The wife of the Nigerian Vice President, Hajiya Amina Namadi Sambo, told an overflow audience in Abuja on November 8, 2013 that “poverty has the face of a woman” because women are more negatively impacted by conflict. Speaking at the Nigeria launch of Global Peace Women, a project of the Global Peace Foundation, Mrs. Sambo expressed delight in current efforts by women to impact the peace process. She challenged women to be collectively involved in intervening in conflict and reminded listeners that where there is no peace, there is no sustainable development.
Noting that the theme of the conference, “Moral and Innovative Leadership: Building Sustainable Peace for a Prosperous Future,” implies a responsibility expected of women, she emphasized that women must build their capacity to be peace vanguards to prevent conflict from exploding.
Hajiya Sambo said that a five-year review of conflict in Nigeria found that the role of women in peace building was essential and that women could be catalysts of cohesion. She said this is as a result of biological and sociological qualities acquired through relationships across cultures by marriage.
Hajia Bilkisu Yusuf, former President of the Federation of Muslim Women Association of Nigeria, said it was the obligation and responsibility of government and the people of Nigeria to ensure the rights and security of women. She announced that Nigeria has launched a National Action Plan in August 2013 to address specific Nigerian gender-related challenges.
Hajiya Sambo added that the Nigerian First Lady, Mrs. Patience Jonathan, who serves as president of the African Ladies Peace Keeping Mission, has been playing a vital role to build peace in Nigeria and across the continent through the initiation of several programs on peace.
Dr. Junsook Moon, wife of Global Peace Foundation Chairman Dr. Hyun Jin Moon, enjoined women to take up roles in conflict resolution and peace-building. She said women, who constitute half of the world’s population, are the natural agents of peace and must extend their nurturing role in the family to the larger society. Dr. Moon called on government and civil society leaders to guarantee education of women, and urged women to participate in diverse ways to advance peace.
Hajia Bilkisu Yusuf, former President of the Federation of Muslim Women Association of Nigeria, said it was the obligation and responsibility of government and the people of Nigeria to ensure the rights and security of women. She announced that Nigeria has launched a National Action Plan in August 2013 to address specific Nigerian gender-related challenges. The plan adopted five pillars of involvement, Protection, Participation, Promotion, Prevention and Prosecution.
Copies of the document published by the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development were distributed to session participants to ensure that its provisions were communicated across society, particularly to youth.
Hajia Aisha Babangida, of the Better Life for African Rural Women, described projects empowering women through the distribution of gas stoves and by encouraging women’s involvement in the security sector. She stressed the need to support women as groups, not just as individuals, in order to bring change. She also spoke about challenging stereotypes that tend to deny women opportunities to be empowered.
Mrs. Comfort Fearon of the Women Inter-Faith Council of Nigeria stated that religious practices have tended to relegate women to a “back seat,” but that women are overcoming this challenge through building women fellowships in churches and Islamic groups.
She commended the role the police has played in their work, especially in the area of violence against women, and enjoined women and women groups to engage with the police to achieve their goals.
Hajia Salamatu Hussaini Sulaiman, Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security in the ECOWAS Commission, recounted the role played by women in Senegal who prevented an escalation of tensions to violence by creating a “situation room” during one of the general elections in their nation.
Concluding the launch, grandmothers, mothers, daughters, political leaders, organizational leaders, and faith leaders committing themselves in solidarity to advance GPF’s vision of “One Family under God.”
–Reported by Grace Awodu and Hajiya Kadala, GPF Nigeria