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  • Osita Charles Nwankwo with contributions from

Advocating a gendered approach towards Peace

‘I envision a world where none are burdened with the pain of grief; where children have a well-adjusted childhood and never have to grow up in camps; where women and girls are neither taken as spoils of war nor exploited in conflict; where dignity and tolerance is the hallmark of daily existence and a world where love abounds.' Vweta

Monday, 21st September, 2015 was World Peace Day. A day first celebrated in 1982, the Day has seen several pluses on the push against wars and misunderstanding.

On October 31st, 2000, the United Nations Security Council adopted resolution S/RES/1325 on women’s role in peace building and safeguarding.

With the 2015 global theme of ‘Partnership for Peace – Dignity for All’, the day celebrated a tacit agreement on the need to integrate women the more in any peace process.

Yet, fourteen years, ten months and 3 weeks after UN Resolution 1325, the eighteen parameters set forth for proactive engagement of women in peace building have suffered imperfect execution.

Equally left comatose is the outcome document of the 23rd Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly entitled ‘Women 2000: Gender Equality, Development and Peace for the Twenty-First Century’

At ASHA, our view is that peace building is a prerequisite for a world free of conflict. And, yesterday being the World’s Peace Day, the clarion call goes to all women and girls to be peace builders.

The burden on the resources of well-meaning countries hosting the record number of refugees fleeing stagnation, starvation and strive; the wars and insurgencies in Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, Ukraine and Yemen; the social, economic and psychological dislocation caused to women and girls in North-East Nigeria and the insufficiently catered for internally displaced persons; the rape of women in conflict zones, in educational institutions and in homes, shows that peace is a far cry from the spirit and tenets of the Beijing Declaration and Planform for Action.

Anecdotal and factual evidence shows that women are the most affected groups –aside children- in instances of war and occupation. However, they are the least involved in peace talks and reconciliation processes.

On Monday, several tokenism would have been thrown in the direction of peace. Women will have been used as props that are good only for photo-ops. When it is time for the art of influence, policy formulation and execution, they will be cast aside on the time worn glass-ceiling excuses of patriarchy.

The United Nations is 70 years old; Beijing Conference (the ‘women’ was pointedly omitted as there are never international conferences labelled ‘men’!) was 20 years ago. Its 12 points strategic objectives precedes the Millennium Development Goals which expires this year and the Sustainable Development Goals which will occupy the attention of the world till 2030.

The timeline between 1945 and 1995 witnessed many changes. The seismic shifts shaped the world of today. But it is not a fair world to half of the world’s population. 20 years ago, these 12 objectives were listed as critical

  • Women education and training;

  • Women and health;

  • Women and poverty;

  • Women and violence;

  • Women and armed conflict;

  • Women and the economy;

  • Women in power and decision making;

  • Institutional mechanism for the advancement of women;

  • Women and human rights;

  • Women and the media;

  • Women and the environment; and,

  • The girl-child.

How many have been achieved? How many remain? It is not impossible but the political and socio-cultural will of the society to empower women is still in short supply. And, Vweta's words quoted below resonates with me:

"To attain peace, the world needs a paradigm shift, we need to explore what has failed and what has not been explored and maximally exploited. Then, perhaps, the world will be ready for a different type of leadership. A leadership void of patriarchal undertones."

ASHA asks, only, that a level field should be the start point for every man and woman.

Women must be seen as equal partners in a world where women and men are increasingly interdependent.

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