When I think about the subject of peace and security, I cannot help but think about the pivotal role of our women in the home and society. When I think about the wars, the bloodletting, the unrest, destruction and wanton waste of lives and properties, I cannot help but ask- where are the women?
The reason is simple. The popular parlance which says “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world”, presupposes that women are the central actors in the human family and that they hold the key to societal peace and stability.
In Nigeria for instance, the last decade has witnessed unimaginable upsurge in records of killings and destruction of lives and properties, owing to insurgency and security instability, especially in Northern Nigeria. The Islamic fundamentalist group, Boko Haram did unleash terror on all: infants, children, girls, women and all. Like ravenous wolves they raided villages and devoured hapless citizens.
At some point, it was as though the entire nation was held hostage by this terrorist group, especially when some innocent teenagers, precisely 276 Chibok schoolgirls were abducted and whisked away from by the much dreaded sect on 14th April 2014 and forcefully compelled to renounce their faith. Suffice it to say that the girls were also raped and subjected to all kinds of inhuman treatment.
At first, the news of their abduction was greeted with disbelief. Evn the government at the time, headed by President Goodluck Jonathan dismissed the incident as a carefully crafted rumour targeted at discrediting his government. And when later it became clear that the girls were indeed captured by terrorists, Nigerians went livid with anger, even as the government was completely clueless as to how to secure their freedom.
Men, women, youths, mothers, civil society organizations, students, clerics and everyone stormed the streets in heart-wrenching protests, demanding that government swing into action to rescue the girls.
With time, the international community threw their weight behind our agitation, calling the Nigerian government and all stakeholders to take responsibility for the tragedy and do its best to rescue them.
Gradually, days turned into weeks, weeks into months and months into years. Now, it’s been four full years of indescribably pain, frustration, nightmare, agony, hopelessness and endless waiting.
Although some of the girls were released through the intervention of the present administration, headed by President Muhammadu Buhari, very many are still lost in captivity; subdued, crashed and reduced to sex slaves. Yes, they were raped and disrobed, not only physically but psychologically and emotionally.
In 2017 it was another case of abduction of innocent schoolgirls from Dapchi. Interestingly, these ones were able to secure their release on time, except for one Leah Shuaibu who till date has remained in captivity for her refusal to renounce her faith and convert to Islam.
Out of the many questions that continue to bug our minds, one thing has remained incomprehensible and that is- Why would anyone choose to kidnap innocent girls seeking formal education and the prospects of a brighter future? Why would any sane person parade such hapless girls as bargaining tools in the fight against government and constituted authority, all in the name of religion?
Who actually raised these men and women that have turned carnivorous beasts? Where are the mothers that tendered and nurtured them? How and why did they turn out to become societal menace? How did they turn out as beasts of burden, with no sense of remorse or sympathy for fellow humans, and especially vulnerable groups like children, women and girls?
Psychologists uphold that if a child grows in an atmosphere hostility and rejection, such a child naturally tends to be resentful, hurtful and harmful. It is also believed that conflict in the home triggers both psychological and behavioral problems in children, which if not well managed could lead to severe negative attitudinal damage.
Research also shows that when parents are in an unhappy marriage, the conflict compromises the social and emotional well-being of children by threatening their sense of security in the family, which invariably stirs problems during adolescence, including depression and anxiety.
These and many more are perhaps the reasons why many of our youths today are increasingly demonstrating strong sense of restiveness, dissatisfaction and disaffection towards constituted authorities, not only in the nuclear family but also in the nation at large.
Added to this is the harsh economic condition which has subjected many youths to untold hardship in the face of the abortion of their dreams and aspirations.
Where do we go from here? How do we ensure a stable, safe and secure society?
I believe that the future of security is women. I believe that women as life moulders hold the key to shaping the mindset and character of children and that they can explore this to the best advantage for national peace. I believe we are the real changemakers; the answer the numerous questions on the minds of our policy makers.
Security for me means love in the family, in the community, in the workplace, at religious centers, the market place, the sport centers and everywhere.
I believe when women are given the necessary support, trust and encouragement, the well of love in them is unleashed to nourish one and all. By and large the warmth spreads around and everyone gets to savour the blessing. The aroma of peace and serenity automatically spreads to all and sundry.
So let’s start from the home. As daughters, sisters, mothers, nieces, friends, mothers-in-law, lets demonstrate genuine love; devoid of suspicion, envy, jealousy, selfishness, bitterness and hatred.
Who says women are second-class citizens? Who says women have nothing to contribute to national peace and security? Indeed, the future of peace and security lies with the women. Indeed, the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.