The holidays have come to an end. It is another new year with lots of expectations, hope, and promises. Families came together to celebrate with one another. Some were not privileged to have this opportunity. As a woman working in the field of peace and security, I am always thinking of how I can contribute to making every new year safer for women and girls, men and boys and especially those who are most vulnerable in our society. My work has exposed me to so much joy and sadness at the same time. When a conflict is resolved amicably, lives are saved, and relationships are restored. However, sometimes the result is pain, broken relationships and loss of lives. I feel like it was just yesterday when I graduated with a degree in peace and conflict studies. My passion in life has always been to pursue a successful life in the arts and write life-changing inspiring stories while working towards a violence-free society. My graduation would strengthen my resolve to immerse myself in a life of compassion, love, and hope for my community.
As I begin to draw my action plan for 2020, I am thinking of my uncle’s family. More specifically, his wife especially at this time of the year. My uncle works in the Kenyan army. For the last couple of years, he has been based in our neighboring country of Somalia, making a significant contribution to peace in the war-tone country and contributing to regional peace. In 2019, I was delighted that he graced my graduation ceremony. It was one of those rare occasions when he came home on leave to visit with his family. We got to talk briefly about war and the impact it has on a country’s citizens as well as on the lives of soldiers and their families. During our conversations, my aunty was listening silently and keenly most of the time. Contributing little or nothing at all. I looked at her and wondered what was on her mind. As our conversations continued, I noticed the gaze in her eyes and listened quietly when she finally chose to speak. She spoke of their day to day lives without my uncle. At that time, the big role women play in their families while their husbands are deployed abroad was emphasized in my mind. In this new age of emerging conflicts and wars, they take on a significant leadership role that is impactful to their family and the society, instantly becoming a contemporary leader in a world where women are increasingly playing a significant role in the outcome of tomorrow's citizens. For instance, my aunty organizes forums and meetings with fellow military wives where they provide emotional and psychological support to each other and their children. This support extends to their extended families where they become mentally and physically present to their in-laws, especially in an African setting.
The new year will see many military officers from all over the world return to work after the holidays. An increase in conflict is an increase in the number of women taking on leadership responsibilities in their homes and in their communities. Africa alone has experienced more than 15,000 conflicts in 2019. According to the latest United Nations Peacekeeping Report 110,000 peacekeepers have been deployed globally to maintain peace in fragile states. In the spirit of building and strengthening women's leadership, it is my hope that we will work towards recognizing and support military wives as well as women serving in military spaces. These are women who have gone out of their way to promote peace and ensure that communities are left standing on their feet. It is our duty to stand with them during this difficult and trying time.