Women, Peace and Security

Women in the Spotlight

Women experts around the world are increasingly involved in efforts to prevent conflict, negotiate peace agreements, rebuild societies, and strengthen democratic processes.

The Department of Political Affairs plays a central role in the United Nation’s efforts to prevent and resolve conflict, and contributes directly to the organization’s work to promote peace and support democratic processes, including through supporting conflict mediation processes and coordinating UN electoral assistance activities.

Over the past several years, the DPA has expanded its ability to provide timely and high-quality technical support to Member States, as per their request, in the areas of mediation and electoral assistance. As part of this effort, the Department is committed to promoting women’s effective participation in peacemaking and political processes, including by “leading by example”. The Department also continues to take steps in ensuring balanced representation of both men and women experts in its standby capacity as well as in its expert rosters.


To celebrate the UN's 70th anniversary, the DPA wanted to highlight the work of women experts in places ranging from Afghanistan to Guinea and Yemen in support of conflict mediation and electoral processes.


Einas Ahmed
“In many societies, women represent more than 50 per cent of the population and the first to be seriously affected by conflicts, wars and economic crises. Mothers play the key role of raising and educating daughters and sons about universal values, such as peace and equality.”
Worked in: Sudan, Libya and Burundi
Speaks: Arabic, English and French
Challenge experienced: I encountered resistance of our interlocutors who did not really acknowledge my experience and I had difficulties getting my way of thinking approved. I had to pass my messages through my male colleagues, who were international advisors.

Read Einas' interview on Politically Speaking


Rina Amiri

"As a professional, particularly in mediation, one’s identity can be a critical to succeeding in one’s work. This requires honestly assessing how one’s characteristics—including cultural background, age and gender—may serve as a liability or advantage to gaining access and trust.”

Worked in: Afghanistan, Cyprus, Nigeria, Pakistan, Senegal, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, and Ukraine.
Speaks: Dari, English, French
Challenge experienced: Given the growing security threats as against the UN, it would be mobility and outreach.

Read Rina's interview on Politically Speaking


 Margaret Amanda Anaminyi

"My first job involved registering persons. I was in charge of issuing new ID cards to Kenyans in one of our districts. This experience later helped me when I joined the UN and participated in this activity in the DR Congo."

Worked in: Cote d'Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Guinea.
Speaks: English, French, Luhya, Swahili
Challenge experienced: One time, in an election counting centre, the local population thought the United Nations was on the side of the Government, and threatened to attack UN staff.
Read Margaret's interview on Politically Speaking


 Shuhub Mohammed Najeeb
"Women now are stronger. They are better educated than before, more tolerant, and there are tremendous changes for change for the better."
Worked in: Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Yemen.
Speaks: Arabic, English
Challenge experienced: During my first assignment in Libya, my training focal point told me point-blank: "I heard you will lead the training section, but I want you to bear in mind that in our society we tend to look at women's leadership with a great deal of mistrust."

Read Shuhub's interview on Politically Speaking


Sanam Naraghi-Anderlini
“Women bring the human experience of war to the table - they talk about men and boys and themselves - they show us that war is deeply personal and traumatic and that the desire and willingness to engage in peacemaking is also universal. This agenda has helped us humanize the discussions at the UN and in peace talks. It is essential for peacemaking.” 

Worked In: Central African Republic, Fiji, Guinea-Bissau, Jamaica, Kenya, Liberia, Nepal, Senegal, Somalia, and Syria (through the Geneva office).
Speaks: English, Farsi, French, Italian
Challenge experienced: The greatest challenge is trying to overcome the false assumptions, resistance and misunderstandings regarding the issue of engaging women leaders active in civil society in peace talks and calling for gender perspectives.

Read Sanam's interview on Politically Speaking


Graciela Tapia

“As women, our contributions depend on how we are perceived in each context. In many cultures, women are perceived as being less threatening and are well placed to facilitate difficult discussions among negotiating sides and promote a less aggressive atmosphere. I feel that being a woman makes it easier to connect with strong emotions and victims’ suffering without being perceived as being weak.”

Worked in: Kyrgyzstan, Colombia, Perú, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador, Argentina.
Speaks: English, Spanish
Challenge experienced:  I was part of a mediation team to promote spaces of dialogue at the grassroots levels in violent territories, and to support high-level peace process negotiations. The dialogue was around conflicts related to natural resources, such as land and oil industries. Our UN team realized we would need to deal with violent actors coming to spoil the process.
Read Graciela's interview on Politically Speaking


Marie-Joelle Zahar

"When I deployed in support of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) mediation team at the Algiers peace talks, I was the only woman on the team. I was later joined by a young female colleague. She was in charge of logistics but was interested in and had good instincts on mediation. I took it upon myself to bring her along into negotiation sessions and build her capacity.”
Worked in: Bangladesh, Belgium, Central African Republic, Egypt, Mali, Nepal, Norway, and Switzerland.
Speaks: Arabic, English, French
Challenge experienced: Being taken seriously as a woman expert.

Read Marie-Joelle's interview on Politically Speaking


Margaret Amanda Anaminyi participates on the United Nations Single Electoral Roster, a list of individuals who can provide specialized technical assistance on relatively short notice to governments and national electoral management bodies. Get more information on the United Nations Single Electoral Roster.
Rina Amiri and Marie-Joelle Zahar are members of the United Nations Standby Team. Established in 2008, the Standby Team is a group of full-time mediation experts who can rapidly deploy to provide technical advice to United Nations officials and other leading mediation and conflict prevention efforts.
Sanam Naraghi-Anderlin is a member of the Mediation Roster. This roster is a niche roster focused on mediation expertise and consisting of some 300 qualified members. It is a second-level response capacity which complements the Mediation Support Unit's Headquarters-based staff and its Standby Team. Alumni of the Standby Team automatically become part of the Mediation Roster. For more information, please contact peacemaker(at)un(dot)org.