Emine Çolak is a Turkish Cypriot lawyer/barrister practicing in Nicosia since 1982, specializing in human rights. For 25 years, she has trained in and used mediation and negotiation skills professionally and in activism. She is member of several cross community dialogue groups for reconciliation and reunification focusing on tangible ways to resolve the frozen conflict. She coordinated Committees negotiating laws attached to the comprehensive solution proposal, the Annan Plan in 2004. As a co-founder and head of the Turkish Cypriot Human Rights Foundation for 10 years, she worked 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. She speaks fluent Turkish and English and reasonable French. During 2015 and 2016 she served as the Foreign Minister of her community. She considers her expertise to be in conflict dynamics arising after independence in former colonies with communities clashing over ethnic/linguistic differences believing that reinforcing human rights is an essential tool for overcoming disputes within and between communities. Being dedicated to achieving gender equality and the effective participation of women in all fields of life and governance she regards the absence of enough women and gender sensitivity peace processes is clearly a major cause of the limited success of many of them. Consequently, she is now a member of the Women Mediators Across the Commonwealth and the Mediterranean Women Mediators networks, and co-founder of its Cyprus Antenna.
Laura Bologna is a Political Affairs Officer at the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA) at UNHQ in New York since 2000, after having served in the diplomatic service at the Permanent Mission of San Marino to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg where she focused on human rights and gender. Laura is part of the Network as Member from the Mediterranean region and can contribute thanks to her extensive and direct experience in mediation processes as well as her wide network of contacts in the region and in Africa. She brings over 20 years of experience in diplomacy, international relations in the field of peace and security, intergovernmental processes, conflict prevention, mediation, elections and gender. For several years, she focused on Africa, in particular the Great Lakes region, Eastern and Southern Africa and Sudan. She served in UN peace operations including Nepal in 2007, in Sudan in the Office of the Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel for the Sudan Referenda in 2011, and in Nicosia in the Office of the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Cyprus where she assisted during the negotiations in 2016. Over the last few years, she focused on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the relative peace process. She has extensive knowledge on UNSR 1325 and women peace and security issues as well as gender parity. She holds a master degree in Political Science and International Affairs from the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan.
Layık Topcan Mesutoğlu is a town planner with over 40 years of experience. She graduated from the Middle East Technical University in Ankara. After 36 years of serving in the Town Planning Department of Northern Cyprus she retired as deputy director of the department. Currently, she serves as a consultant on planning and environmental issues. She is a member of the High Committee of Historical and Cultural Heritage. During 2015 – 2020, she was involved in the Cyprus peace negotiations as a member of the Turkish Cypriot Property Working Group.
She has trained in historic preservation, strategic planning and management, sustainable development, gender policies in development planning, and EU environmental acquis. She is a trained mediator and a facilitator.
Ms. Topcan Mesutoğlu has been active in civil society in women, environment, and peace. She has been actively working for the achievement of the goals of sustainable development, environmental protection, historical and cultural heritage conservation, gender equality, and peace.
Ms. Topcan Mesutoğlu regards the absence of gender sensitivity and effective participation of women in peace processes as one of the major constraints preventing success in many conflict prevention and resolution efforts. She considers achieving gender equality and justice, the participation of women in decision-making in all fields of life as a vital element for a sustainable future.
Her strong belief and dedication in the empowerment of women, lead her to join the Mediterranean Women Mediators family and even further motivated her to be one of the co-initiators of MWMN Cyprus Antenna, to strengthen the role of women as active change agents in peace-building, environmental protection and all other areas of life.
Magda Zenon is a peace and human rights activist who brings with her a perspective formed within the contexts of having lived in apartheid South Africa, Greece, and now divided Cyprus. She is an active member of the local civil society with a focus on the integration of a gender perspective in peace processes. She has helped found several civil society organizations, including “Hands Across the Divide”, “the Gender Advisory Team”, and the Cyprus Women’s Lobby and is also a member of the Mediterranean Women Mediators Network and the Women Mediators of the Commonwealth network. She has helped organise a variety of events with multicultural women’s and youth groups, including two innovative events whose intention it was to broaden the base of active women on the island. The first was the ‘Pathways towards Sustainable Peace: Building UNSC Res 1325 on the Women, Peace and Security Agenda in Cyprus’ conference in 2017 that brought together over 50 local women to discuss women, peace and security. The second was the ‘Women in Peacebuilding and Mediation in Cyprus: Where we Are and Where to Next?’ workshop in 2018 that brought together a diverse group of women from throughout the island to assess the status of the women’s peacebuilding movement in Cyprus and analyse obstacles and challenges limiting women’s meaningful participation in formal peace-talks. Finally, she is a great believer in the power of storytelling and for over 6 years has hosted online conversations entitled kaleidHERscope with inspiring women from around the world about peacebuilding, gender-based violence and women’s participation in decision-making.
