When I wrote my post on Women Arise and Become Peace Builders little did I know that the action I was calling for has already begun as I mentioned in my follow up on Stop Violence Against Women in Politics, my Pre-International Womens Day / post presidential election review post.
I was invited to a meeting organised by AA Peaceworks (a non-governmental organisation working on non-violent election) on The Role of Women in Preventing Election Violence. At that meeting the highlights were Review of the 2019 general Election showcasing the role of Okirika & Ogu/Bolo Local Government Area Women in preventing Security Agencies from carting away the ballot boxes and scuttling their mandate. I mentioned it briefly in my previous narrative on the role these women played by sleeping for 3 days and night watching over the collation centre to protect their votes. One of the women narrated in details how they withstood the military men from invading the collation centre.
The most beautiful part of it all is that most of the military men did not like the assignment they were sent to carry out but of course the military code is to obey the last order. They supported the women by given them nocturnal information that they should not give up in what they were doing. The showcased women action ignited the call for action and a 10 member committee was immediately formed. This action also gave women the much needed courage in the Northern parts of Nigeria to carry out their own action in order to protect their votes too.
The forum was of the view that the committee should form their terms of reference and get back to the convening organisation. The committee was made up of grassroot women from different ethnic divides of Rivers and Bayelsa States and I made it to the committee representing Civil Society Organisation.
I took time to educate my syndicate group on the use of Technology in amplifying and raising the voices of women especially using the World Pulse community platform and so many of them promised to check out the site later. Some of them have confirmed to have signed up to World Pulse now and was included into our group work which was later adopted into our strategies. Now the committee has a social media – twitter, Instagram and facebook.
At the first meeting of the committee which happened 2 days after their formation, the following terms of reference were agreed on
To have a just and equitable society were women alongside men can achieve the highest attainable positions in society.
To pursue gender equity in peace processes, politics, elections, governance and in decision making across boards in the Niger Delta.
To amplify Niger Delta Women’s Voices for Peaceful Elections, transition of power and increase participation of women in leadership, governance and politics in the Niger Delta.
- To raise platforms for broad articulation of women’s peace and security perspective and experience in the region; creating a niche for women’s participation in peace processes
- To galvanize women’s actions towards peaceful elections and transition of power within the Niger Delta region
- To amplify women’s voices and increase women’s role and visibility in governance, politics, leadership, decision making and peace building
- To create opportunities for information sharing and continuous capacity strengthening for increased civic engagement for women in the Niger Delta
- To develop result oriented, actionable strategic plans to increase women’s political participation from 2019 to 2023 as part of a pilot post-election reconciliation and peace building process.
Based on the above another larger women forum was planned for 9th – 11th April 2019 in Port Harcourt involving the 6 core Niger Delta States – Rivers, Delta, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom, Cross River and Edo States. The preparation for this meeting is in top gear with theme – Raising Women Voices Towards Nation Building. Participants were drawn majorly from the grassroot especially communities and Local government areas where the supplementary elections will be held; states that are preparing for their governorship and house of assembly elections; civil societies and faith based organisations; Eminent women from different walks of life as mentors. It has been a roller coaster for us since then. Major advocacies are being planned around the 6 states to garner partnerships with government and private sectors.
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 was carefully analysed and scrutinised which has been adopted in Nigeria as the National Action Plan and have been subsequently adopted as SAP and launched in Rivers and Bayelsa States.
This committee is an important one to watch. So far the convening organisation will be supporting us on this journey to harness the potentials of the Niger Delta women and the Nigerian Women by extension.