A one-day workshop for Women Parliamentarians and Politicians on Conflict Management and Negotiation Styles was organised by PILDAT with support from the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Pakistan Office on Monday August 7, 2006 at the Hotel Best Western, Islamabad. In his opening remarks Mr. Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, Executive Director, PILDAT highlighted that although women play a very vital role in contributing to the resolution of conflict situations and in peace-building, women’s role in conflict management and resolution in Pakistan is underutilized. Elaborating on the importance of women parliamentarians in contributing to the resolution of conflictual situations, he said that they can act as mediators in conflict situations at the local, national, regional and international spheres. He said that this workshop will provide an opportunity for women to learn about improving their skills and strategies towards successfully advocating for women’s issues and issues that impact women. He further added that this workshop will provide them with valuable insights and skills to use in their work and help them achieve their goals that meet their interests better.
The workshop was conducted by Ms. Nina Sughrue, a leading international specialist in conflict management who has been involved in the coordination and implementation of conflict resolution training programmes in Asia and the Middle East. Ms. Sughrue pointed out that mediation skills are crucial to undertaking peaceful negotiations and to conflict resolution. She added that in order to be a good negotiator one needed to understand one’s own negotiation styles as well as the other side’s styles of negotiating. Highlighting the importance of negotiating skills in managing and resolving differences, she stressed the importance of understanding your and the other party’s position and interests in the negotiation process. Talking on the four major negotiation styles of being collaborating, compromising, competing and avoiding, Ms. Sughrue said that collaborating style was the most effective to use in negotiation between two parties. She added that this represented the interests of both parties equally and was a win win situation. She further explained that position during negotiation is what individuals say they want whereas interests are going past someone’s position to look at what and why they want to do something. She pointed out that focusing on interests during negotiation can ease problem solving based on shared or compatible goals.
The participants evinced a keen interest and actively participated in the group discussions and self assessment sessions as well as involvement in a series of negotiation simulation exercises. They highlighted the current conflict situations in Pakistan such as in Balochistan and expressed interest in being involved in the resolution of these conflicts. There were twenty-nine attendees including Women parliamentarians and politicians from all major parties, for instance: PML, PML-N, PPPP, MQM, MMAP and PTI participated in the workshop.