Gender in Mediation - Why peace processes are better when women are included


Welcoming Remarks by Ambassador Martin Dahinden, Ambassador of Switzerland to the United States of America

On the occasion of the for the fourth event in the Partners in Dialogue series with Vital Voices

at Vital Voices offices, Washington, D.C.

Speaker: Ambassador Martin Dahinden


Ladies and Gentlemen, 

On behalf of the Embassy of Switzerland, I would like to welcome you to the fourth event in the Partners in Dialogue series and I would like to thank Vital Voices for hosting us today. 

Last year we celebrated the 15th anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. In Resolution 1325 and its successor resolutions, the Security Council and the UN Member States recognize the vital role women play in peace processes. Strengthening women’s participation and inclusion in peace and transition processes is not just a question of having equal say in matters of peace and security. It is also about achieving better results. Today we know that when peace and state-building processes include women, they are of better quality and more sustainable. Experience shows that women’s participation contributes to broadening the range of issues on the negotiation agenda and enhances public support and acceptance of those agreements.


That is why we are here today and we are happy to welcome Dr. Thania Paffenholz from Geneva. She will present the study "Making Women Count—Not Just Counting Women:  Assessing Women’s Inclusion and Influence on Peace Negotiations." The study by the Graduate Institute in Geneva was supported by Switzerland as a contribution to the "Global Study on the Implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325" mandated by the UN Secretary General to measure implementation fifteen years after the first Resolution on Women, Peace and Security. 

With their research, Dr. Paffenholz and her team show the value of inclusion on the basis of forty in-depth case studies.  They provide us with a knowledge base to ensure that inclusion does not remain an empty phrase or a box that can be checked after one or two “focus group discussions.” The study gives us options and creative solutions for establishing the link between those at the negotiating table and those excluded from the table. We are happy that the results of the study are already widely used in support of current peace talks, such as in Syria – even before the study has been printed. 

The current track record of women’s participation in peace processes is not good. Switzerland is engaged in mediation support in peace processes. One lesson we have learned is that we need to engage with civil society and build capacities and empower women early on. We need to form a group of women leaders who are ready to get on board when the time comes. Women should be included in all mediation training and activities. We also promote local women’s networks active in peace and security.

As a positive example of Swiss commitment, I would like to highlight our work with our partners in Myanmar, who have been strengthening the voices of women in the peace process and in policymaking through training.  The Geneva 2 talks on Syria, where we actively supported the Syrian Women’s Initiative that aims to unite different women’s networks to stand as one voice demanding an active role in the peace talks, provide another example. 


And now I look forward to hearing our speakers talk about their experiences and the benefits derived from women’s participation and inclusion in peace and transition processes. 

Thank you for your attention.


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