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Norway and South Africa seeking to increase the number of women mediators

Fifteen years after the adoption of UN Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace and security, there are still very few women around the negotiating tables in peace processes. ‘Norway and South Africa are now taking steps to increase the number of women mediators,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende.

Mr Brende today met South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane to discuss how Norway and South Africa can help to increase the number of women mediators. Mr Brende is in South Africa in connection with the Africa-Nordic Meeting of Foreign Ministers.

A review carried out by UN Women on a sample of 31 peace processes between 1992 and 2011 showed that only 4 % of the total signatories and 9 % of the negotiators were women.

South Africa has, with support from Norway, provided training for women mediators in the African region. These mediators will make up an African women mediators’ network that can assist in peace negotiations.

Utenriksminister Brende og Sør-Afrikas utenriksminister

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Børge Brende, discussed  the steps to increase the number of women mediators with South Africa's Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane (r). Photo: Astrid Sehl, MFA

‘There is considerable mediation expertise among African and Nordic women, but this expertise needs to be brought to the fore and used more actively. Norway is now taking the initiative to establish a Nordic women mediators’ network, inspired by idea of the African network. The purpose of a network of this kind is to build competence, increase the visibility of women’s existing mediation expertise, and increase the number of women mediators. The Nordic network will also promote the establishment of similar networks in other regions,’ said Mr Brende.

Ensuring women’s participation in peace processes is a key objective in Norway’s Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security, which was launched in February.

‘Conflict often affects women and men in different ways. In many cases, women and girls pay a high price. Despite the fact that conflict-related sexual violence takes place on a very large scale, those responsible for these crimes are not usually brought to trial. Experience shows that when women participate in peace processes, the needs of a larger proportion of the population are safeguarded. This in turn leads to more durable peace agreements,’ said Mr Brende.

The Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) and the Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre (NOREF) are involved in Norway’s efforts to develop the Nordic network of women mediators.

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