The West Africa Network for Peace building (WANEP), in its mission to ensure lasting peace within the precinct of Adamawa, Gombe and Plateau and other adjourning states, on Tuesday hosted representatives from the states and other relevant stakeholders in a workshop in Abuja with theme: “promoting women’s engagement in peace and security in Northern Nigeria”.
WANEP in partnership with the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR), and supported by the United Nations Women, engaged the states representatives on the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the operationalization of gender-sensitive peace architecture.
In his remark, Dr Chukwuemeka Eze, the Executive Director, WANEP said: “this meeting is designed to strengthen our networking and collaborative efforts in addressing the peace and security challenges in our states and region and the structural dysfunctional mechanisms that hinders inclusivity and gender sensitivity in peace processes.
“We aim to synthesize lessons learned from the range of resources and to capture different stakeholder’s perspectives, from both within and outside the state, on key policies and programmes that made a difference for the WP5 program in the three states and how we can all leverage the strength of one another through networking and synergy building.”
He further added that: “While women are often at the forefront of informal, behind-the-scenes peace initiatives, ‘peace agreements are usually negotiated predominately, if not exclusively, by men’ and women tend to be consistently excluded in decision making.
“Gender consideration in peace processes is a question of equality and equity: it matters because peace negotiations and agreements generate and set the structure and direction for post conflict reconstruction and agendas which affect the lives of all men and women and the society as a whole.”
“Formal and informal peace processes have not been able to effectively engage and significantly include women, whether as representative negotiators of parties to a conflict or as members of the teams facilitating peace processes.
“In an attempt to address these gaps, we have in the last six months implemented key activities including Vulnerability Risk, Capacity Assessment and Gap Analysis with 133 (68 women and 65 men) participants drawn from the three states.
“Capacity building for Conflict Monitors, Analyst, and Responders, development and validation of early warning indicators, development of gender sensitive early warning manual and SOP for peace architectures among others,” he said.
Dr. Louis Brown Ogbeifun, in his keynote address said that: “In 2017, Peace Direct observed that most of the post-conflict plans for the North East largely excluded women from the peace process rebuilding plans. Similarly, the 714 pages Buhari Plan – the working document of the Presidential Committee on the North East (PCNI) – only emphasizes gender based violence with palliatives such as economic empowerment and psychological support.
“The lack of substantial gender inclusion similarly applies to the National Counter Terrorism Strategy (NACTEST).
“None of these blueprints have put women at the negotiation table nor do they work effectively at redressing the alarming gap in women’s participation in the governance processes that predates the insurgency. They have also not adequately explored the intersectionality between gender, peace, and security, and the centrality of gender in CVE and preventing violent extremism (PVE)”.
Ogbeifun recommended that we need to find a way of dealing with a bureaucracy that sees peace building as another money minting machine – a means to an end for themselves and their cronies; Emplace integrated and fully funded peace platforms that are able to bring closer the professionals on the field, peace researchers and the beneficiaries of the peace outcomes; Use peace architects in training of children from a very early age and reduce the incidence of radicalization from extraneous sources; Improvement in the training of the girl child education at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels; Include more women in peace and security forum instead of the majorly male dominated conferences and workshops, among others.
The National Coordination for WANEP, Mrs Bridget Osakwe, explained that
er consultation with relevant stakeholders, training of women in the three states, and developing indicators that will monitor conflict, the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for operationalizing gender-sensitive peace architecture was developed.
According to her: “Today we have come bringing in representatives from the three states together for lessons learnt and best practices.
“We have also brought somebody from Ghana that has a peace architecture which they call Peace Council, so that they can share their experience. We also have someone from Uganda.
“The aim is to see how strategically, we can implement those peace architecture in the three states.
“Plateau state for instance has a peace building agency. We hope that the other two states can strategize in having peacebuilding institutions in their states.”
Prof. Oshita Oshita, Director General, IPCR said that: “There is no conflict without early warning signs. The important thing for us is to recognize the early warning signs and trap it and respond the way we ought to in order to prevent the worst from happening.”
While commending the efforts of WANEP and IPCR in their peacebuilding quest, the Country Representative of the United Nations Women, Comfort Lamptey, said: “there is however commitment required by state and non-state actors, as well as the target beneficiaries to be actively engaged in conflict prevention and peacebuilding processes.
“The existence of a gender sensitive early warning and early response system will not only avert the resurgence of violent conflicts but also prevent the loss of lives and valuable properties.”