This brief examines how women break down barriers to participation, drawing on Independent Diplomat’s work with female (and male) party leaders, delegates, negotiators, and civil society leaders seeking to influence formal peace processes. In so doing, the brief explores how women successfully exert influence, using their networks, access, and expertise to affect policy outcomes and drive forward agenda items – despite many challenges impeding women’s full, equal, and meaningful participation. Marlene Spoerri, Independent Diplomat’s Director of Diplomacy and Systems Change, argues that the following tactics enable women to wield greater influence over peace processes:
- Developing a clear view on the goals and objectives, which can form the basis of a targeted diplomatic strategy.
- Building and sustaining strategic coalitions committed to advancing those goals.
- Leading in the formulation and promotion of policy proposals.
- Opening lines of communication across parties.
- Engaging male allies and skeptics.
- Securing the buy-in of domestic stakeholders.
- Directing the international community to provide necessary political support and resources.
- Securing independent, long-term financing.
- Focusing on tangible impact that makes a difference to the lives of communities on the ground.
- Combining a mix of insider and outsider tactics.
- Maintaining a long-term vision and persisting, despite the challenges.
The author also offers a set of policy recommendations to the international community to support women’s assertive engagement in peace processes, arguing that governments, multilateral institutions, and nongovernmental organizations committed to advancing the women, peace, and security agenda should work to:
- Empower women to engage beyond matters of representation and gender within peace processes.
- Put less emphasis on the need for full unity from women’s groups.
- Expand the types of support provided to women beyond trainings and conventional capacity-building projects.
- Provide long-term, flexible funding that allows women’s groups to plan for the future.
- Create opportunities that target women in political positions, not just women who identify as civil society representatives.
- Move beyond rhetorical and financial support for the women, peace, and security agenda to ensure political weight is thrown behind gender inclusive peace processes.
- Set benchmarks for gender inclusion, including conditioning mediation roles on inclusive delegations.
- Mirror inclusion within their own ranks.