opinionBy Hajiya Bilkisu
There were more than thirty participants representing various ministries, departments, agencies and civil society organisations. As they converged on the conference room of Ajuji Hotel in Apo District of Abuja, they exchanged pleasantries and sat chatting before the event started.
Among them were representatives of the National Assembly, security agencies, Ministries of Defence, Foreign Affairs, Justice and other relevant agencies. For several months, the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development had been working with consultants and all stakeholders to develop a the draft National Action Plan (NAP) for the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution UNSCR 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. On November 20 2012 it convened a validation meeting where the draft of the National Action Plan NAP was presented to the stakeholders for their input.
The meeting began with opening prayers, welcome remarks and introduction of participants facilitated by Nkechi Onwuike, the Ministry's contact person for the NAP meeting. The consultants then presented the various chapters of the NAP. The main body of the draft NAP was developed from the five pillars 5Ps as adopted by stakeholders at one of the planning meetings. They include: prevention, participation, protection, promotion and prosecution. The draft NAP developed activities for each of the five pillars and identified templates as the body of the framework for the adoption of a National Action Plan (NAP) for Nigeria. The consultants, Grace Awodo and my humble self represented our two colleagues Dr Lydia Umar and Chukwuemeka Eze presented the various activities to be organised under the five Pillars-5Ps
On the first pillar, which is prevention, the following were identified: reinforce preventive performance, i.e. strengthen women's roles/contribution in conflict resolution; promote the culture of peace and strengthening early warning and early response mechanisms. Others are conducting research and documentation of lessons learnt and best practices. An aspect that civil society organisations had been engaged in also received attention which was to identify and support the reforms and enactment of gender responsive laws and policies. The matrix of activities include advocacy to National Assembly for passage of Violence Against Persons (VAP) Bill and revision of discriminatory laws against women related to sexual offences, support Legislative Advocacy Coalition on Violence Against Women's LACVAW advocacy activities for passage of Bill on Violence Against Persons, publicise the law against trafficking in persons, advocacy for the development of a policy on Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and revise National Peace Policy (NPP) to incorporate provisions of NAP, UNSCR 1325 and 182
For the second P which is participation the following activities were listed; training women and girls as mediators, negotiators and conciliators in conflicts and post conflict situations, taking special measures to ensure the participation of women at all levels of peace process and involvement of men and youths in the dissemination and enlightenment of the NAP. Provide capacity building for women in the negotiation and reconciliation skills provide support for those trained to replicate training, monitoring and evaluation of trained women and girls and local government's support women's participation in post-conflict meetings in area councils. Others are provision of adequate and accessible humanitarian services and relief materials to women and girls affected by all types of violence particularly in disaster and conflict zones. Additional activities are improve management of functional rehabilitation and recovery centres and train counselling officers to handle survivors of gender based violence GBV and offer counselling services .
Under the third Pillar which is Protection, the draft NAP recommends that political security measures should strengthen women and girls against sexual and gender based violence during and after conflicts. It also underscored the need to develop and implement advocacy activities directed at policy makers and security agencies on policies and laws addressing issues related to GBV against girls and women in conflict zones and in their public and private lives. The following recommendations were made: strengthen women and girls capacity to resist sexual and gender based violence during and after conflicts, ensure socio-economic empowerment of women and girls in post conflict reconstruction and integration and provision of adequate and accessible humanitarian services.
For the fourth P which is promotion of the draft NAP designed the strategic objective to focus on developing strategies for awareness of the provisions of UNSCR 1325 and NAP. The activities are; to promote advocacy for its ownership and adequate funding to implement and sustain it, mass enlightenment programs to increase awareness on the provisions of NAP for community based and state institutions to undertake publicity on NAP. Others are using effective and culturally sensitive messages to promote the provisions of the resolutions, and producing Information Education and Communication (IEC) materials to promote the resolutions ,initiate community dialogues and debates in local languages and use electronic media to amplify the message, ensuring that adequate funds are allocated by government and development partners to support local and other peace building initiatives.
For community level promotion, the draft NAP outlined the following: undertake massive enlightenment programs to increase awareness creation on the provision of UN security Council resolutions 1325, 1889 and 1820, intensify advocacy against traditional and cultural practices that inhibit or obstruct the effective implementation of 1325, facilitate engagement among government, civil society organizations and the media in the promotion of international, regional and national instruments on women, peace and security .
Under the fifth Pillar which is prosecution, the NAP designed the strategic objective to strengthen prosecution and ensure quick trial of perpetrators of GBV and end impunity. Some of the activities outlined are; establishment of special courts to try violators of women and girls during and after conflicts, professional training and skills development programmes on gender justice with particular focus on GBV issues for judges, lawyers, the police and prosecutors, focal Points or Gender Desks at all police stations and initiating a process of collaboration between the police and social workers in the prosecution of perpetrators of gender based violence. Equally important is to develop a robust transitional justice program in Nigeria.