Are Women Better Mediators?

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20 Oct 2022

Are Women Better Mediators?

In 2021, UNIFIL Civil Affairs joined the Gender Advisory Unit in collaboration with UN Women to support a women mediation training aimed at enhancing women's capacity to negotiate and mediate on domestic issues of concern for their communities.

This special training, which was supported by a UNIFIL Quick Impact Project, helped establish a local women mediation network in Nabatiyeh Governorate, south Lebanon.

According to the United Nations agency UN Women, women’s participation in mediation is essential for achieving lasting, positive peace, which goes well beyond just the silencing of guns.

However, in a male dominated world, woman struggle to be heard by the parties to a conflict, they continue to be sidelined at the negotiating table, and they make up just 2% of mediators in major peace processes.

In the case of Nabatiyeh’s women mediation network the focus is on preventing and managing local conflicts. Peace must first start at the grass roots level, at home, in your own community.

A total of twenty-two (22) female participants were trained on various negotiation and mediation skills and techniques on domestic issues. Among the training topics were Conflict Analysis and Management, Initiative Planning and Campaigning, Negotiation Basics, Exploring the impact of Body Language, Collaborative Problem Solving, and Conflict Resolution in Practice.

One of the students, Ms. Zahwi, an experienced social welfare official, acknowledged the value of such continuous learning and recognized the benefit of the newly acquired skills in her dealings with a wide range of interlocutors, be it staff, partners, or clients. The new skills are helping her to maintain an open attitude, with no prejudice, an effective control of emotions and reactions, and an acceptance of difference of opinion. 

A local teacher who also participated in the training, pointed out how she could capitalize on the mediation skills when settling differences of opinion or small-scale disagreements between classmates. She further realized how the training has enhanced her empathy and understanding for all sides involved in a conflict.

The 22 attendees graduated from the mediation training course on 25 June 2022 in the presence of representatives from UNIFIL’s Civil Affairs, UNIFIL Sector East Commander Brig Gen Ignacio Olazábal Elorz and members of UNIFIL’s Spanish Battalion, among others.

The question isn’t so much whether women are better mediators or not, but rather, as UN Women puts it, women are crucial partners in economic recovery, social cohesion, and political legitimacy, and women’s participation in a mediation process can help ensure that more and diverse members of the community become engaged in conflict resolution and peacemaking.