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UN Women Country Office in Nigeria calls for women involvement in humanitarian action

by Christiana Gokyo, Jos

The Deputy Country Representative and Officer-in- Charge (OIC) of UN Women Country Office in Nigeria, Mr. Lansana Wonneh, has asserted that, sustainable peace, recovery and inclusive humanitarian action in Nigeria require the full, equal, and meaningful participation of diverse women, including women and girls with disabilities.

Mr. Wonneh was speaking during the launch of the programme on ‘Women, Peace and Security in Nigeria (Phase 11)’ at Government House, Little Rayfield Jos, the Plateau State on Tuesday.

He observed that, women and girls with disabilities are disproportionately impacted by armed conflicts; yet, remain underreported and excluded from peace and security processes.

He affirmed that, the report of the Secretary-General in 2020 on Women, Peace and Security reiterated that, women with disabilities are likely to be prioritized by/or have access to humanitarian response efforts and are less likely to be included in peace building, despite accounting for nearly one-fifth of all women worldwide.

Mr. Wonneh reiterated that, “That is why UN Women will take deliberate action to ensure that diverse women facing multiple interesting forms of discrimination are mainstreamed into this WPS project implementation.”

While commending the government and the people of Plateau State for its efforts and successes recorded over the years in accelerating the Woman, Peace and Security agenda, he said “This is in order to further expand the scope of their partnership to date.”

He noted that, UN Women, with the support from the Government of Norway, will work to deepen cooperation with Plateau State over the years for the next three years, saying, “Plateau and Kaduna are the two selected primary beneficiaries of the programme, while Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue and Gombe are secondary beneficiary states.”

According to him, the overall objective of the programme was to realise a more peaceful and gender-equal society by creating an enabling environment for the implementation of internationally-agreed commitments, including thorough policy intervention and capacity building support to women, in line with the provisions of Security Council Resolution 1325.

The Deputy Country Representative noted that, 14 states in Nigeria have domesticated the National Action Plan through the development and implementation of State Action Plans (SAPs), saying, “Plateau is one of these States.”

He stated that, as of July 2021, out of 98 UN member states, 51 percent have adopted a National Action Plan on UNSR 1325, and congratulated the government and people of Nigeria for taking a bold step to develop and launch its first and second National Action Plans in 2013 and 2017, with the support from UN Women and other partners.

Mr. Wonneh explained that, “The programme is on promoting Women’s Engagement in Peace and Security in Northern Nigeria, from 2014-2018, when it was implemented by UN Women with support from the European Union, and Plateau State adopted its second State Action Plan in 2017 and has recorded some impressive achievements.”

He pointed out that, with the support from the Government of Canada, UN Women are set to commence the implementation of a four-year Women Political Empowerment and Leadership Programme, and the Plateau is one of the selected States for the programme, which is designed to strengthen Women’s inclusion and representation in decision making and public life.

Also speaking, the Deputy Ambassador for Government of Norway in Nigeria, Skjolaas Ingrid, said “Since the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution in 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, the positive and decisive role played by women in peace processes has been widely acknowledged by the International Community.

“The inclusion of women has shown to be crucial, not only in matters of Women’s Rights, but also to improve operational effectiveness, build resilience, prevent and resolve conflicts and to sustain peace,” she stated.

According to her, “Where women are involved in conflict prevention and peacekeeper, we build more trust and we are more effective. Where there is political will, sexual violence can be addressed, and when the capable women are involved to prevent conflicts or mediate conflicts on all levels, the solutions and peace are more susceptible.”

She noted thus: “In spite of all the knowledge and experience, we still have a long way to go to include women as an institutionalized, normal practice without always having to specifically raise the importance of it.”

The Deputy Ambassador said, “In searching for peace, we are still not tapping into the resources of 50 percent of our population, and to achieve and maintain peace, women need to be part of the process and the solution.

“This is why Norway has WPS as one of our main priorities as an elected member of the UN Security Council, and an important component in our foreign policy. It is also a main priority in our cooperation with Nigeria,” she noted.

She observed that, as elections are approaching, all people deserve representation in the most important decision-making institution in their country, adding that, women’s representation in political institutions and processes is important in its own right, but it is also fundamental to economic growth and development, stressing that, growth and development are fundamental for peace.

“Inclusion of women is not only the right thing to do. It is the smart thing to do, because societies where women participate in the work force, in politics, in peace building and conflict resolution, simply do better,” she stated.

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