Charting Roles For Women In Peace Processes


Nigeria recently
adopted the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on “Women, Peace and Security’’ and went further to inaugurate a National Action Plan for its domestication.
The resolution seeks to involve women in all efforts at promoting peace and security in any nation.
As signatory to the resolution, the inauguration of the action plan was to ensure that Nigerian women are meaningfully sensitised and encouraged to participate in all peace-building processes.
Inaugurating the plan, the immediate past Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajiya Zainab Maina, reiterated that the resolution called for increased participation of women in peacemaking and peace-building processes.
She said that the contributions of women were vital to building a peaceful world, and must be supported by everyone.
She cited the recent UN Secretary-General’s Annual Report on Women, Peace and Security, saying it highlighted a growing number of inspiring examples of women in action.
Maina noted that the resolution was adopted on October 31, 2000 to highlight the significant roles women should play in conflict management, resolution and sustainable peace.
She, therefore, urged the government, civil society organisations and individuals in relevant sectors of the economy to ensure successful implementation of the resolution.
“When you train a woman, you are building a great and viable nation.
“Therefore, I charge all stakeholders to collaborate as the security of the country is a collective responsibility.’’
Reviewing women’s roles in peace-making, Dr Grace Ongile, Country Representative of UN Women in Nigeria, said limited progress was made in the past to involve women in informal peace processes since 2000.
“It cannot be disputed that national growth and development is based on minimum level of peace and security as both are closely related concepts.
“This means that whatever is happening in the peace and security sector will impact on national development agenda of which women are the overwhelming majority,’’ she said.
Ongile called on decision makers to ensure that the provisions of the plan were respected and implemented to include women in peace-building and conflict management.
A consultant, Mrs Lydia Umar, said that Nigeria’s security challenges had made Resolution 1325 very significant, adding that the country needed to be proactive at preventing conflicts.
She said that Resolution 1325 would ensure that Nigerian women are protected during conflicts at all levels of the society.
She said that the recent bombing of commercial and public places in Nigeria showed that conflicts must be managed, while there must be concrete efforts for peace-building.
Calling for proactive approach to peace-making, President of the National Council of Catholic Women Organisations, Mrs Felicia Onyeabo, said women should brainstorm on ways to be peace builders.
“The issue of peace and security is our collective responsibility; it is not a one man’s business.
“You have to keep your eyes and ears open to take note and report suspicious things to the police as peace-makers.’’
Onyeabo said that through inter-personal interactions, information about potential danger could filter into people’s ears and cause such to be reported to law enforcement agents.
“It is in the nature of women to talk to one another, and so when you hear or notice anything that is out of place in your community, please report it,’’ she advised.
Also contributing,  National President, Federation of Muslim Women Associations, Hajiya Maryam Othman, observed that Nigeria had experienced increased levels of insecurity and violence since the past two decades.
She noted that insecurity had affected virtually every aspect of social and economic development of Nigeria, arguing that women had been the worst hit in the circumstance.
“An appraisal of Nigeria’s political history validates the persistence of conflict, revealing that women and children make up close to 80 per cent of the victims of these conflicts.
“Although women have played traditional roles in resolving conflict within their families, social groups, and immediate environments, they are rarely consulted or included in formal peace- building processes,’’ she complained.
Canvassing recently for women’s involvement in peace processes, the First Lady, Mrs Patience Jonathan, called on African women in leadership positions to be bold in contributing ideas towards promoting peace in their communities.
Jonathan said that as bearers of the next generation, the future of the African continent rested with women.
“I urge Nigerian and African women to always take the bull by the horn and take their destiny in their hands; we must not be afraid to make contributions on national issues, especially on issues that promote peace.
“Women are the peace-makers and bridge builders, we must therefore continue to utilise our endowments and God-given talents to promote peace and progress in Africa.
“We are all aware that without peace, meaningful development will continue to elude our continent,’’ she noted.
Experts believe that without women’s involvement in the design and implementation of policies and programmes on conflict resolution and peace-building, such policies may not achieve their purpose.
Kolade writes for News Agenct of Nigeria (NAN).


Tosin Kolade