#HerStories from the  Mediterranean Women Mediators Network

Women play a significant role in peacebuilding and mediation but their voices often remain unheard and their work invisible to the wider public. With the goal of increasing the visibility and amplifying the voices of women peacebuilders, Magda Zenon, Cypriot member of the MWMN, in collaboration with UN Women has developed a podcast series entitled “#HerStories”. 

In each episode a different member of the MWMN will narrate her story. From diverse contexts and with different challenges, each will share her experiences, her success story and will reflect on the role women play in peacebuilding.

TRAILER: #HerStories from the Mediterranean Women Mediators Network

by Magda Zenon

Listen to the episodes

Episode 1: Edita Tahiri – The only woman peace negotiator in the Balkans

Former Deputy Prime Minister of Kosovo Edita Tahiri speaks on #HerStories of participating in a number of international peace processes and as Chief Negotiator of Kosovo at the EU facilitated Dialogue on normalization of neighbourly relations between Kosovo and Serbia (2011-2017).

She also speaks about her experience as the Chief Negotiator of Kosovo in the EU mediated peace talks with Serbia and of being a signatory of the first ever-reached agreement between Kosovo and Serbia, after 20 years of peace talks.

Episode 3: Ayşe Betül Çelik – Teaching gender-sensitive mediation to diverse groups of women

A Professor at Sabanci University in Istanbul and an expert on women in peacebuilding and inter-group dialogue, Ayşe Betül Çelik speaks on #HerStories of her focus on ethnicity, forced migration, reconciliation, civil society, and gender in peacebuilding and peace-making and how she actively works to teach gender-sensitive mediation and organize conflict resolution dialogue groups among diverse group of women in Turkey. 



Episode 5: Emine Çolak – Focussing on the legislation attached to a comprehensive peace plan

As a member of several cross-community dialogue groups for reconciliation and reunification focusing on tangible ways to resolve the frozen conflict, Turkish Cypriot lawyer/barrister, Emine Çolak speaks on #HerStories of coordinating committees negotiating laws attached to the Annan Plan in 2004; a comprehensive peace solution proposal. As a co-founder and head of the Turkish Cypriot Human Rights Foundation for 10 years, she also speaks of working to elevate the standard of human rights in her community through awareness raising, reporting and legal challenges also contributing to the formation of the Immoveable Property Commission to solve property disputes pending a solution.

Episode 7: Karma Ekmekji – #Diplowomen



Former International Affairs and Relations Advisor to former PM of Lebanon Saad Hariri, Karma Ekmekji speaks on #HerStories about the need to connect all the dots (the local, national, regional, global and diplomatic), stemming from a strong interest in empowering women in the field of diplomacy, peace-making, mediation and negotiation. In addition to that, she speaks about #Diplowomen,  a physical and digital platform that she recently founded in order to empower women through knowledge sharing, mentoring and networking. 

Episode 9: Hafida Benchehida – The best bridge towards peace revealed….

Algerian Senator and an active member of several regional networks Hafida Benchehida discusses her dedication to the political participation of women and in peace processes on #HerStories and about the value of mediation and negotiation in her region and how the best bridge towards peace is speaking to people in their language or listening to their stories.

Episode 11: Vesna Škare Ožbolt – Mediating under the most expectant conditions

Vesna Škare Ožbolt a lawyer and active member of the political scene in Croatia speaks on #HerStories of her experience as the leading negotiator with the rebel Serbs in the war-affected areas, as the Deputy Special Envoy to the Croatian-Serbian Peace Talks and as a member of the Croatian delegation in the Bosnia and Herzegovina peace process. She spoke of being pregnant during some of these tough times and participating the implementation of a peaceful reintegration of the Eastern part of Croatia, of the local elections and amnesty and of coordinating activities between the UNTAES, Croatian refugees, representatives of international organizations (UNHCR, OESS, IOM, etc.) and rebel Serbs amongst other things.

Episode 13: Maria Hadjipavlou – An academic and an activist in one

Retired Associate Professor from the University of Cyprus, a feminist, a conflict resolution expert & a gender & peace activist Maria Hadjipavlou speaks on #HerStories of conducting trainings in conflict resolution and gender-awareness building especially in conflict situations in several countries.  She speaks of her activist work and especially about the “Gender Advisory Team” which worked exclusively on implementing and integrating UNSC Resolution 1325 in the Cypriot negotiations. She also speaks of being appointed a member of the Technical Committee on Gender Equality advising peace negotiators on gender equality provisions and of the challenges and opportunities this presented.

Episode 15: Maria Solanas – Mediating within a governmental framework

Gender focal point & director of programmes at Elcano Royal Institute, Maria Solanas speaks on #HerStories of her political experience as a senior adviser on International Affairs at the Spanish Prime Minister Office responsible for Latin America, Asia-Pacific and Sub-Saharan Africa. Maria also speaks of her involvement in several negotiations within the governmental framework, as she has actively participated in the preparation of the II National Action Plan on WPS.

Episode 17: Laura Bologna – Diplomacy, international relations, intergovernmental processes, mediation, elections and the inclusion of WPS

Political Affairs Officer and Gender Focal Point at the Department of Political & Peacebuilding Affairs at UN Secretariat HQ Laura Bologna speaks on #HerStories of her over 20 years of experience in diplomacy, international relations in the field of peace and security, intergovernmental processes, mediation, elections and gender and her wide network of contacts especially in Africa. She spoke of her time in Sudan in the Office of the Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel for the Sudan Referenda, and in Nicosia in the Office of the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Cyprus where she assisted during the negotiations in 2016.

