Upstairs in a room above the municipal hall in Abbassiyah, south Lebanon, a group of women participates in a mediation and conflict resolution workshop. The room is animated and lively as the trainer, Jocelyne Gerges, from the Beirut-based Professional Mediation Center of Saint-Joseph University triggers discussions, group work and participation.
Similar workshops are also being held in Tyre. After attending one of these Dr. Rafah Shehadeh Kassir, a participant from the South Women’s Housing Association, explains, “The workshop consisted of several women from the South who have influence in their southern community. They would be intermediaries in conflict resolution between the family and society. At the same time, they would be intermediaries in supporting women to participate in decision-making in the fields of politics, community and society.”
Nadya Khalife from UN Women elaborates, “The training we’re doing with UNIFIL is to really begin engaging women at the local level in acquiring these mediation skills in order for them to really resolve whatever disputes, whatever conflicts they have at the local level.”
UNIFIL’s Gender Advisor, Afaf Omer, says such trainings are especially important at a time when Lebanon is finalizing its first National Action Plan for the implementation of UNSCR 1325.
“It is important that Lebanese women are prepared to participate in all aspects of peace building and conflict resolution. These workshops prepare Lebanese women to be effective mediators and ready to manage all types of conflict,” he says, adding, “These workshops also help bring women together to brainstorm on issues they face and provide a forum to manage conflict in a meaningful way.”
The latest training, in which 28 women benefited, is the continuation of the pilot training launched in November 2018 and is co-funded by UNIFIL and UN Women. One of the organizers, Rola Bzeih from UNIFIL Civil Affairs, explains, “There has been cooperation to implement and support the project, especially as it complements the strategy of Lebanese women. We are working with municipalities from the area and with local women, and in turn, they work for the people of the area and for their country, Lebanon.”
Background to the Workshops:
The workshops aim to develop conflict management skills for women and are related to United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 on women and peace and security, adopted by the Security Council on 31 October 2000.
This resolution reaffirms the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, peace negotiations, peace-building, peacekeeping, humanitarian response and in post-conflict reconstruction. UNSCR 1325 also highlights the importance of women’s equal participation and full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security.