loyalty or competence questioned on those grounds.
The problem men face is that, while their gender does not necessarily bar them from having
a say in peace negotiations (although all sorts of other political and socio-economic factors
may do so), very few peace-process actors give psychology the weight they accord to politics.
There is a growing literature about masculine identities and linkages with conﬂict and
violence, suggesting that men need more assistance in adapting from a war psychology to
one of peace. This is true for both leaders and others, especially given the roles that societies
at war can ascribe to ﬁghters and leaders. No one is surprised, while everyone is appalled, by
the apparently inevitable spike in domestic violence in a post-conﬂict period. In today’s Liberia,
10–15 rapes of women and children are reported every week, which is strongly suggestive of
signiﬁcantly higher actual rates. Peace brokers and implementers need to ensure space to care
for the victims, to protect them and others from future attack, and to ensure accountability, but
also to address the problems of identity confusion, shame, marginalisation, trauma or post-
traumatic stress, misdirected pride and aggression which lead the perpetrators to act violently.
And, as just demonstrated, a gender-sensitive analysis is required to spell this out.
Walking the walk: how women contribute substantive issues
The greater problem here is whether those women who do get access to live negotiations are
papers well organised, focused and trained or supported enough to bring the right issues to bear at
the right time in a process. An individual closely engaged in the recent Kenya talks expressed
Background frustration that, while the consultations with women’s groups were extensive, prioritised
precisely because of the presence of high-level women on the advisory panel, and while their
early contributions were rich and valuable, the quality of their inputs declined at the later stage
in the talks when detailed, technical inputs were required. At this point they seemed to focus
2 disappointingly on the one goal of female presence at the talks. A recent study on justice issues
in Liberia suggested that the advocacy of some women’s groups centred on keeping talks
alive, without speciﬁc platform or purpose.
Much more valuable, discussants suggested, is speciﬁc, substantive advocacy on critical
issues relevant to the peace process, and all of which have interesting and important gender
dimensions. Regular female civilians, women ex-combatants, prisoners or ex-prisoners, victims
of sexual violence, displaced and refugee women, and the single-female-headed households,
which are one of the most common and poignant products, especially of prolonged conﬂicts,
have particular needs relating to DDR, land rights, employment opportunities and community
9 Workshop participant at European Mediation Conference, Belfast, April 2008.
10 Barker, Gary, Routledge, 2005; ‘Hitting the Target: Men and Guns’,
Dying to be Men: Youth, Masculinity and Social Exclusion,
Review Conference Policy Brief, Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, June 2006 (for The United Nations Conference to Review
Progress Made in the Implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small
Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects).
11 Hayner, Priscilla, Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, 2007.
Negotiating Peace in Liberia: Preserving the Possibility for Justice,
However, this paper also describes examples of women’s ability to bring the reality – and urgency – of the conﬂict to peace-
60 table delegates. OSLO forum 2008 – The OSLO forum Network of Mediators
reintegration, for example. All these groups also have a bearing on the nature of post-conﬂict
security and police forces and other key institutions such as the judiciary. Traditionally such
issues and institutions have not included women or their speciﬁc needs, or recognised that
their ability to access their rights and services is frequently constrained by national law, culture
and practice, especially in less developed, war-torn societies.
To expand on one example, that of DDR, as an illustration: women may have been combatants
but not registered as such, and hence they are not eligible for DDR programmes. Even where
female ex-combatants are registered at national level, experience in El Salvador (where 30%
of the combatants were women), for example, has shown they are still barred from accessing
DDR-related beneﬁts at local level because they are women. Women ex-combatants (or indeed
camp residents) have different health needs, in particular reproductive and sexual health, and
require separate provision for sanitation in, for example, cantonment situations. There is also
the question of skill loss, where valuable technical and leadership skills gained during conﬂict
are lost when women are required to return to solely traditional roles (which they themselves
may not want). Additionally, it is not uncommon for male ﬁghters to ‘marry’ several times during
conﬂicts, creating legal and welfare issues about the status and support of multiple families.
