Peace only achievable with women in decision making – Olajumoke Ganiyat Jenyo

Olajumoke Ganiyat Jenyo is a Researcher at the National Defence College Centre for Strategic Research and Studies with over seven years of multi sector experience in research and programming. In this chat with ENE OSHABA she speaks her on the need for inclusion of women on decision tables as well Nigeria’s security situation.

What inspired you to research on insecurity and humanitarian issues as it affects women?

Tell us more about yourself?

My research interests are in the aspects of women in peace and security, gender, humanitarian support, peace support operations, migration and national development.

I was motivated by the compassion and the desire to help suffering people in all facet of life especially the women.

My little experience stems from my modest effort in assisting the needy or those that required my help or assistance locally but it a gradual process.

I am determined and focused in d humanitarian services and goals.

The current security and humanitarian situation in Nigeria is extremely pathetic as the country has been bedevilled with a myriad of security crises, which are on the increase due to inadequacies associated with conflict resolution mechanisms. These crises include rampant cases of kidnapping, armed banditry, farmer-herder clashes and most potently, insurgency which the country has been grappling with, from 2009 till date.

The attendant consequences have led to loss of millions of lives, livelihood and properties as well as rising occurrences out of school children, internal displacements and refugee situations. This have also occasioned incessant breakdown of law and order, leading to flagrant abuse of human rights which women are more at the receiving end.

What are the effects of this situation on women?

Insecurity and the end result which is humanitarian crises have effects on men, women, boys and girls but the impact is more on women and children as well as the physically challenged and elderly members of the population.

The impact of humanitarian crises on women, either in terms of armed conflicts or other forms of insecurity, is most worrisome, alarming and disheartening.

Regrettably, the effects range from physical fatigue, emotional torture and gender based violence to psychological trauma, health hazard and disruption of economic activities.

Looking at the physical effects of humanitarian crises on women, cases of injury, death and disability amongst others, are evident.

Emotional effect manifests in suicidal cases, deliberate self-harm, depression, post traumatic disorder, anxiety disorder, withdrawal syndrome, low self-esteem as well as abuse of drugs and psychotropic substances.

The Economical effects could be in the loss of livelihood, reduction of negotiation power and lack of access to basic amenities of life.

Gender based violence is evident in cases of rape involving women and girls as well as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps, or even forced to survival sex (trading sex), with their attendant health hazards such as sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies.

Women are demanding inclusion on decision making tables of security talks. Do you think they can make a difference?

To eliminate humanitarian crises or better still to reduce it means that the conflict prevention is fundamental. Most of the crises we have today are as a result of unsettled issues either due to ethnic rivalry and other social vices.

The ability and capacity of women in prevention of conflicts, potentials foe mediation, reconciliation and promotion of sustainable peace cannot be over emphasized.

Statistics and history has proven that the probability of sustainable peace is high where there is any agreement sponsored by women. There should be an inclusive approach in peace and security operations so the people can embrace the approaches.

So it is time to look at women, not only but has human being that can sustain peace. Thus sustainable peace can only be achieved if women are involved in the decision making at the security table and all other sectors that contributes to growth of nation for enhanced national development.

It is imperative to recognise and appreciate the potentials of women in preventing conflicts and promoting sustainable peace. Therefore, there is the need to include women or make them equal partners in all peace processes (conflict resolution, prevention, negotiation, peace building and post conflict reconstruction). Pertinently, the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security has laid much emphasis on this aspect.

More so, there must be synergy between the various stakeholders of the humanitarian sector, with concerted efforts on the workings of the disaster management circle.

The disaster management circle which is of three phases-before, during and after. Before is the phase when there is preparation to mitigate the risk and you also prepare for should in case it happens. During is how to respond if it happens and the After Phase is the recovery phase. So, the stakeholders need to double up efforts in mitigating these crises from assessment, strategic planning, monitoring among others.

The government needs to also consider the implementation United Nations policies as well as regional and national policies geared towards eradicating gender inequality, unemployment, and poverty as well as embrace inclusive governance and peaceful settlement of conflicts towards ensuring sustainable peace.

How do you think insecurity, humanitarian crises can be adequately addressed in Nigeria?

Basically, this can be mitigated by having the political will to alleviate the factors responsible for them such as increasing unemployment, poverty, poor educational condition, bad governance occasioned especially by corruption, gender inequality, corruption, lack of accountability, poor infrastructure and difficulties in doing small and medium scale businesses among others.

Accordingly, we need to integrate women’s perspectives into peace and security. Aside the fact that women and children are disproportionately impacted by armed conflicts which makes them a major stakeholder in security issues, there is the need to appreciate the essential role of women in maintaining peace.

Efforts are already geared towards reorientation of the people through sensitisation on the need to change and break the patriarchal culture that exists in Nigeria, but this is not enough.

The women can still do better as they constitute almost half of the country’s population, so the men working in isolation of the women will not engender development across all sectors of the economy.

How would you assess government’s commitment to protecting women against insecurity and humanitarian crises?

Currently, the efforts of the Nigerian government at protecting women against humanitarian crises are quite appreciable but can be better.

What is your call to the government and other stakeholders?

My call to the Nigerian government and other stakeholders in ensuring that women are protected against insecurity and humanitarian crises is to embrace whole of nation approach that will ensure that women’s perspectives into peace and security are adequately integrated.

This would involve recognising and appreciating the potentials of women in preventing conflicts and promoting sustainable peace, through their inclusion in all peace processes: conflict resolution, prevention, negotiation, peace building and post conflict reconstruction.

Above all, the government and other stakeholders should work together towards the implementation of the provisions of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.

What would be your advice to women to get their pride of place?

The truth is that for a woman’s effort to be recognised or appreciated, she has to put in an effort twice as that of a man would do. So, a woman needs to acquire all necessary qualifications and experience that will lead them to greater height and enable them to stand equal amongst men. That urge to continue to build capacity in all you do to make it better should keep growing.

There is need for mentoring and reorientation of the younger men and women. I also advise women not to lose hope despite all visible and invisible bottlenecks, cultural and religious barriers, and patriarchal mentality amongst others.

They should chase goals rather than dreams. Women should ensure maximum participation in all leadership roles in wherever they found themselves and contribute significantly when given the opportunity to do so.

Sexual and gender based violence has not just become a global issue but a national one too with so many negative consequences majorly on women, therefore women need to speak up, and encourage all others to do so as well as participate in high level advocacy that will generate result in the fight against scourge and the promotion of women’s right.

Most importantly women are epitome of morals and we must all lead and live by example.