We support female insider mediators in peaceful protest movements to enhance their conflict resolution capacities.
Timeframe: 2023 - 2024
Over the course of 21 months, the Berghof Foundation, in consultation with UN Women in an advisory and coordination capacity, supports women insider mediators actively involved in peaceful protest movements.
The primary aim is to enhance their inclusion and support them to make meaningful contributions to conflict resolution processes in regions affected by conflict.
Based on four case studies spanning different regions, from Latin America, the MENA region, and South East Asia to Sub-Saharan Africa, we want to learn more about the – oftentimes informal – roles women play as insider mediators within movements or between protest movements and other stakeholders. We also seek to gain a deeper understanding of the gender norms that shape these roles. Drawing from the identified practices and needs, we will engage with women from peaceful protest movements. Our goal is to increase their conflict resolution skills and capacities, allowing them to leverage their knowledge and expertise more effectively in peace processes and potentially take on more formal roles in conflict transformation processes, in line with the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda.
Over the last decade, the world has witnessed a surge in peaceful mass protest movements, resisting systemic violence, demanding constitutional and institutional change, and mobilising for peace. Peacebuilding scholars and practitioners have started to expand their understanding of mediation moving beyond formal processes aimed at resolving armed conflicts, to also include grassroot everyday practices to bridge gaps in state-society relations and facilitate socio-political change.
Previous research, based on case studies and experience, has shown that while formal mediation does not always take place in conflicts involving mass protest movements, more informal and situated mediation takes place between various actors. This mediation occurs between different factions of a movement, between the government and broader society, or between the government or security forces and armed groups.
While both women and men are involved in these movements, anecdotal evidence suggests that women often play prominent leadership roles but may also take on less visible bridge-building roles as insider mediators between, for example, different factions within their movement, with broader society, or the government, security forces and armed group. Interestingly, at times, traditional gender stereotypes have been exploited to favour women’s roles.
Through collaborating with a core group of women from active as well as past protest movements, we aim to acknowledge and increase their conflict resolution practices. Our goal is to strengthen their conflict resolution skills and capacities and to enhance opportunities for them to be part of inclusive conflict transformation, potentially enacting more formal roles on peace processes.
Our approach is informed by practice-oriented and gender-sensitive research and needs assessment. Our work aligns with the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda, connecting existing conflict resolution practices in informal space within communities to more formal tracks and processes. The research findings will be disseminated in international and regional policy arenas, bringing together mediation and WPS policymakers and experts. By reaching out to international key stakeholders, we aim to set impulses to increase the recognition of informal mediation roles played by women from peaceful protest movement and their potential for peace process.
Partners & funding
The project is implemented in close consultation with UN Women in an advisory and coordination capacity, bringing in their vast expertise and networks related to women inclusion in peace processes.
The project includes the following activities:
- Needs assessment and practice-oriented research: We work with insider researchers in four different contexts to better understand what mediation or leadership roles women are playing within peaceful protest movements, the gendered dynamics that shape and inform those roles, their influence on women’s leverage and legitimacy, and needs for support the women see themselves.
- Peer network & training: Building on the identified needs and roles, we bring together women playing insider mediation roles from different contexts to build their knowledge and skills to shape, facilitate, and to meaningfully engage in conflict resolution processes. This will be done through a series of needs-based training and peer- learning activities, bringing in peers and experts on specific issues of relevance (planned in 2024).
Related publications & resources:
- Mubashir, Mir & Vimalarajah, Luxshi (2016), “Tradition / Faith-Oriented Insider Mediators (TFIMs) as Crucial Actors in Conflict Transformation – Potential, Constraints, / Opportunities for Collaborative Support (Baseline Study)”.
- Mubashir, Mir & Vimalarajah, Luxshi (2016), “Tradition / Faith-Oriented Insider Mediators (TFIMs) as Crucial Actors in Conflict Transformation – Potential, Constraints, / Opportunities for Collaborative Support (Synopsis)”.
- Rodríguez Prieto, Sergio (2022). "Attentive, assertive, supportive. EU support to nonviolent movements".
- Dudouet, Véronique & Schädel, Andreas (2020): "Incremental inclusivity in peace processes: Key lessons learnt. Berghof Policy Brief 11".
- Dudouet, Véronique; Hülzer, Johanna-Maria; Sallach, Carlotta & Schädel, Andreas (2020): "Incremental inclusivity: A recipe for effective peace processes?".
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