No Peace Without Women 3/4
How Women negotiate differently
MC: Mrs. Aleksandra Skonieczna, President, WFWP, Poland
MA in Psychology & Linguistics, MBA, certified business trainer.
Mrs. Skonieczna referred to a recent statement she had found in a newspaper article: ‘Women tend to be more cooperative, empathetic and ethical’. Such qualities lead to the achievement of lasting sustainable solutions in all areas. She added that women also excel in motivating, guiding and nurturing talents.
As a mother of five, Mrs. Skonieczna affirmed that women’s role is more crucial due to the responsibility for raising future leaders in their families. Thus, when women negotiate mundane issues with their children and partners, they serve as a role models for their children as to how they will build relationships and communicate with others later in adult life.
She referred to her experience of growing up in Russia and, since her marriage, living 30 years in Poland, where she has implemented projects to heal Polish-Russian relationships. Recently, it became more clear to her that more women are needed in political positions, such as Presidents and Prime Ministers so that such decisions as declaring war cannot be taken without their consent.
Most experts working in caring professions are women, who have to deal with the aftermath of tragedies, such as the wounded, PTSD patients and schoolchildren who have fled their hometowns.
H.E. Elsie Christofia, wife of former President of the Republic of Cyprus, Dimitris Christofias (2008 - 2013); Member of the Central Committee of AKEL Party.
“The contribution of Cypriot Women in the struggle for a peaceful solution of the Cyprus Problem”
Ms Christofia welcomed the initiative of WFWP on the UN International Day of Peace. She criticised double standard policies of powerful nations that undermine UN peace processes. Referring to women’s suffering from wars led by imperialist powers against peaceful people, she emphasised women’s worldwide support for UN peaceful purposes. Women see the consequences of violations of international law, such as the division of Cyprus since 1974 despite the efforts of Cypriot women from all communities for a peaceful solution. Many were displaced and lost their lives. Turkey still occupies 37 percent of Cyprus.
Women have helped with reconstructing Cyprus and with providing economic aid to people. Women’s Mass Movement of Cyprus supports the peaceful reunification of Cyprus on the basis of a bi-zonal, bicommunal federation with political equality as provided in the UN Resolutions. However, rising global tensions are adversely affecting its prospects.
Ms. Christofia stated that negotiations must resume under the auspices of the UN with the aim of:
ending occupation, restoring territorial integrity, abolishing intervention rights, safeguarding human rights, and demilitarising.
History shows that women can emerge as leaders in a crisis. She stressed the need for financial support that goals are met as NGOs engage for women’s issues in communities across the island.
Dr. Liri Berisha, First Lady of Albania (1992-1997) Faculty of Medicine as a Pediatrician, President of Albanian Children Foundation and Founder of Cultural Foundation “Mother Teresa”
Dr. Berisha thanked the organisers for convening this extraordinary panel in a world troubled by wars. She drew on evidence indicating that women’s involvement in peace negotiations increased opportunities for sustainable peace agreements by 35 %.
As First Lady and beyond, Dr. Berisha has encouraged women to use their transformative power in both charitable activities and decision-making processes, since their voice diminishes the voice of conflict. Dr. Berisha founded the Albanian Children Foundation, focusing on autism spectrum disorders and other illnesses or socio-economic deficiencies. She explained that the more a country cares for the weakest in society, the more it effects positive change for all.
As proponents of peace in media communication, conferences etc., mothers shake public opinion and outdated politics by changing the mindsets of policy makers. Referring to women as powerful engines driving society, she explained that a country's efforts should be linked to improving women’s and girls’ wellbeing, which will reflect in society’s wellbeing and is critical for conflict prevention. Women working together, promoting and strengthening female leadership in workplaces and organisations, is challenging stereotypes and gender roles. Finally Dr. Berisha expressed hope for the world to prosper, grow and stabilise through feminine wisdom, wit and trustworthiness.
Hon Helina Kokkarinen, Chief, EU Advisory Mission to Ukraine (2016- 2017),
former Ministerial Adviser and Head of the Civilian Crisis Management (CCM) Unit in the Ministry of the Interior 2008-2014, Finland.
Ms. Kokkarinen commenced her address by highlighting Finland’s commitment to peace and its focus on promoting women's participation in peace processes.
She explained why women should be at the forefront. Firstly, and not to be taken lightly, women make up half of the world’s population. Secondly, peace agreements by male negotiation teams tend to lack aspects for a sustainable peace since women take care of societal issues.
Ms. Kokkarinen, who had been a Municipal Administrator in Decani (Municipality in Kosovo), shared a personal experience of an unusual negotiating method. During the first municipality elections in Kosovo, the elections went well, but the outcome was problematic. Two political parties had received enough votes to enable both parties to hinder normal development. The winner could have taken key main positions, such as mayor or director, but the other party boycotted the implementation of the municipal statute.
Following a month of fruitless discussion, Ms. Kokkarinen devised a plan. Since she had worked with Albanian refugees and spent time in Kosovo, she understood the society and culture somewhat. She invited the party leaders – former UCK fighters and rather young men – to her home. When they arrived, she sat on the couch and began crocheting while talking to them.The Albanian culture, particularly in the countryside, considers the man as head of the family outside the home. However, at home grandmothers in particular hold power. Ms. Kokkarinen played the grandmother role sitting at home. Her strategy resulted in them reaching an agreement, which was signed by everyone and secured by the municipality.
Dr Thania Paffenholtz, Director, Inclusive Peace Institute, Geneva, Researcher, focusing on mediation and peacebuilding, process design, inclusion, and participation, and conditions under which peace processes produce sustainable outcomes.
Ms. Paffenholtz began her remarks by affirming that negotiations and peace processes tend to have different outcomes when women participate, but noted that many points had already been made. Thus, she decided to share her own experience to avoid repetition, and she offered interesting insights. Women have a number of assets that men lack. In her opinion, women should focus on their strengths more as they have great power and much to say.
She also emphasised taking advantage of being a mother figure. Patriarchal societies, such as in the Middle East, Kenya, or Eastern Europe, believe that the negotiator/mediator needs to be a man. However, Ms. Paffenholtz has discovered that men often got bogged down in the process and ended up shouting at each other because they needed to get certain things out. As a mediator herself at a certain stage in the process, she would clap her hands and ask them if they had finished saying everything. They would respect her and take her seriously.
She views this as feminine authority. If a man behaves thus, it would be seen as a power game. When a woman behaves so in those societies, they respond to her as to a mother figure. She considers this a huge advantage and therefore recommends having women as lead mediators and chief negotiators