What we do

Athena's approach integrates process issues with technical substance and offers a range of support to those working in and on mediation, conflict resolution, peacemaking and peacebuilding. This includes:

• Direct, practical advice and technical support to mediators, peace process actors and women in and around peace processes;
• Agreement text drafting and review;
• Programme and policy development, design and implementation;
• Mentoring, coaching and side-by-side support to officials and other peace process actors to strengthen good practice;
• Representation, communications materials and advocacy;
• Advising and working with counterparts on the drafting of Regional and National Action Plans related to the eight women peace and security UN Security Council resolutions;
• Policy relevant research and analysis;
• Provision of country and issue briefs on a range of peace and security themes;
• Training, coaching and mentoring;
• Evaluation of programmes and policies;
• Peer reviews of analytical material;
• Substance editing, drafting and remedial work on text of all kinds (agreements, policies, reports);
• Dissemination and messaging of policy and practitioner analysis across various forms of media, policy communities and networks.

With Athena’s extensive networks across international institutions, civil society, and governments, we have significant experience developing communications strategies, creating and delivering presentations to diverse audiences and for various processes including confidential meetings and processes, conferences, seminars and workshops.

Demonstrating for equal citizenship and equal rights for men and women in Beirut, Lebanon  © Jenny Gustafsson/Courtesy of IRIN www.irinnews.org
Demonstrating for equal citizenship and equal rights for men and women in Beirut, Lebanon © Jenny Gustafsson/Courtesy of IRIN www.irinnews.org

An endorsement for Athena from Ram Manikkalingam, Director, Dialogue Advisory Group and former Senior Advisor on the peace process to former Sri Lankan President Kumaratunga: "Athena knows how to use gender to make peace. It engages women on the ground in armed conflicts and in international policy debates on how to resolve them."

Examples of current and past work include:

  • Cate Buchanan is currently one of nine Senior Mediation Advisers in the Standby Team of Experts of the UN Mediation Support Unit in the Department of Political Affairs (Process Design; Gender & Inclusion). This includes a mix of operational processes and training & policy work including facilitator and lead resource person for the 2018 Experts Group process on women’s meaningful participation in peace processes and gender-inclusive peace agreements; resource person for annual events such as the UN Ceasefire Course and the UN High Level Seminar on Gender and Mediation for peace envoys convened by UN Department for Political Affairs in cooperation with PRIO and Crisis Management Initiative.
  • Athena seconds staff to peace support initiatives such as Cate Buchanan (2015-2017) to the Nyein (Shalom) Foundation in the role of Senior Peacebuilding Adviser deployed via DAI with USAID Office of Transition Initiatives support to provide strategic advice on programme development and to support their work with the armed groups including providing technical (e.g. negotiation preparedness, inclusion, funding modalities) and process design advice (e.g. lead adviser on the first and second rounds of ethnic national dialogues in 2016 and 2017).
  • Technical and process design advice to the Myanmar Alliance for Gender Inclusion in the Peace Process to establish itself and develop policy analysis (2014-2015).
  • Analyst and Chief Editor role to undertake a major technical revision to enable publication of The Women are Ready: An Opportunity to Transform Peace in Myanmar (2015).
  • Retainer consultancy to provide on-demand gender inclusion advice and structured learning for Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue staff in Myanmar including coaching, project and activity design to boost gender inclusion and perspectives in their work (2016-2017).
  • Providing strategic advice, contributing to international policy and hands-on support to mediation and dialogue work as Senior Manager for Mediation Support, Gender and Inclusion to the Crisis Management Initiative. This included direct support to the Yemeni Women’s Forum, and design and key technical support to a project contributing to inclusive conflict resolution models through women’s agency in South Sudan as well as work in the South Caucasus, Central African Republic, and Guinea Bissau as well as the UN High Level Seminar on Gender and Mediation for peace envoys in cooperation with PRIO and UN Department for Political Affairs (2013-2016).
  • Developing and designing Myanmar-specific training on gender and inclusion in ceasefires (2014).
  • Member of the Expert Advisory Board for the project Broadening Participation in Track One Negotiations run by the Centre on Conflict, Development and Peacebuilding at the Geneva Institute for International Development Studies, and the University of Bilkent (2013-2014).
  • Facilitator of the ‘Better Peace’, Women and Civil Society at the Peace Table conference which resulted in the Better Peace toolkit, available in multiple languages. Initiative with ICAN, UN Women, Conflict Management Initiative, Cordaid, Conciliation Resources, Swisspeace (2014).
  • Providing expert commentary on and collaborating in the launch of OSCE guidance on gender and mediation (2013).
  • Providing expert input on women and peace building to cross Whitehall Women Peace and Security Training (UK Department of Defence, Department for International Development and Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (November 2013).
  • Designing and delivering training to women from Georgia, South Ossetia and Abkhazia as part of a UN Women and Institute for War and Peace Reporting project to facilitate women’s participation in peacebuilding.
  • Devising a mentoring scheme for the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue Asia office that was low-cost, bespoke and provided ongoing support to staff to develop their skills and confidence on how to include gender in their work (2011-2012).
  • Developing a custom-designed gender audit for the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue Asia programme to assess strengths and weaknesses in understanding and implementing gender-inclusive approaches in operational and policy work (2010).
  • Establishing the Surviving Gun Violence Project including Chief Editor of the 2014 book Gun Violence, Disability and Recovery on thematic issues (e.g. victims’ rights and standards, social protection, rehabilitation and recovery) and country studies (e.g. Guatemala, Somalia, India, South Africa, Canada). Norwegian-Government funded project (2011-2014).
  • Providing technical support to the EU, UN Women, and the Office of the UN Special Representative on the Sahel through Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue for the May 2013 High Level Conference on Women’s Leadership in the Sahel.
  • Providing expert advice, contributing to policy and shaping advocacy to the EU on gender, peace and security to the European Peacebuilding Liaison Office (September 2011-September 2013).
  • Leading a team, for the HD Centre, to develop a ground-breaking study on how to include gender perspectives in peace agreements. Entitled From clause to effect: Including women’s rights and gender in peace agreements, it examines six peace agreements from Asia and the Pacific, identifying how references to women’s rights and gender perspectives could have been better included. It is used as reference material in the UN High Level Seminar on Gender and Mediation for peace envoys convened by UN Department for Political Affairs in cooperation with PRIO and Crisis Management Initiative.