The United Nations Women and its partner, Search for Common Ground have emphasised the need for conflict analysts to always evaluate how conflicts affect women and men differently and avoid making assumptions about the relations, roles, and needs of women and men affected by violent conflict.
The two organisations are concerned that the issue of gender dimension is not considered during conflict analysis, hence the call to focus on gender issues, which should encompass different levels in order to receive a full picture of how violent conflict impacts on gender relations and inequalities.
The views were shared by the UN Women and the non-governmental organisation, Search for Common Ground Nigeria, as it implement the EU funded programme on Promoting Women’s Engagement in Peace and Security in Northern Nigeria, in a one day consultative workshop on the gender dimension of the farmer/herder conflict in Adamawa, Gombe and Plateau States.
They call for a gender analysis of violent conflict to be repeated regularly so as keep up with the changing circumstances and adopt projects and programs accordingly.
Four topics formed the basis for discussions by the participants, who looked at the social impact of farmer-herder conflict on women, the economic impact of farmer-herder conflict on women and their livelihood, the contributions of women in driving the conflict and reinforcing the vicious cycle of farmer-herder conflict and the role of women in conflict prevention, transformation and post-conflict reconciliation – including trauma management in the target states.
Mrs. Tamwakat Golit is the Project Manager, Women and Security, the Search for Common Ground Nigeria, believes women are major actors in fuelling or resolving conflict, hence the need for them to be considered during conflict analysis.
“Due to the position God has placed on the women, she has more of the skills and the power to actually speak with her and also bring the children close to her, which are mostly the youths who are used in perpetrating most of these violent conflict. And by the time she does that, of course peace will reign in our communities. And by the time her skills are built, most especially in terms of mediation and negotiation and then her leadership skills are being built, you will be amazed at how far women can go , because based on the WPS programme, (Women in Peace and Security),the little empowerment that these women got in the area of their skills being built either in leadership positions and then the few who have been included to be part of traditional councils, we can see the amazing work they do,” said Mrs. Golit.
The focus of the workshop was mainly on the gender differences triggered by the conflict, such as the new aspects of the conflict, which is the role women and men play in conflict and peace processes and how are they are affected differently.
It also focused on how the life conditions of women and men change often rapidly during the different phases of violent conflict and gender disparities and inequalities often increase.
The Gender Technical Advisor of the UN Women in Gombe State, Mrs. Rhoda Zira-Dia, highlighted what the workshop aimed to achieve.
“We know that this farmer/herder conflict has been a national issue and most times when people report on it, they don’t normally look at it from the gender perspective. So this meeting is a meeting a meeting of stakeholders, including the farmers and the herders themselves, in collaboration with other relevant stakeholders. They are here to analyze and tease out those gender dimensions that have to do with the farmer and herder conflict and a lot of lessons learned have been shared by the locals themselves, the issues, how they affect women and girls and all that,” Mrs. Zira-Dia said.
Also in attendance at the workshop was Mallam Abubakar Idris, a lecturer with the Department of Political Science, Gombe State University, who believes that the women, being major casualties of any violent conflict have a great role to play in conflict prevention, resolution and reconciliation.
“Women have role to play, actually, as mothers in their houses they have to at least encourage their husbands to engage in peace keeping and also for them to engage in peacekeeping. Because if you look at the literatures now, there are limited literatures about the participation of women in peacekeeping and they have role to play, because if you see somebody or a child displaying a bad behavior in the society, it’s from their mothers actually. So you see they have a vital role to play for peace keeping, peace prevention and transformation of conflicts in our society,” said Mallam Idris.
The UN Women and the Search for Common Ground Nigeria say the overall objective of the workshop is to ensure that questions are always asked on how different aspects affect women and men differently.