‘It is past time for women to take their rightful place, side by side with men, in the rooms where the fates of peoples, where their children’s and grandchildren’s fates, are decided.’
- Hilary Clinton
According to UN Women fewer than 3% of signatories to peace agreements are women and no woman has been appointed Chief or Lead peace mediators in UN-sponsored peace talks. It’s clear then that at peace table, where crucial decisions about post-conflict recovery and governance are made, women are conspicuously underrepresented.
Indeed, the world of international diplomacy has been dominated by men for many years but it is encouraging to note that more recently we have seen on the world stage Madeleine Albright, Condeleeza Rice, Hilary Clinton and Christine Lagrande. Have they have brought different qualities to the negotiating table than Bill Clinton, Colin Powell, Tony Blair or George Mitchell? I think so. They certainly get more comments on their clothing while men seem to receive more interest and plaudits for the kind of cigars they smoke and the sort of telephone they use. At least in the case of Dominique Strauss-Khan!
In this blog, I intend to explore what differences, if any, exist between male and female mediators and I will examine some current trends and future opportunities for women mediators.
(a) The Gender Agenda:Are Male Mediators from Mars & Female Mediators from Venus?
“Different though the sexes are, they inter-mix. In every human being a vacillation from one sex to the other takes place, and often it is only the clothes that keep the male or female likeness, while underneath the sex is the very opposite of what it is above.”
- Virginia Woolf
If you Google Gender and Communication you will find that there is a group of researchers who focus on neurobiology, while many more focus on the social, psychological and cultural issues. Simon Baron-Cohen, Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at Cambridge University, has published an excellent and thought provoking book on how and why the minds of men and women work differently, called ‘The Essential Difference’.
by Eileen Carroll, Member CEDR Chambers and Deputy Chief Executive of CEDR