Maria Hadjipavlou, is a retired Associate Professor from the University of Cyprus. She holds a Ph.D. in Social and Political Change from Boston University, was a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard University and member of its International Conflict Analysis and Resolution Program. She cofounded the Center on International Conflict Resolution at Columbia University. She published widely on gender related issues, conflict resolution and peacebuilding on which she also coordinated a number of research projects and is often invited to universities and international fora to share her experience. She conducts training in conflict resolution and gender awareness building especially in conflict situations including for UNFPA and has trained women in several countries. She is currently working on a book on 40 years of peace engagement work in Cyprus. Her book Women and Change in Cyprus: Feminisms, Gender and Conflict (I.B.Tauris, 2010) has become a reference book. As an activist, she was a founding member and president of the NGO “Cyprus Peace Center”; of “Hands Across the Divide”; and a co-founder of the Cyprus Academic Dialogue and the “Gender Advisory Team” working exclusively on implementing and integrating UNSC Resolution 1325 in the Cypriot negotiations. In 2015, she was appointed member of the Technical Committee on Gender Equality advising peace negotiators on gender equality provisions. She has been a founding member of the MWMN because she strongly believes that women’s meaningful participation in peace processes and post conflict peace building is not only a democratic right but has also proven to contribute to sustainable peace and gender equality efforts. She has been instrumental in establishing the MWMN/Cyprus Antenna in 2019.
Özge Özoğul is the Operations Officer of the Association for Historical Dialogue and Research (AHDR), a multi-communal civil society organization that plays a role in the peacebuilding process in Cyprus through education. She is pursuing a Ph.D. in the Basque Country in the Doctoral Program ‘Education: School, Language and Society’. She is from Nicosia, Cyprus, and graduated from the University of Southampton, the United Kingdom. She received her M.A. degree from the University of Groningen, the Netherlands, in Multilingualism with a specialization in Multilingual Education and Language Policy Planning. She had opportunities to enhance her knowledge and skills in peacebuilding and mediation further through her position at the AHDR and attending trainings, which encouraged her to connect with mediators and be actively engaged in mediation. She became a member of the MWMN in order to learn with and from members; to give visibility to women’s voices locally, regionally and internationally; advocate for the implementation of UN Security Council Resolutions; and to strengthen collaboration between WPS and YPS agendas. One of her values is reflection which contributes to her being an effective practitioner, and nurtures responsibility, creativity and advancement. Through her position, she plays an active role in crafting and implementing educational interventions that i) promote dialogue, cooperation and trust between different communities in Cyprus, and within each community; ii) foster critical thinking, multi-perspectivity and historical understanding; and iii) provide spaces for inquiry and peer to peer learning. She also facilitates peace education workshops.
Esra Çuhadar is an associate professor at the Department of Political Science at Bilkent University in Turkey and a senior fellow at the Inclusive Peace and Transition Initiative in Geneva. Previously a Jennings Randolph Senior Fellow at the United States Institute of Peace, and a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, she also worked at Sabancı University, Istanbul. She received her M.A, Ph.D. and an advanced graduate certificate in applied conflict resolution from Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University. She has been published widely in top academic journals and in over twenty book chapters and has won numerous research grants on inclusive peace processes, mediation, track two diplomacy and role of civil society in peacebuilding, evaluation of peacebuilding, negotiation pedagogy, and political leadership. She has also conducted numerous trainings and consultations in negotiation and mediation processes for various groups and organizations around the world. She has been working as a regional mediator for the World Bank in Turkey and Caucasus since 2011 and in the mediation roster of the OSCE since 2015. She was elected as a member of the International Society for Political Psychology Governing Council (2010-2012) and also served as a board member of the European Mediation Network Initiative between 2007 and 2010. She is a core member of the MWNM and the MWMN Turkey antenna launched in 2019 as it allows her to share mediation expertise with other women and act in solidarity to face challenges to women’s inclusion in peace processes.