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Women For Peace And Unity In Diversity

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Monday, March 21st, 2016
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A woman’s   world is promising, yet gloomy, hopeful, yet in despair but above all she is always a winner. She is the mother of tomorrow. She shapes the destiny of civilizations.

The strength and uniqueness of a woman can be compared to no other. She has to constantly deal  with a lot of issues emotionally, physically spiritually and politically, yet she handles them with ease. By her socialisation, she has learnt to be very diplomatic. She understands that she is a woman and she takes advantage of it to better her family and society in general. A woman strives to have answers and solutions to every question and problem.  At every given time she can reason and negotiate . With all these qualities, she is a tool of change, of peace and of unity.

Before 1914 the country called Nigeria did not exist, in its place was a hugely diverse scattering of tribes and communities. These with their different languages, culture, religion and political practices were brought together to form an entirely artificial nation called Nigeria . it however,  still maintains its diversity.

Ever since Independence in 1960, Nigeria has been torn apart by war, violence and ethnic conflict. Nigeria has also undergone several periods of military rule causing a lot of political instability. We are now in a democracy , yet Nigeria is still characterized as a deeply divided state. The people consider themselves primarily members of the tribe from which they originated from before thinking of Nigeria.

Nigeria’s diversity could be seen in its language and culture. All the languages and cultures are intertwined. Nigeria is a multi-cultural nation. It’s multiculturalism being the existence, acceptance and promotion of multiple cultural traditions within a single jurisdiction. The question is, can the multi- ethnic and multi cultural groups in Nigeria co- exist as a federal state? What should be the role of women in bridging the gap that we have now and fostering a united Nigeria?

The present scenario in Nigeria portends danger. We have intra and inter religious conflict, we have inter tribal and intra tribal conflict. Ethnicity is obviously becoming more and more pronounced and stronger than before.  There is the  Boko Haram crisis in the North East, there is  the Mlilitants  unrest in the South- South ,there is the quest  for a Biafra nation in the South- East ,and there is general political violence in the whole Nation resulting in loss  of lives.

All these  portend danger for the country and in particular for women who suffer most in crisis situations.  The world in particular is waiting to hear the voice  of   women to nip this crisis in the bud. Women should not whisper as things are getting worse by day they should shout for  obvious reasons .

They suffer abuse in various forms. They lose their husbands, their  children, and they are often used as sex objects. They suffer degrading and untold hardships. In some cases they are enlisted into the militia and made to carry guns, some are sadly used as suicide bombers. It is obvious that women suffer disproportionately in every crisis situation. Apart from the pains as mothers and wives, these women and girls suffer from unwanted pregnancies, and even death and all forms of abuse that dehumanize women. In crisis situations women are left to search for food, water and feed the family. All these point to the fact that women must play a role in peace making, peace keeping and in the country’s   decision making process, be it economic, political or social. Their voices must be heard loud and clear.

The advantage of women in forging unity in diversity and maintenance of peace in Nigeria should be recognized. Such advantages include:

  • Strong capacity for networking and voluntary mobilization –hence ability to exert decisive pressure on crucial issues such as peace. The more the people that can be mobilized for peace the easier it is to prevent and resolve conflict.
  • Emerging success in lobbying and advocacy even among parties in conflict demonstrates women’s ability to build alliances between conflicting groups. Dialogue is essential for conflict resolution, peace and conflict management.
  • Strong advocacy skills hence strength in building a constituency for peace with impressive outreach capacity. Advocacy is crucial at all levels of society from grassroots to national leadership.
  • Neutrality in peace broking .You cannot be trusted unless you are neutral. This is an important factor in conflict resolution.
  • Influence at family and community level for the development of positive attitudes. A culture of peace cannot be built overnight. It is a long-term process and women are crucial teachers and socializers.
  • Proven strength in the provision of humanitarian aid/relief assistance to women even by those in difficult situations.
  • Ability to work across the political divide once they identify an issue of common concern. Political differences do not mean that people cannot agree on a common agenda. Women’s organizations have demonstrated the need for all parties to rally around peace.
  • Women’s emphasis on non-violent conflict resolution. This is the essence of all conflict resolution. Women’s voices often succeed where arms and ammunition

Women are in the best position to negotiate for peace and a united country. We have witnessed several efforts and approaches in the past that have failed, Women will not fail if given the chance.  The skills, strength capacities, and motherly experience of women can be brought to negotiate for the unity of the diverse people of Nigeria. Not only can a woman think, she can reason and negotiate.

Professor Modupe Adelabu is a lecturer, administrator and education specialist. She served as Deputy Governor of Ekiti State from May 2013-October 2014. She also served as Chair of the Ekiti State Universal  Education Board (SUBEB) from 2010-2014.

 

 

 

 

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