A lasting solution to armed conflict in Nigeria must involve the meaningful participation of women in conflict resolution and peace building efforts says Ms. Bridget Osakwe, the National Coordinator, West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP).
She stressed that women are critical members of the population and should be given equal opportunity to contribute to Peacebuilding and development in the society.
Osakwe spoke at a media workshop on amplifying women’s voices for peace and implementing the UNSCR 1325 organized by WANEP and the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP) in Abuja.
She said: “Without meaningful inclusion of women, there can never be a lasting solution to armed conflicts, and as a result, no sustainable development, because without peace, there can’t be meaningful development.
“That is why the millennium development goals is adjudged to have failed.”
She added: “When women are absent from contributing to national development, its as if you are working with one hand, the time you bring the second hand, which is women, the development is better, higher and more sustainable”
Osakwe regrets that barriers of cultural inhibitions, traditional stereotyping in addition to the negative portrayal of women as mere victims in the media have been factors inhibiting women from achieving their potentials.
She noted that the United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 recognized this fact, and shifted the perception of women as victims to that of change-makers and agents of peace. “Yet, in practice women are still often perceived as passive victims or by-standers, and the images of women as peacebuilders are largely absent from Nigerian media.”
She however expressed hope that the workshop will correct the negative perception. She said the workshop seeks to discuss how media can highlight women’s roles as leaders, peacebuilders and decision-makers; and to draft a comprehensive media and communications strategy for the implementation of UNSCR 1325 and other Women, Peace and Security (WPS) resolutions in Nigeria.
“Media is a key partner in promoting broad public awareness and therefore effectively implementing UNSCR 1325.” She said.
Also speaking, Ms. Agnieszka Fal-Dutra Santos, Program Coordinator at GNWP, added role of the media is huge because media can not only change the perception but can influence decision makers to give women the support they need.
“The media can highlight what the women can do to end conflict to prevent conflict and how. We do not want the media to be an afterthought, we want it to be at the front and center of implementation of these important international laws,”she said.