20 years on: It’s about time we walk the talk on women’s role in peacemaking

Published on Friday, 6th of March 2020

Too much talk, not enough action. Why are there still more ball-point pens and middle-aged men at the peace table than women?

It’s been 20 years since the United Nations Security Council adopted a landmark resolution to strengthen women’s role in peacemaking. Still, after two decades, there are far more ball-point pens and middle-aged men present at the peace table than women. Why the progress has been so slow and how, above all, to walk the talk and turn words into concrete action?

In this episode Anne Meskanen, Leading Expert at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, and Itonde Kakoma, CMI’s Programme Director, discuss ways to make the inclusion of women a reality.

Despite progress, the persistent patriarchy among conflict parties still prevents women from meaningfully participating in conflict resolution.

“It’s a question of political will. Are men willing to share the power?”, asks Meskanen.

However, as Kakoma points out, there is a generational shift that is taking place in the Middle East and in parts of Africa. Young people call for a broader participation of society in peacemaking. In this sense mediation actors such as the UN should also push more strongly for women’s inclusion, Kakoma says.

Focus on funding and women’s skills

Both Kakoma and Meskanen called for increased funding for women’s civil society organisations working on peace and security.

Instead of number of seats at the table, more focus should be placed on women’s skills, Meskanen says.

“Nordic countries should commit more to educating women who have the potential to become peacemakers. There are a lot of women who have the potential, but they need training”, Meskanen points out.

Enhancing the capacity of different peacemaking actors to participate in a meaningful way is also at the core of CMI’s work.

The South Sudan peace process 2013 – 2018 is an encouraging example of women’s ability to make a difference. Using different strategies, women made a significant contribution to the peace process as a whole.

In CMI’s Peace Talks we look at the world through peacemaking lenses. We have conversations with both our own and other top experts on what it takes to build lasting peace amidst the volatile world situation. In the wise words of our founder, Nobel Peace Laureate Martti Ahtisaari, we believe that all conflicts can be resolved. This podcast is about how to do it.


Anne Meskanen, Leading Expert at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, and CMI’s Programme Director Itonde Kakoma.


Recorded: March 3, 2020

Edited: Antero Karvonen

Host: CMI’s Communications Manager Antti Ämmälä

Jingle: Jukka Backlund


CMI’s Peace Talks available on: AnchorSpotify, Google Podcasts and iTunes.