SAFEGUARDING A NATION AND ENHANCING ECONOMIC PROSPERITY
Women are real change agents and promoters of sustainable development. They are a major component of a happy and habitable world, and the planet is full of them doing great exploits; daily contributing to social improvements and providing the needed inspirations to many including the Girl-Child and young women alike. Women are strong, loving and caring, and are peace advocates and conflicts solvers. They are lion guides created and positioned for the strength, success and sustenance of a family, community, nation and the globe at large when given the opportunities. If they are fragile as many as posited, how then are they able to handle the process of pregnancy, childbirth and the home front, and at the same time inspite of the diverse confrontations they are sometimes faced with are still key contributors to successful outcomes in the market place, corporate organizations, faith-based institutions and other decision making bodies platforms. They are indeed a special gender with unique endowments that should be accorded the deserved respect and space for an improved world. Unfortunately, many women are denigrated and undermined, and are prevented from fully expressing their God-given potentials. Many more are not occupying the desired space Providence has placed them in as co-partners and help-meet. Millions of women worldwide (and their children too) have become preys of dangerous power-play and politics-of-the powerful: and countless are sufferers of evil practices, extremism, violence and wars; rape and sexual abuse, oppressions and repressions, famines, hunger, and poor governance. Often times they bear the negative brunt of actions and inactions of people they know little or nothing about. These trends must be STOP and the unpleasant narratives concerning women must be reverse to ensure they begin to participate and sustainable too in matters that mattered to their lives and growth, and become part of the decision process that will removing pains and distresses from them and their offspring. In order words their voices must be heard as one voice and their acts should productively counts. The world should know that putting women in the driver’s seat counts a lot in the investment of national peace and safety, economic prosperity, and enduring progress in any nation. Nigeria, known and respected in the comity of nations, and a signatory of several agreements, charters, enactments and legislations on women, youths and Girl-Child’s well-being and promotions, also has its challenges affecting women’s full involvement and integration in all-round development. Several areas across Nigeria, from the oil rich Niger-Delta in the South to the Boko Haram in the North, are marked by violent conflicts. Women in these conflicts and in prevention and resolution of the conflicts take different forms. Conflicts weaken the social cohesion of communities and women often play crucial roles in sustaining the social cohesion. However, the hardships women experience during and after conflicts negatively affects their functions in society. Limited economic opportunities reduced their resilience. Women‘s barriers to leadership and decision making positions also affects their ability to leadership roles in peace-building. Nonetheless, the nation is steadfastly working towards women’s relevance and reverence in international affairs. Nigeria launched its second generation National Action Plan (NAP) on UN Security Council Resolution 1325 in 2017, and State Action Plans (SAPs) are finalized or underway in 11 of the 36 states. These are important tools advancing women’s agenda in national peace, safety and growth realizations. THE WOMAN ANTHEN ALL ACROSS THE NATION, ALL AROUND THE WORLD WOMEN ARE LONGING TO BE FREE NO LONGER IN THE SHADOW, FORCED TO STAY BEHIND, BUT SIDE BY SIDE IN TRUE EQUALITY. Refrain: So sing a song for women everywhere. Let it ring around the world and never, never cease, So sing a song for women everywhere equality, development and peace WOMEN CAN’T BE SILENT, WHEN ALL AROUND THE WORLD, PEOPLE HURT AND HUNGRY, AND CHILDREN CRY. WE WILL SING FOR JUSTICE AND DEVELOPMENT. AND HOLD THE RIGHTS OF ALL THE PEOPLE HIGH. Refrain: WOMEN ARE NOW WORKING TO BUILD A BETTER WORLD. WHERE THE LOVE OF PEACE CAN REST ON EVERY SHORE, WHERE MEN LAY DOWN THEIR WEAPONS AND LEARN TO LOVE AND SHARE, AND PEOPLE WORK TO BRING AN END TO WAR Refrain: To ensure women’s efforts continue to safeguard and sustain national prosperity, stakeholders gathered in Abuja, Nigeria, to brainstorm on women inclusion in peace promotions, conflict resolution, political participation and socio-economic enhancement. The Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR), Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, Norwegian Embassy, Abuja and UN Women in collaborative efforts organized Stakeholders Dialogue