27 December 2012

Nigeria: National Action Plan for Women and Peace (I)

Mni — Peace building has become a major area of focus for development workers because no development can take place without peace. Conflicts on the other hand interrupt development, impoverish the population and traumatise them. Given the increasing conflicts in different parts of the world, the United Nations Security Council UNSC has passed various resolutions on managing conflicts and promoting peace. Research has shown that women and children are often the most affected by violent conflicts; most refugee camps and rehabilitation shelter for internally displaced persons are usually filled with women and children.

For several decades, the United Nations Security Council's deliberations and resolutions only dealt with women peripherally, as 'victims' or as a 'vulnerable group' However this changed when on October 31 2000 when it adopted UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. Known as UNSCR1325, it is a landmark resolution because it recognized the role women have been playing at various levels in conflict, peace and security and affirmed their potential to contribute to peace building. It was first time that the Security Council focused its attention exclusively on women and the role they should play as agents in their own right in situations of conflict and transition from conflict

Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security, presents a comprehensive political framework within which women's protection and their role in peace processes can be addressed. "For the first time, the Council called for a comprehensive assessment on the impact of armed conflict on women and girls, the role of women in peace building and the gender dimensions of peace processes and conflict resolution.'

In 2004, the UN Secretary General called on Member States to develop National Action Plans (NAPs) as the most effective way to translate the goals of UNSCR 1325 into reality. It was observed that developing and implementing NAP is a demanding and ambitious task, but one which must be fulfilled if UN Member States are serious about according women equal status with men in all efforts to address peace and security issues.

In response to this, the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development which is the gender mechanism for Nigeria has taken a bold step in developing a NAP for the country...

The development of Nigeria's National Action Plan (NAP) began in 2011.. The process was also supported by development partners. Production of the NAP was assigned to consultants who were selected through a rigorous scientific method. They are Dr Lydia Umar of Kaduna based Gender Action Trust GAT, Grace Awodo of the Abuja based Institute of Peace and Conflict Resolution, Chukwuemeka Eze of the West African Network for Peace WANEP in Accra Ghana and my humble self.

We engaged in a nationwide exercise and collated input from various stakeholders through several planning meetings, zonal consultations, workshops and validation meetings. At the first meeting of stakeholders, the Hon. Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajiya Zainab Maina, underscored the importance of the exercise and urged participants contribute to development of a NAP that would respond to the various issues around women in conflict and peace building and post conflict reconstruction. She was represented at the event by the Director Women Affairs in the Ministry Mrs Esther Adeyemi. The first step to the development of the NAP were series of planning meetings with the consultants from which emerged a work plan (including time lines, roles and responsibilities) for the NAP and a finalized guide for facilitating the zonal and national consultations. Others were a roadmap for addressing policy and programmes gaps identified, National Strategic Framework /Action Plan in Nigeria, six zonal multi-stakeholder consultations zones and one national consultation/adoption.

The expectations of the Ministry and other stakeholders were to develop and implement a NAP that would ensure the following:

-Gender mainstreamed into conflict resolution, security and peace building at all levels;

-Increased women's participation in conflict management processes;

-Increased provision for women needs/concerns during peace negotiations and post-conflict management ;

-Mainstream at least 35% Affirmative Action in peace building and conflict management in the security sector;

Reduced prevalence of violence against women in and post conflict situations.

-Bridge the gaps in knowledge, policies, institutional capacity and deficits in the security and the development architecture in Nigeria.

The methodology for the development of the NAP was participatory and involved various activities. The project phases comprised the following; a desk review, needs assessment in the form of the six zonal consultative fora for six geo-political zones, development of structured tools, pre-test and validation of the tools before use, development of strategic framework and action plan. Others are a steering committee meeting, national consultative forum/ stakeholders' validation meetings, finalization and adoption of the document, publication, sensitisation and dissemination activities. It started with a situation analysis (through the consultations) of the women, peace and security issues in Nigeria. The research identified existing knowledge and gaps on women peace and security issues as well as progress made by the government and its agencies on the subject matter in order to articulate a national response. This process also included a stakeholder's consultation to validate the zonal findings on issues of peace and security in Nigeria.

An action plan was derived from the consultations. Participants were drawn from all the states in the country including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja.

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