Purpose – This paper aims to locate, describe and analyze the mechanism and impact of women's informal role within the formally male‐only Sulha – a prevalent, inter/intra‐communal dispute resolution process practiced by Muslim, Christian and Druze Arabs in Israel and in many other regions of the Middle East and the Muslim world. Furthermore, this paper seeks to explore the way men's formal roles and women's informal roles interact within the Sulha 's strict patriarchal settings. Design/methodology/approach – The first section of this paper uses interviews, participant observation and existing literature to locate, describe and analyze the specific ways in which women informally participate in and impact on the Sulha process. The second section uses a questionnaire, interviews, existing literature and analysis to examine the attitudes of men and women regarding women's current and future roles in Sulha . Findings – The paper demonstrates that the formal (male‐only) visible part of the Sulha process coexists alongside a significant, yet mostly invisible, informal contribution of women – at each stage of the process. Furthermore, the paper shows that both men and women are cognizant of the informal role women play in Sulha , and that both men and women are open to a possible future expansion of the role of women in Sulha , including into formal roles. Originality/value – The paper highlights the need to seek and evaluate informal, sometimes invisible, yet significant contributions of women to traditional dispute resolution processes in strict patriarchal cultures.
International Journal of Conflict Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Feb 15, 2011
Keywords: Women; Social roles; Dispute resolutions; Israel
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