Technical advocacy on these issues will be most useful if it can prioritise the extent to which
details need to be included a peace agreement, or can be developed under the implementation
phase, to avoid over-freighting an agreement with exhaustive detail. While several of the
mediators interviewed for this paper felt that there was still room for expressing some of the
critical concerns of women in peace agreements themselves (over and above their normal
inclusion in standard phrases relating to the care of vulnerable populations), no one argued Section
that the detailed substance of an actual peace agreement outweighed the process itself in its
importance for the eventual outcome. 2
There are, however, some positive examples of substantive advocacy on gendered issues.
Northern Ireland is often cited as an example of a peace process that had at least some
pretensions to gender sensitivity. This is not attributable, as it rarely is, to those in charge of
the process as either mediators or principal parties, but essentially to politically active women papers
themselves who famously formed a cross-party coalition (the NIWC) that was able to secure
through election two delegate seats at the talks that led to the Good Friday Agreement. Their
achievements, apart from mere survival in an atmosphere, which at the outset was clearly toxic
in its male chauvinism, included demonstrating that cross-party unity on key peace issues
was possible. The coalition also ensured the inclusion in the agreement of provisions related
to critical issues for reconciliation and peacebuilding, such as integrated social-service and
12 Anderlini, Sanam and Conaway, Camille, The Initiative for
Inclusive Security (www.huntalternatives.org) contains a rich collection of discussions of this kind on the gendered aspects of
various key issues in peacemaking, such as conﬂict prevention and transformation, DDR, justice and truth commissions. 61
OSLO forum 2008 – The OSLO forum Network of Mediators
In El Salvador, Liberia and Sri Lanka, for example, women delegations (and in the case of
El Salvador women negotiators) have put forward speciﬁc recommendations on DDR, not
only from the point of view of reintegrating female combatants, but from those of the now
female-dominated communities to which former combatants return, and as relatives of former
combatants. These included, for example, ensuring that female ex-combatants had the same
level of technical and ﬁnancial assistance as did their male counterparts, although skills training
may need to be adapted to suit gender norms and practicalities.
Beneﬁts: laying the groundwork for longer-term transformation
If you agree that peace agreements should not give the detailed blueprint for a better future, but
create the space for a country to make plans for itself during the implementation period, then
one great achievement of almost all peace processes deserves to be singled out. This is the
imposition of constitutional quotas for female political participation, most recently in Nepal and
stretching back to Rwanda, which still has the highest percentage of female parliamentarians
in the world (48%). This is usually the result of pressure from women’s groups backed up
by support from the international community, and is one of the key arguments for how conﬂict
provides opportunities for transforming gender relations, equality and female emancipation.
The piece of the picture currently missing is a study evaluating the record of those legislative
bodies. What is the impact of the increased proportions of women on sustaining the peace?
Do they need more technical capacity building to be able to participate to their fullest potential
in these not necessarily friendly environments? Observers and mediators alike suggest that
the international community has a tendency, having pushed for increased female political
participation, to leave women politicians at the door of their parliament, to compete against or
papers collaborate with others with, generally, much longer political experience.
Background Beneﬁts: message-bearing potential
There are multiple examples of women’s capacity for networking information, carrying
messages and keeping channels of communication alive. Women are often found acting as
informal mediators within the talks (leading in the Northern Irish case, as Monica McWilliams
2 told the recent European Mediation Conference in Belfast, to accusations at times that they
Section were ‘Sinn Fein in skirts’). In Uganda also, Betty Bigombe recalls using women in camps as
intermediaries between factions, a role they can play with more ease than men, making them
a valuable resource. Similarly in Somalia, women are able to move physically between clans
(especially due to intermarriage) with a freedom that men do not have, and hence have often
been used as ﬁrst-line diplomats and message carriers.
