From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
West Africa Network for Peace Building (WANEP-Nigeria), a Non Governmental Organization (NGO), has trained 67 young women in conflict and peace processes in Nigeria.
The National Network Coordinator WANEP, Bridget Osakwe, during the three-day seminar that ended on Friday tagged: “Training the Trainers” for young women on leadership, peace building and advocacy, said the young women were being groomed to bridge the intergenerational gap of women in peace building, noted that the resources of young people especially women are underutilized in community engagements, as the nation struggles with insecurity and peacebuilding processes.
According to her, “35 out of 36 states in the country are experiencing violent conflicts and the remaining one is not totally violence free, this means we are in a serious insecurity situation that needs to be addressed.
“If the insecurity situation must be addressed it means we cannot leave this responsibility to the government alone who are obviously using hardcore security response which is the military. We need to ensure the approaches are multi sectoral and multi dimensional.
“We selected young women between ages 15 and 35 and all we wanted is to have young women who are building peace contribute their quota to nation building, and while we the older generation are gradually sitting back there would be a group of young women with skills in peace building that would be able to take up from where we stopped.
“This training will provide the platform for mentoring young women to take the space and effectively involve in civic processes and advocacy to hold political decision-makers accountable to their obligations and participate in peace processes,” she added.
Delivering a paper titled “Importance of Mentorship for Young Women: Role of Mentor and Mentee”, the National Coordinator of Gender Equality, Peace and Development Center (GEPaDC), Prof. Patricia Donli, stated that it was important to have young women in peacebuilding especially in detecting early warning of violence in the community.
“Early warning prevents violence from occurring and this training the trainers workshop is commendable because it will have a multiplier effect on the communities as we would have many young women as early warning monitors who in turn train others and thereby many are involved in peace processes in the community and the country.
“Early warning is critical to the issues of violence so if we can prevent it will go a long way to reducing the issues of violence in the country,” she said.
The Head of Programmes, WANEP-NIGERIA, Patience Obaulo, on her part noted, the training was aimed at raising awareness and consolidate knowledge on the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) and Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) agenda among young women, adding that, the workshop is mainly to groom young women who can lead, build strategy to maintain and sustain peace.
“The workshop is to enhance the leadership and peace building capacities of young women to advocate for the implementation of the WPS and YPS agenda, and to also establish a network of young women and gender equality allies that will meaningfully participate in, influence and lead community-based peace building particularly in implementation of the WPS and YPS resolutions, serve as conflict monitors; advocacy for gender equality, women’s rights , human rights and gender-responsive humanitarian response”.
“To have local action plans at community level looking at ensuring women participation in peace and security. Which is at the national and state level which seeks to build capacity of stakeholders at the community level to see how to develop as being the low percentage of participation is not acceptable.
“Our focus has always been on community women bearing in mind young women. Society classifies youth as just a particular group. The place of the young women in decision and peacebuilding is unknown or most times relegated to the background. It is time young women begin to have a voice and a place in the community,particularly bringing forth peace initiatives that will sustain peace in our communities.
“We thought it is also right for us to have a network of young women that can relate with each other, able to bear their challenges and work together towards ensuring that these challenges are ameliorated especially when it comes to issues that challenge their well being.
Issues like reproductive health rights, security. When we look at the broader picture of women most times we do not consider the young women. Do they have the same fears that older women have about their opinions on peace and security,” she said.
Earlier Kadija Hawaja Gambo, Permanent Commissioner Kaduna state Peace Commission, reiterated that, women are directly involve whether as victims or survivors in conflict situations, as conflict affects men and women differently. Adding,most areas in our society today men dominate and as such when decisions are made it is in tune to what they feel thereby proffering solutions to just about 50 percent of the population.
“They never bring to the table the concerns and fears of women. For it to be comprehensive it must be inclusive and this means we must have them in independent and active participation not to just echo what the men are saying, but to speak for themselves.
“No better person to facilitate conflict resolution than the woman, who by her nature continually resolves conflict from the home front. Conflict begins from the home before extending to the larger society for this,women are capable as they tend to understand the psyche of people more than men. Women are more positioned for this as they understand the temperament and attitude of individuals.
“Women who are involved in peace and security are very few, an endangered minority. Considering the strategic position women contribute to the society we realise that there is need to groom the younger ones to pass the baton to. This is about bringing humanity on course where every human being will be conscious and appreciate the other irrespective of their differences.