There are different manifestation and diverging worldviews of the conflict parties around the issue of the status of women in society. Actors with different worldviews repeatedly clash over diverging visions of the role and status of women in a society, this clash has implications for peacemaking. To understand this further, a workshop was hosted by the Culture and Religion in Mediation CARIM program, a joint program between the Mediation Support Team of the Center for Security Studies (CSS) at ETH Zürich and the Human Security Division of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. The workshop on approaches to worldview conflicts related to the status of women was held in Zürich, Switzerland from 12-13 October 2017.
The workshop discussed different approaches to working with worldview conflicts in which the status of women is a dividing issue. The workshop also interrogated how women-to-women cross-worldview networks can bridge a divide in society and strengthen opportunities for dialogue. Discussions also sought to understand categories of the stakeholders and actors engage with to bridge polarization in complex environments, including in conflict situations. This was linked to the discussion of how third parties choose their local partners and how to engage with a partner that does not share one’s worldview.
Further, drawing on case studies from Morocco, Pakistan, Central African Republic and Afghanistan, the workshop focused on a range of key questions such as; To what degree should third parties work towards changing power structures, and to what degree is working with the existing power structure more efficient? Are there other approaches? Are certain strategies more fitting to certain situation? How do third parties see themselves? How does this self-perception impact the work on the ground (who they talk to, how they talk about issues, which issues they talk about)?
Working towards sustainable peace in Africa and globally aligns with ACCORD’s strategic vision. Thus ACCORD’s participation in the workshop was a platform to further interrogate how the divergent and often conflicting world views on the status and role of women impacts peacemaking in Africa and in other contexts.