Officials in Plateau State have started a process that might permanently solve violent conflicts, returning the Central Nigerian State to its previous lead business and tourism status.
The Plateau State Peace Building Agency (PPBA) on Tuesday began training its staff and volunteers to be gender and conflict sensitive in their operations.
“We are living in very dangerous times in this country,” said the Director General of PPBA, Mr. Joseph Lengmang at the training in Jos.
“We don’t have to sugar coat it. We are tittering on the brink because of the growing security challenges that we face,” he added.
Conventional approaches to peace building according to Mr. Lengmang no longer work. “We need to begin to rethink our strategies and this is what this workshop is all about. We need to shift from the conventional ways and begin to explore new ideas on how to solve these problems. And that means talking to people, educating people – working closely with people to deliver on the promise of peace and security,” said the official.
There is no better time to mainstream gender and conflict sensitivity in conflict prevention and resolution as now that Nigeria seems to be “submerged in vicious circles of conflict and insecurity,” said Mrs. Nenpo Sarah Adelabu, a Doctorate Scholar in the University of Jos.
“Conflict management initiatives have largely been male dominated and confrontational,” said Sarah in a paper at the workshop. But as caregivers, Sarah said women are “first educators” in family and society. “They are Central in transmitting values of peace and love to their children and community,” she said.
Women’s knowledge, experiences and skills are therefore valuable in promoting peace, Sarah added. “As victims and actors in peace building and conflict resolution, the exclusion of women in both informal and formal processes undermines the peace building process,” she said.
Involving women in peace processes is beyond just gender inclusivity, said a German partner of the Plateau Peace Building Agency, Anikka Malinowsky. Conflict she said affects different groups differently, hence the need to incorporate all knowledge and experiences in solving it.
A national action plan on resolution 1325, domesticated and translated into local languages in Plateau State provides a useful guide to mainstreaming gender in peace building, said another scholar, Angela Olofo.
Gender mainstreaming according to her is not about promoting female dominance, but equal opportunities for all.
“Anytime we talk about gender equality, people think we are only talking about women but it’s about equal representation for all to guarantee comprehensive results” added an official of the Plateau State Ministry of Women Affairs, Mrs. Juliana Fwanter.
A former Official of PPBA, Mrs. Lantana Abdullahi lauded the move by the agency to solve insecurity by involving all relevant stakeholders.