The participation of women in the Mindanao peace process

This paper discusses the enabling environment that made women’s participation possible in the Mindanao peace process, and the strategies the three women who broke new ground used to influence the negotiations. It also offers recommendations on how others can apply the identified tools and strategies successfully.

Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, head of the government negotiating panel, was the first woman to be a signatory to a major peace agreement. This is significant considering that globally women were signatories to only two of the 61 peace agreements that were concluded from August 2008 to March 2012. Three women on the government side (and none on the MILF side) eventually signed the peace agreement. Coronel-Ferrer wrote: “Just three of the 12 signatories are women. Still, it’s a big leap: nearly all past negotiations were exclusively done by men.”

In light of the ongoing clamor from many quarters worldwide for an increase in women’s participation in formal peace negotiations and other peace processes, it is important to ask what were the factors that resulted in the strong participation of women in the peace process in Mindanao? Beyond the question of participation, how much and how well did the women influence the negotiated settlement?

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