Promoting women’s effective participation in conflict prevention and mediation, as well as addressing their specific needs in peacemaking efforts have been a high priority for the United Nations and Member States since the adoption of Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) on Women, Peace and Security. However, in spite of many global and regional commitments and initiatives, the number of women and gender experts involved in formal peacemaking processes remains rather low; few peace agreements include gender-relevant provisions or protect women’s fundamental rights; the added-value of women’s contribution to sustainable peace is not taken into consideration or is underestimated.
The initiative for a Mediterranean Women Mediators Network aims at fulfilling the need to increase the number of women involved in peacemaking efforts, and at facilitating the appointment of high level women mediators at local and international level. It intends – in particular – to reduce and fill a networking capacity gap in the Mediterranean area. Stability in the Mediterranean is a prerequisite for human security in the entire region.
In this particular area, with its complex socio-cultural context, women mediators can bring strategic knowledge and contribute to conflict resolution and sustainable peace.
The Mediterranean Women Mediators Network will be a catalyst for mediation efforts in ongoing and potential crises and post-conflict stabilization processes and will foster synergies and coordination among existing initiatives. The Network will also strive for a coherent approach, in close cooperation with the UN and the UNDPA managed roster of mediation experts. Its effectiveness will be bolstered through close cooperation with civil society and in particular in synergy with other stakeholders and similar groups active in this field.
The Mediterranean Women Mediators Network will consist, in its initial stage, of approximately 40 qualified members from Mediterranean countries. The Network’s geographic scope encompasses the UN Member States of the Mediterranean area, including some lacking a direct outlet to the Sea, which nonetheless belong to the Mediterranean history and culture, as well as Permanent Observers States of the UN.
MWMN Head of the Secretariat
Irene Fellin is the Head of the MWMN Secretariat. She has been working at the establishment of the MWMN since early 2017 and is currently conducting research on women and mediation. As project coordinator of the Network, she oversees the general outlook of the activities and maintains relations with the institutional and international partners of the initiative as well as the networks’ members. Additionally, she is the Network’s representative and contact person within the Global Alliance of Regional Women Mediator Networks. She is a Senior Fellow on Gender and Security issues at the Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI). Her research mainly focuses on the implementation of UNSCR 1325 “Women, Peace and Security” in the Mediterranean area and in the framework of international organizations such as the EU, NATO, OSCE and the UN. She is the Co-founder and President of the Italian antenna of WIIS – Women in International Security. She speaks Italian, English and French fluently.
MWMN Communication Officer and Mediterranean Expert
Francesca Caruso is a Junior Researcher and Communication Manager at the Istituto Affari Internazionali. As part of the MWMN Secretariat, she coordinates the activities of the Cyprus Antenna and works on the development of initiatives in the Southern shore of the Mediterranean. Additionally, she is in charge of the organization of the webinars and coordinates the publication of the newsletters. Her other research projects mainly deal with the EU-MENA region relations and its geopolitical shifts, regional order and domestic transformations. Her main areas of interests are Political Islam and State-society relations in North Africa (and in particular in Algeria), and peace and security in Sub-saharan Africa. Since December 2019, Francesca have been working as a Consultant for the Community of Sant’Egidio in the Peace Division. Within the Community of Sant’Egidio, she has recently worked for a peace-building project in the Central African Republic. She speaks French, Italian and English fluently, and has an intermediate level of Arabic.
MWMN Mediterranean Expert
Silvia Colombo is a Senior Fellow in the Mediterranean and Middle East Programme and Head of Italy’s Foreign Policy Programme at the Istituto Affari Internazionali. As part of the MWMN Secretariat, she coordinates and develops the research dimension of the project also overseeing its publications. She is an expert on Middle Eastern politics and conducts research on Euro-Mediterranean cooperation, transatlantic relations in the Mediterranean, and domestic and regional politics in the Arab World. Her interests also include the relations between the European Union and the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council. She speaks Italian, English and Arabic fluently and has travelled extensively in the Middle Eastern region.
MWMN Project Assistant
Giorgia Santamaria is a Project Assistant at the Istituto Affari Internazionali and an active member of the Italian antenna of WIIS – Women in International Security. She provides support to the MWMN Secretariat in the conduct of daily activities and general management and is provides logistical support for to the activities carried out by the Network. Additionally, she is the contact person for the Turkey Antenna and works on the development of initiatives in the Balkans. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations and Human Rights and a Master’s degree in International Conflict Studies. She speaks Italian, English and French fluently and has some knowledge of Spanish and German.
MWMN Programme Assistant
Nathalie Champion is a Programme Assistant of the Mediterranean & Middle East Programme at the Istituto Affari Internazionali. As part of the MWMN Secretariat, she is in charge of the organizational aspects of the activities and oversees and coordinates the logistics of the project’s activities. She speaks French, Italian and English fluently. She provides administrative and logistics support to all activities conducted within the numerous projects of the Mediterranean & Middle East Programme.
Communications Officer (WIIS)
Alessandra Dardes is a freelance journalist-publicist with a background in Political Sciences and an active member of the Italian antenna of WIIS – Women in International Security. As a communications expert, she is in charge of the social media managing the Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts of the MWMN and assists in the publication of the Network’s newsletter. Her previous work includes having conducted analysis on legislative procedures, assisting in the drafting of documentations and reports, background research and public relations at the Italian Parliament. Additionally, she collaborates with the Ministry of Defence’s magazine on European Defence issues. She speaks Italian and English fluently.