on Women, Peace and Security centered on: The well-attended and qualitative meeting held at the IPCR Conference Hall in Abuja, on the 8th October, 2019, had arrays of distinguished women (and men also) who have made their marks in various fields of careers and achievements across the world. The Director General of the Institute, Dr. Bakut T. Bakut, while declaring the event open said that the forum is focused on how women can meaningfully enhance their roles in conflict prevention and resolution in Nigeria with a reference to North East, the Middle Belt and the Delta region. Dr. Bakut said that though conflict affects everybody negatively, but has a disproportionate impact on women in particular due to their peculiar vulnerability status and the general dis-respect by combatants to uphold extant convention. He lamented that women are often victims of violations and discrimination in conflict situations. Speaking further, the DG said: “The quest for peace in both conflict and post-conflict situations have also recorded a huge gender gap as women are often excluded from decision-making processes due to age-long socio-cultural discriminative norms.”; explaining that to reverse the limitation in women’s inclusion in peace processes Nigeria and other member countries of the United Nations accented to the United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 which call for the inclusion of women in peace building. It was adopted in the year 2000 and also consolidated with the development ofNational Action Plan to domesticate the document.He added that the IPCR has played critical roles in the development of the National Action Plans and is still contributing to the implementation of the framework to strengthen gender role in peace processes. Also speaking during the event, the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Dame Pauline Tallen, represented by the Acting Director, Women and Gender Affairs, Ms. Oladipo Funke, noted in her keynote address that conflict brings with it terrible human rights consequences for all involved, children, women and men. She noted that the impact of conflict on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of women, in particular is often devastating.”As we are all aware, women, girls and children are usually the most affected by violence conflicts but yet are largely excluded from peace building and Conflict processes due to factors like patriarchy, ignorance and other socio-cultural impediments. Women’s interest has been neglected by the peace process, which has resulted in male-centered approaches to peace and security,” she said.
In her remarks, the Deputy Head of Mission Norwegian Embassy, H.E Ms. Ingrid Skjolaas, who represented the Ambassador, H.E (Mr.) Jens-Pette Kjemprud further said that without women in peace process there would be no lasting peace. She appreciated the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, Federal Ministry for Women Affairs and Social Development, UN Women and civil society organizations for their various support in promoting gender equality. The qualitative assemblage also included a panelist session comprising peace promoters, security experts, national safety advocators, developmentalists and other stakeholders who were invited to share experiences and lessons from different parts of Nigeria on “How can women meaningfully enhance their roles in conflict prevention and resolution in Nigeria? Lesson from the North East, Middle Belt and the Delta Region” AAnd, the following questions formed their basis of discussions, these include: What are the roles of that women play in the three conflicts?What are the barriers women faces in playing meaningful roles in peace and reconciliation efforts in these conflicts?What would need to change in the short/long run for women to play more meaningful roles?How can National and State Action Plans serve as tools to enhance women’s engagement? Ms. Comfort Lamptey, UN Women Representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS moderated the exciting, enlightening and applauded session comprising respected personages such as: Mrs. Hamsatu Allamin, Executive Director, Allamin Foundation for Peace and Development. Ms. Hajiya Khadija Gambo: Permanent Commissioner, Kaduna Peace Commission. Ms. Fatima Askira, Executive Director, Borno Women Development Initiative (BOWDI). Ms. Deborah Effiong, Executive Director, Arise for Gender and Livelihoods Initiative (ALIVE). Ms. Marita Sorheim-Rensvik, Special Envoy for Women, Peace and Security, Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The programme closing remark was made by Ms. Pernille Ironside, Deputy Representative, UNICEF. Who charge to arise as occasion demands and make a positive mark in their varied corner of progress.
Special Thanks to Musa Mato, Head of Media, IP CR for his assistance in this feature. Acclaim Nigeria magazine was there!