Muslims and Christian women leaders have called for adequate representation of women in decision-making and policy formulation as part of measures to resolve the age-long ethnic conflicts in Benue and Taraba states.
This is contained in the communique of a three-day Women Interstate Peacebuilding Initiative (WIPI) Conference, with the theme: "Women are Key to Peace" organised by the Foundation for Peace, Hope and Conflict Management (FPHCM) in Abuja.
It was jointly signed by Dr. Maryam Yusuf Magaji, Chairperson; Chief (Mrs.) Rhoda N. Tor-Agbidye, Secretary and members comprising Mrs. Doom Bibiana Abakume, Mrs. Juliana D. Angye and Rev. Fr. Prof. Anthony I. Bature.
They noted that women are proportionally affected by violent conflict situations and yet largely excluded from negotiating peace.
According to them, in today's contemporary society, women continue to be excluded from official efforts to bring peace to conflict-affected communities and their contribution to broader peacebuilding often goes unrecognised despite international policy development.
They noted that there was a marked decline in cultural and morals values in the educational, political and social sectors within the communities and that the institutionalised structures that monitor and report suspicious moves and questionable characters in the society are ineffective.
"There are financial constraints resulting from underutilisation of funds meant for security personnel.
"There is a poor presence of local and international Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) working in the area of peacebuilding within Taraba and Benue states.
"Stereotyping and hate speeches by political, religious and community leaders instigate crisis in the society.
"There is a need to emphasise teachings that strengthen and promote the practice of social norms and cultural values among children and youths in our societies.
"Women and youths should be equipped with vocational and entrepreneurship skills in order to promote self-reliance and sustainability," they said.
They also said that the killings of persons and destruction of property has to stop and that all displaced persons should be re-integrated back to their various communities.