The Nigerian Coordinators of a research project on The Gender Dimensions of Social Conflict, Armed Violence and Peacebuilding, Joy Onyesoh (WILPF-Nigeria) and Mimidoo Achakpa (WREP), convened a National Roundtable to advance evidence-based debate on women, peace and security on 12-14 July 2017. The workshop was attended by 53 persons from civil society, academia, the federal government of Nigeria and the media, in addition to representatives of the research team from Indonesia and Switzerland. It aimed at communicating research findings on the gender and conflict project, and at fostering discussions among stakeholders on local but less visible resources for peace in Nigeria to trigger policy debates on the promises of including gender considerations into peacebuilding.
After two days of presentations and active participatory debates, the participants identified key outcomes pertaining to gender, sustainable peace and development in Nigeria. They suggested defining peacebuilding as the processes of establishment of sustainable peace aimed at preventing recurrence of conflict and escalation leading to violence. Building upon in-depth knowledge from the participants and insights from the Gender and Conflict project’s preliminary results, the participants illustrated this definition with examples of peacebuilding initiatives undertaken in Delta, Enugu, and Jos. In Jos, the Youth exchange initiative was highlighted as particularly relevant: in Dadinkowa, Youths collaborate to build peace and dispel rumours across ethnicities and religions. In Enugu the Umuadas or first daughters act as enforcers of law and social order. They put levies or fines, can banish or ostracise offenders and hence act as key but overlooked peacebuilders in the region. In Delta the Nweya, whose roles are similar to Umuadas, are groups of married women functioning in the Urhobo communities.
As a close up, participants identified some concrete examples of actions that can be taken to encourage gender-sensitive peacebuilding in Nigeria. They identified several initiatives supporting conflict de-escalations such as listening inclusively to affected parties; acknowledging and managing emotions/feelings of parties, and implementing gender-sensitive consultative processes for sustainable peace in conflict-affected communities. The participants further identified ways in which corporate social responsibility can de-escalate conflicts. In particular, they suggested that companies should conduct in-depth gender analysis with the communities in which they implement CSR programmes so that they can be tailored to the needs of the populations. They could then support programmes according to the needs expressed by the women, men, girls and boys living in the communities rather than imposing ready-made development initiatives that might not resonate with the communities and in some case further foster conflicts. The groups finally discussed different possible ways of strengthening traditional bodies such as the Umuadas in Enugu or Nweya in Delta. Supporting actions could include: identifying and recognizing traditional bodies; encouraging them to register with appropriate authorities; supporting their empowerment (capacity building on proper record keeping); and encouraging youth groups to include young women.
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