The United Nations University Gender Equality Studies and Training Programme (UNU-GEST) will act as one of five operational partners in the Nordic Women Mediators’ Network. This initiative. backed by the Nordic countries, aims to increase the number of women involved in international peace mediation efforts.
Members of the Operational Group represent Nordic institutions and are appointed by each of the Nordic Foreign Ministries as partners in the Network. The role of this group is to carry out and implement plans, initiatives, and other activities for the network in a collaborative fashion and with the agreement of their respective ministries.
The network was inaugurated on 27 November 2015 at the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo. The director of UNU-GEST, Dr. Irma Erlingsdóttir, attended the launch together with representatives from the Nordic countries. Following opening remarks from government officials at a public session, a closed high-level seminar discussed the role of women mediators and negotiators in peacebuilding processes.
The idea of a Nordic Women Mediators’ Network was endorsed in April 2015 at the Nordic African Foreign Ministers’ meeting, inspired by a similar initiative in South Africa
Women with experience in formal mediation teams are the predominant target group, as well as other women involved in mediation-related work (including women with international negotiations experience, not strictly limited to peace negotiations).
While important gains have been made in the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security (UNSCR 1325), formal peace and mediation processes have lagged behind in engaging and involving women — whether as parties to a conflict or as members of the teams facilitating and leading peace processes. The UN Security Council has on a number of occasions expressed concern at the persistent obstacles to women’s full involvement in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, and drawn special attention to the constant under-representation of women in formal peace processes.
The objective of the Nordic Women Mediators’ Network is to redress this situation by increasing the number of Nordic women actively involved in international peace mediation efforts, connecting to and promoting networks of women mediators (both at country level and in regional organisations), and serving as a pilot for similar initiatives in other regions or at the international level, through close coordination with the UN.