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Gender Perspectives in Mediation

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Gender Perspectives in Private Law

Part of the book series: Gender Perspectives in Law ((GPL,volume 4))

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People’s lives are accompanied by conflicts as an inseparable part of interpersonal relationships. Although often considered with a negative connotation, conflicts also have progressive potential, and its use will depend on the method of conflict resolution. This possibility is provided by mediation as an amiable method of dispute settlement. Experience shows that the dynamics, communication, and behaviour of the parties are influenced by many factors among which the cultural and gender-natured differences in behavioral patterns of men and women are of special importance. Based on their mediation-conducting knowledge and experience, the authors advocate for increasing the gender responsiveness of mediation and emphasize the need for consideration of gender dimensions of conflicts and its impact on the mediation process. Particular attention is given to the importance of performing gender-sensitive conflict analysis, the need for addressing gender-based power imbalance and the prevention of harmful influences of gender stereotypes and prejudices on the quality of mediation process and its possible outcomes. Gender dimensions of the mediability of mixed-gender conflicts as well as challenges of mediation in cases related to gender-based violence are also explored.

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  1. 1.

    Arsić (2006), p. 74.

  2. 2.

    Arsić (2020), p. 4.

  3. 3.

    Petrušić and Arsić (2021), p. 167.

  4. 4.

    Becker and Sibley (2016), p. 318.

  5. 5.

    See Coleman (2001); Cusack (2014), p. 22; Cislaghi and Heise (2020); Halilović et al. (2017), p. 17; Petrušić et al. (2015), p. 34; UN General Assembly, Independence of judges and lawyers, A/66/289, 10 August 2011.

  6. 6.

    See, for example, Maxwell (1992); Watson (1994); Nelson et al. (2010); Menkel-Meadow (2012); Manea et al. (2020).

  7. 7.

    See, for example, Burrell et al. (1988); Izumi (2017).

  8. 8.

    See, for example, Neumann (1992); Kelly (1995); Lang (2004); Field (2016).

  9. 9.

    See Klein (2005).

  10. 10.

    UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000), S/RES/1325 (2000), 31 October 2000.

  11. 11.

    Unfortunately, so far, these issues have not been the subject of much interest of scholars and practitioners in our home country - Serbia.

  12. 12.

    Kovach (2004), pp. 142–155.

  13. 13.

    Moore (2003), pp. 118–144.

  14. 14.

    Moore (2003), pp. 118–144.

  15. 15.

    In the case of mixed-gender conflict, this would imply that mediation is conducted by two mediators of different gender, considering that such an approach might support the gender balance in mediation.

  16. 16.

    See Stamato (1992), Beham and Dietrich (2013); Tielemans (2015).

  17. 17.

    See Bordean et al. (2000).

  18. 18.

    See Moore (2003), pp. 128–136; Meierding (2004); Friedman and Himmelstein (2008).

  19. 19.

    See Field (2016).

  20. 20.

    See Milaney and Williams (2018).

  21. 21.

    Milne (2004), pp. 320–324.

  22. 22.

    See Sudhakar and Kuehnast (2011).

  23. 23.

    See, for example, Eriksson and Sandberg (2012); UN Women (2014), p. 46.

  24. 24.

    See Schau and Meierding (2007).

  25. 25.

    Schau and Meierding (2007).

  26. 26.

    Strachan and Haider (2015), p. 14.

  27. 27.

    See Moore (2003), p. 205; See Kovach (2004), p. 72; Chaplin (2015).

  28. 28.

    See, for example, Love (2000); Moore (2003), p. 206; Meierding (2004), pp. 239–242.

  29. 29.

    See Bennet and Hermann (1996, p. 73); Nair (2008).

  30. 30.

    Kovach (2004), p. 71; Menkel-Meadow et al. (2019), p. 260.

  31. 31.

    According to the latest Global Gender Gap Report, the gender gap between women and men globally is 32% and it is now estimated that it will take 135.6 years to close the gender gap worldwide (World Economic Forum 2021).

  32. 32.

    Hughson (2018), p. 108.

  33. 33.

    United Nations Development Programme (2019), p. 158.

  34. 34.

    See Kelly (1995), pp. 88–89; Neumann (1992).

  35. 35.

    Spencer and Brogan (2006), pp. 111–118.

  36. 36.

    This is particularly evident in family mediation processes (See Field 1998).

  37. 37.

    Arsić (2014), pp. 118–121.

  38. 38.

    Theorists and practitioners have differing opinions on how to manage power imbalances in mediation. Moore advocates for the interventionist approach which requires the mediator to actively balance the power between the parties (Moore 2003). Some authors support the idea of empowering the parties to balance their own power, while emphasizing that the responsibility of mediators to manage power relations should revolve around the control over the mediation process only (Boulle and Nesic 2010). Astor underscores the need for attempting to maximize parties’ control of the mediation, pointing out that the principle of mediator neutrality should be abandoned (Astor 2007, pp. 225–226). However, there is also an opinion that in mediation, there is a space for a mediator to intervene, balancing the power between the parties without necessarily relinquishing their neutral status (Bogdanoski 2009).

  39. 39.

    See Landrum (2011).

  40. 40.

    See, for example, Field (2016); Krieger (2002); Wheeler (2002); Grillo (1991).

  41. 41.

    See Zylstra (2001).

  42. 42.

