Swiss initiative supports women peacebuilders

Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter (left) and Christine Schraner Burgener, the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy to Myanmar, in Bern on February 25 Keystone / Anthony Anex

The Swiss foreign ministry has chosen International Women’s Day to launch the “Swiss Women in Peace Processes” (SWiPP) network.

This content was published on March 8, 2021 - 18:02

The 15 Swiss women who will be part of the first iteration of the network come from various professional backgrounds, such as the foreign ministry and non-governmental and international organisations. All are involved in peacebuilding efforts around the world.

The number of women working in international peace processes is very low, the ministry said in a statementExternal link on Monday. According to a study by the Council on Foreign Relations, between 1992 and 2019, women constituted on average 13% of negotiators, 6% of mediators and 6% of signatories in major peace processes around the world.

Networks are an excellent way to create opportunities for women and raise their visibility, the ministry said.

“Peace processes are complex. They address a wide range of subjects and have multiple dynamics at play,” said Sarah Koch, a human security advisor at the Swiss Embassy in Cameroon and a participant in the first SWiPP.

“Their success depends on the many different actors involved being able to work together. Likewise, progress on certain issues requires a shared effort, mutual support and inspiration. Networks are a really good instrument for this.”

Sounding board

The network will be structured around a digital platform as well as an advisory body (“sounding board”) comprising both men and women. This will make it easier to arrange exchanges, experience-sharing and guest lectures.

For Sanna Vögeli, one of the initial 15 members and a mediation programme officer with swisspeaceExternal link, “the network opens up opportunities for us like peer coaching, professional development, career planning and intergenerational exchange on issues that specifically affect women working in peace processes”.

The pilot project will run for 18 months. At the end of this phase, SWiPP should be scaled up, the ministry said.

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