Episode 19: Eynat Schlein – Success in negotiations, means accepting the existence of the non-negotiables of the other 

Israeli diplomat, senior analyst, and deputy DG for African Affairs Eynat Schlein speaks on #HerStories of being a career diplomat in the Foreign Service, of speaking fluent Arabic and why it is important, of specializing in the Middle East region, the Israeli-Arab relations and American affairs, and promoting dialog and understanding in the region and of her posting in Jordan.

Episode 2: Patricia Quillacq – Mediation goes environmental

While not pursuing a career as a ‘traditional’ mediator, International & Environmental lawyer, Patricia Quillacq speaks on #HerStories of how she integrated the techniques and skills of mediation in her career, including while working for the Region of Tuscany, and later as a consultant for the Project GoverNat which dealt with participatory processes in managing water and biodiversity.

Episode 4: Rada Borić – Connecting the local to the global and including the feminine form

Activist, feminist linguist and political activist Rada Borić spoke on #HerStories of editing the first Finnish-Croatian / Croatian-Finnish dictionary, ensuring that all nouns included both the feminine and masculine forms and of returning to Zagreb as the start of the Bosnian War, and working at the Center for Women Victims of War. She also speaks of a life-changing meeting with writer Eve Ensler, and together with other women involved in the movement to end violence against women of launching V-Day, to raise awareness globally. The movement kicked off in 1998 with a production of The Vagina Monologues, aimed to raise funds to support community anti-violence groups and programs.

Episode 6: Alexandra M. Dias – Mediation across societal, civilizational and gender-based divides

International Relations scholar and Africanist based at the Department of Political Studies of NOVA University of Lisbon Alexandra Magnolia Dias speaks on #HerStories of her several research projects on Conflict, Peace and Security in Africa with fieldwork experience in the Horn of Africa; of mediation across divides: societal, civilizational and gender-based ones; and of the similarities and differences between what she knew of the Horn of Africa and what she saw when she visited Cyprus.




Episode 8: On designing mediation systems and various ADR schemes, including the integration of women

Katerina Kresal is President and Founder of the European Centre for Dispute Resolution, a regional institutional provider of alternative dispute resolution procedures and consulting institution for the Rule of Law projects, based in Ljubljana. She speaks on #HerStories about her engagement in various international projects as international consultant and about her specific expertise as Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) expert, in designing mediation systems and various ADR schemes. Apart from her extensive legal career, she talks about her time as Minister of the Interior, member of the National Assembly (MP), and President of the Slovenian parliamentary party Liberal Democracy.

Episode 10: Anna Cervi – On an active and transformative role in gender equality, peace and security

With ten years’ experience with International Non-Governmental Organisations in Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Darfur, supporting peace and reconciliation processes through humanitarian interventions Anna Cervi, an Italian International Humanitarian Officer speaks passionately on #HerStories about dealing with the immediate basic needs on the ground of IDP’s and refugees, while at the same time having to connect to local, national, regional and international bodies. She also speaks of her hopes to further contribute to playing an active and transformative role on gender equality, peace and security.

Episode 12: Soad Shalaby – Combining Sustainable Development, and the WPS agenda

As an Egyptian diplomat who has served her country for 40 years including as ambassador to several countries, Soad Shalaby is particularly proud of having served for ten years as Member of the Council of the International Institute of Humanitarian Law in San Remo – http://iihl.org/ – and of the work done there. She also speaks on #HerStories of being a member of the AU Panel of Experts for the Evaluation of the African Standby Force in 2014; a member of the POW team for the Evaluation of the present Kenyan pre Presidential Election; and of having headed the COMESA team for monitoring the parliamentarian election in the Kingdom of Swaziland.

Episode 14: Dalal Iriqat – About better branding Palestine

VP for International Relations & Assistant Professor at the Arab American University in Palestine, Dalal Iriqat speaks passionately on #HerStories about bringing change into Palestinian society through education, and about improving Palestinian Diplomacy and better branding Palestine. Being a strong believer in the individual role in bringing change and being very passionate about bringing change through education and especially through her background in conflict resolution, mediation and diplomacy, she speaks of the resilience and creativity of the Palestinian women.

Episode 16: Rida Al-Tubuly – On the importance of inter-generational diversity

University professor & Co-founder of NGO ‘Together We Build It’ Rida Al-Tubulyspeaks on #HerStories of TWBI, an organization that aims to empower women and young women. Rida is a strong advocate for young women’s full participation in decision making and peacebuilding as well as “intergenerational diversity”. She speaks of her strong will to participate in building peace in Libya, grounded in her personal experience of war for the last 8 years and her success in supporting Libyan women participation in the high level meeting held in November 2018. in Palermo, Italy to support the holding of the Libyan National Conference and national elections in 2019.

Episode 18: Yakin Ertürk – From the Peace Train to Beijing in 1995 to carefully unpacking the words mediation and negotiation

Emerita Professor at the Middle East Technical University, Ankara and holder of international positions & HR mandates, Yakin Ertürk speaks on #HerStories of her experience as a member of commissions of inquiry on human rights violations in two major conflict zones, viz the Republic of Kyrgyzstan and the Syrian Arab Republic; of being on the Peace Train to Beijing in 1995 and also on the need to carefully unpack the words mediation and negotiation.




Episode 20: Milica Pejanović-Djurišić – Digitally transforming a rebuilt state with mediation

Milica Pejanović-Djurišić, Permanent Representative of Montenegro to UN speaks on #HerStories about being part of the process to rebuild the state of Montenegro following the collapse of the former Yugoslavia and during the Bosnian war, while keeping civil society fully engaged, and of her role in fostering the digital transformation of Montenegro and the region.