13 Ibid: Chapter 3, ‘Getting to the Peace Table’, provides a series of other examples, including from lesser-studied conﬂicts such
as in Nagaland.
14 International Parliamentary Union.
62 OSLO forum 2008 – The OSLO forum Network of Mediators
In the Middle East, there is a long tradition of women trying to talk to ‘the other’ at the Track 2
level, which observers regard as vital for keeping the door open to the idea of dialogue being
at least possible. Anderlini and Conaway quote the Executive Director of the Jerusalem-based
Women’s Legal Aid and Counseling Service: “We want to explain to each other what it is like
to live in Israel and Palestine, to develop transparent procedures so that any peace will be one
between individuals and not politicians... If we leave it only to men we get Israeli generals and
Palestinians who will not be defeated and there is no room to negotiate.”
The problem is that, just as the intransigent Palestinian and the militant Israeli aren’t listening to
other realities, the women are too often talking only among themselves. At the Global Peace
Initiative of Women conference held in Jaipur, India, in March 2008, 450 such women gathered
and shared ideas for strategically inﬂuencing conﬂict resolution, much of which would ring
very familiar to mediators: talking to the other to ‘un-demonise’ them, trying to help people
identify their real problem. To give an example, Hala Al-Saraf, head of the Iraq Health Access
Program, described how the Shiite/Sunni divide splitting Iraq is in large part a religious cover
for underlying economic and political competition among those vying for power. She runs a
conﬂict-resolution programme for widows of husbands killed in sectarian violence, where the
message is often ‘your problem is not your Sunni neighbour; it’s not having a job’, a message
that she said needs to be broadcast more widely in the country.
This focus on reality and locally based problem solving is topical, because of the nature of
today’s conﬂicts. No longer are these usually the interstate wars for which many of our models
of conﬂict prevention and resolution were built. They are often civil conﬂicts where neighbours
may have to return, or simply remain, living next door to those who may have killed, raped Section
or stolen from them. Not only can those who are aware of how those ‘real’ lives are led add
critical observation to a peace table, they may also have a role in breaking down the paradigm 2
of a peace process that suggests it is essentially a dividing of the immediate spoils for those Background
who made it to the table.
Beneﬁts: holding up the middle and reversing the slide back to conﬂict
Coming back to Northern Ireland, the process there also illustrates an interesting point about papers
the potential for women in politics to keep the middle ground alive. The NIWC – its job with
the agreement itself done – closed its doors in 2006 and the women returned to their parties,
or simply their lives. While the participation of women in Northern Irish politics has remained
greater than it was before the Coalition, it is still unimpressive (14% members of the 108-strong
Assembly are women). What has been lost over the previous ten years, analysts argue, despite
the obvious achievements in implementation of the agreement, is a true middle ground in
Northern Irish politics.
15 Maha Abu Dayeeh Shamas, Executive Director of the Jerusalem-based Women’s Legal Aid and Counseling Service, in a
speech to the UN Security Council, May 2007, quoted in Anderlini and Conaway, op. cit., p. 53.
16 11 March 2008.
Chicago Tribune, 63
+1 anno fa
Dispensa al corso di Teorie e tecniche della trasformazione dei conflitti della Prof.ssa Maria Luisa Maniscalco. Trattasi del saggio di Antonia Potter dal titolo "Gender sensitivity: nicety or necessity in peace-process management?" all'interno del quale si discutono le politiche di genere messe in atto dai mediatori all'interno delle operazioni di peacekeeping e peacebuilding.
I contenuti di questa pagina costituiscono rielaborazioni personali del Publisher Atreyu di informazioni apprese con la frequenza delle lezioni di Teorie e tecniche della trasformazione dei conflitti e studio autonomo di eventuali libri di riferimento in preparazione dell'esame finale o della tesi. Non devono intendersi come materiale ufficiale dell'università Roma Tre - Uniroma3 o del prof Maniscalco Maria Luisa.
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