    See Semple (2012), p. 217. The problem of gender-based power imbalance in mediation was raised by feminist scholars in the 1970s and 1980s who argued that, due to gender differences, women do not have enough power and a sense of entitlement to the negotiation table (Kelly and Duryee 1992). However, subsequent research has shown that there is a higher level of women satisfaction with both the process and the outcome of family mediation (Kelly 1995).

  43. 43.

    See Jaffe et al. (2003).

  44. 44.

    Semple (2012), p. 217.

  45. 45.

    Gerencser (1995), p. 55.

  46. 46.

    See, for example, Ver Steegh (2003), p. 206.

  47. 47.

    See, for example, Beck et al. (2009).

  48. 48.

    See Beck and Frost (2007); Salem and Dunford-Jackson (2008); Ver Steegh and Dalton (2008); Ajduković et al. (2016), p. 389.

  49. 49.

    See, for example, Zylstra (2001).

  50. 50.

    Murphy and Rubinson (2005).

  51. 51.

    See Beck et al. (2009); Ajduković et al. (2016), pp. 405–406.

  52. 52.

    Murphy and Rubinson (2005), p. 54.

  53. 53.

    See, for example, Model Standards of Practice for Family and Divorce Mediation of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (2000), and the Policy on intimate partner violence and power imbalances of the Ontario Association for Family Mediation (2016).

  54. 54.

    See Standard X of the Model Standards of Practice for Family and Divorce Mediation.

  55. 55.

    See CEDAW General recommendation No. 33, CEDAW/C/GC/33, 23 July 2015.

  56. 56.

    See CEDAW General recommendation No. 33, para. 58.

  57. 57.

    See CEDAW General recommendation No. 35 on gender-based violence against women, updating general recommendation No. 19, CEDAW/C/GC/35, 14 July 2017, para. 45.

  58. 58.

    CEDAW General recommendation No. 35, para. 45.

  59. 59.

    CEDAW General recommendation No. 35, para. 45.

  60. 60.

    Council of Europe Recommendation No. R (98) 1 of the Committee of Ministers to Member States on Family Mediation, 21 January 1998.

  61. 61.

    See Article 48, para. 1 of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.

  62. 62.

    See Explanatory Report to the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, CETS No. 210, 11 May 2011, 42.

  63. 63.

    Konstantinović Vilić (2006), p. 120; Arsić (2006), p. 85.

  64. 64.

    Situational violence has been recognized as a type of domestic violence, in addition to coercive controlling violence, violent resistance and separation-instigated violence (Kelly and Johnson 2008).

  65. 65.

    See Petrušić et al. (2014). Research about mediation and domestic violence done by Keys Young in 1996 showed that positive mediation experiences do occur, and that there is a higher level of satisfaction with mediation agreements “where mediators: asked specific questions about violence or abuse, including non-physical types of abuse or harassment; offered women specific guidance in considering the possible impact of violence or abuse on the mediation process; offered women separate time with the mediator to disclose or discuss any concerns before, during and after mediation sessions; worked as a gender-balanced co-mediation team; demonstrated that they understood the woman’s concerns both within and outside the mediation session by implementing specific strategies to deal with those concerns; demonstrated that they could control abusive behavior in the session and/or assist the woman to deal with it; and assisted the woman to deal with any harassment or intimidation that occurred outside the actual mediation session itself” (Young 1996 cited by Bailey and Bickerdike 2005, p. 12).

  66. 66.

    Craver (2017), p. 909; Arsić (2009), p. 180.

  67. 67.

    Izumi (2017), p. 685.

  68. 68.

    Thus, for example, a friendly relationship with a person belonging to a social group, in relation to which negative stereotypes and prejudices exist, consciously excludes the activation of stereotypes. For a modern research on this issue, see Kunda and Spencer (2003, p. 523); Ito and Tomelleri (2017); Izumi (2017, p. 690). Atkins and others have even developed a special intervention model which supports these behavioral changes, including the instructions for its use (Atkins et al. 2017).

  69. 69.

    Abrams (2010), p. 50.

  70. 70.

    For example, from an early age, girls who behave assertively in a conflict are often labelled as “difficult” or “big-headed”, while boys who behave in the same way are praised for being “strong” or “self-assured”. Over time, these behaviors become ingrained and lead to women being more likely to show kindness and cooperativeness when in interaction with the opposite sex. See Sheldon (1997), p. 227.

  71. 71.

    See Craver (2017).

  72. 72.

    See Beaton and Vick (2012).

  73. 73.

    See Moore (2003), p. 58.

  74. 74.

    See Beaton and Vick (2012); Omotunde (2015), p. 2.

  75. 75.

    Internalized oppression occurs when an oppressed and marginalized person over time and through series of events learns to put himself/herself in a distress pattern (David and Derthick 2014, p. 2).

  76. 76.

    Petrušić et al. (2014), p. 77.

  77. 77.

    See Ćuk Milankov (2009), p. 79.

  78. 78.

    Ćuk Milankov (2009), pp. 79–80.

  79. 79.

    See Field (2006).

  80. 80.

    Petrušić and Arsić (2021), p. 175.

  81. 81.

    Graycar (2008), p. 76.

  82. 82.

    Halilović et al. (2017), p. 17.

  83. 83.

    Armour (1995), p. 771.

  84. 84.

    Petrušić et al. (2014), p. 73.


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Arsić, J., Petrušić, N. (2023). Gender Perspectives in Mediation. In: Carapezza Figlia, G., Kovačević, L., Kristoffersson, E. (eds) Gender Perspectives in Private Law. Gender Perspectives in Law, vol 4. Springer, Cham.

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