What is a Woman Faith-Based Mediator?
Historically, in many contexts around the world, conflict parties have turned to faith and traditional leaders to resolve conflicts on the ground. While faith and traditional leaders have continued to serve as arbitrators and mediators in tribal, religious, traditional, and clan-based societies, their contribution to conflict transformation, in particular, mediation, negotiation, and peacemaking, has only been recently discussed in scholarly debate. Although the relevance and effectiveness of faith-based mediation has been well researched, the role and potential of women and young women within those processes are less so. When faith-based mediation is referred to, it typically is associated with formal religious institutions mostly run by male religious leaders.
Women faith-based mediators and negotiators (WFBMs) are defined as those, ‘who are working on various tracks for ceasing violence and finding agreements in order to prevent and mitigate violence. In doing this work, their tools and methods are inspired by faith, and/or they are cooperating within or with faith-based structures and/or with faith-based actors, and/or are gaining motivation and inspiration for this work through faith.’
Case Studies on the Challenges and Opportunities of Women-Faith Based Mediators in Peace Mediation
From 2022 to 2023, the Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers and the Berghof Foundation partnered to study and elevate the challenges and entry points within peace mediation processes faced by WFBMs. Drawing on local research conducted in Colombia, Nigeria, Syria, Cameroon, Iraq, and Kenya, as well as interviews from individuals WFBMs from Israel, Uganda, Yemen, and Aceh, this study unearths the potential of WFBMs for peacemaking, their motivations, their strategies to overcome societal and religious boundaries, their areas of operation and their achievements in the cessation and prevention of violence. Relevant stories and lived experiences of individual WFBMs from different parts of the world build the foundation of the study to understand how the intersectionality of faith, and being a woman or young woman, impacts the effectiveness of peace mediation and negotiation processes at all tracks. Click on each of the studies below to read more.
While WFBMs utilize creative strategies to achieve results despite these barriers and risky conditions in which they are forced to work within, their efforts remain largely invisible, unexplored, and uncaptured. With this study, the Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers (NRTP) and the Berghof Foundation (BF) would like to give visibility to these brave women and young women, their daily struggles and their unmatched courage and perseverance. Read the recommendations shared by the women for further support on the work of WFBMs.
Connect with the Women Faith-Based Mediators
How do we create more opportunities for women of faith to become mediators?
Read an interview with Woman Faith-Based Mediator Ezabir Ali Mir on her peace mediation experience working in Kashmir and how others can also collaborate with WFBMs for dispute resolution.
[Coming soon] This video interview series showcases several WFBMs who were interviewed by the Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers. They each share their stories about their work, their source of inspiration, and the challenges they face. To receive the latest video updates, subscribe to our YouTube channel here.