On 18 November, 2014, WILPF PeaceWomen, the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, and the Mission of Liechtenstein hosted a closed roundtable discussion on gender-inclusive mediation at the Mission of Switzerland in New York. Two mediation experts – Ngozi Amu, Team Leader with the Mediation Support Unit of the United Nations Department of Political Affairs (UN DPA), and Meredith Preston McGhie, Regional Director for Africa with the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue – shared their experiences from the field on the challenges to civil-society inclusion in the recent peace processes in the Central African Republic (CAR) and South Sudan. Ms. McGhie pointed out that trying to “fix women” is not effective as it does not address structural power hierarchies in need of transformation: “Women mediators are all trained while none of the men are. What we need is more women in positions of power, so that the people in power will appoint them as mediators.”
During the roundtable discussions following the speakers' accounts, participants mentioned the importance of preparatory processes and stronger tools to build consensus and capacity among women's groups. In response to the concerns raised by the audience, both Amu and McGhie recognized that international mediation and national dialogue are often divorced from local processes and that pressure to accelerate the peace process hinders inclusion and effectiveness. Therefore, mediators must take a multidimensional approach that includes both formal and informal processes and allocate more space early on for smaller fora and intercommunal processes.