The meeting brought together nearly 40 network members for the first time. Members travelled from diverse locations including Cameroon, Nigeria, Northern Ireland, Australia, Kashmir and Bougainville. They brought with them a rich array of expertise – ranging from mediating conflict between governments and armed groups as part of official peace process, to mediating community-level conflicts.
While in London, members of the WMC had the opportunity to share their experiences and advocacy messages with the international community, including with Her Royal Highness the Countess of Wessex. Her Royal Highness visited the network meeting and heard from the members about how they are building bridges in their countries and communities. She has been a champion of the UK’s work on women, peace and security, and earlier this year hosted a reception for women peacebuilders at Buckingham Palace on International Women's Day 2019 to highlight the vital role women play in building peace in countries affected by conflict.
The members also took part in a public event at the London School of Economics. Women from several regions of West Africa, Pacific and South Asia shared what it means to be a mediator across different spaces. They discussed the value of mediation and peacebuilding within community spaces and how this work can enhance and link with the regional, national and international peace processes and mechanisms. At the event, it was also announced that WMC member Sanam Naraghi Anderlini has been appointed as the new Director of the Centre for Women, Peace and Security at LSE.
Women Mediators across the Commonwealth (WMC) is a network which brings together women from different backgrounds and with different experiences of mediating conflict to learn from each other. Supported by Conciliation Resources, the network advocates for greater recognition of the crucial work done by women mediators at all levels - from the local to the global.
The network launched in July 2018, and many members have already taken part in mediation trainings, advocacy events and peer to peer learning exchanges. This week was a chance to consolidate the lessons from these events, and to plan for the future of the network.
Despite the fact that these women play an active role in mediating conflicts at all levels, their role is often not acknowledged and supported. We are championing efforts to increase the recognition of the role of women mediators in peace processes locally, regionally and internationally.
Women Mediators across the Commonwealth is hosted by Conciliation Resources and funded by the UK Government's Foreign and Commonwealth Office, in support of the commitments made during Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) 2018.