Male and female community leaders from four local government areas in Gombe State have converged for a one day meeting, focusing on how to lower tension in their various communities.
According to the Gender Technical Advisor of UN Women, Plateau State, Ms. Sewuese Surma, the community leaders were selected from Yamaltu Deba, Balanga, Kaltungo and Kwami local government areas.
They represent one from each of the three senatorial districts, as well as from one community that has witnessed violent conflict and another from a community that is stable, so as to serve as an example to the others.
Ms. Surman said the meeting was to strengthen women’s leadership, advance gender equality and improve protection for women and children in conflict settings, as well as give community leaders the opportunity to understand women, peace and security programmes.
The workshop tagged Promoting Women’s Engagement in Peace and Security in Northern Nigeria, by the UN WOMEN, is being implemented and funded by the European Union and supports the Federal Government and the three Northern States of Adamawa, Gombe and Plateau States.
UN Women believes that in every conflict and violence setting, women and children bear the brunt, yet they are largely excluded from formal conflict management mechanism and peace management, as well as decision making for their protection.
Against this development, it says hosting the community leaders from the four local government areas of Gombe State became necessary.
The Gombe State Commissioner of Women Affairs, Mrs. Rabi Daniel, said the development prompted the government to align with UN Women in order to strengthen women’s role in conflict prevention, and peace building, to mitigate the impact of conflict upon women and girls.
Mrs. Rabi said community leaders were expected to live up to their responsibilities by ensuring involvement of women in every development agenda.
“Our community leaders are key to this programme. This because they are engaged in intercommunity dialogue for mediation efforts, hold local meetings, produce and disseminate awareness designed to lower tension in the event of conflict. I humbly request you to live up to your responsibilities by ensuring that women are taken along in all phases of development,” the Gombe State Women Affairs Commissioner said.
The Gender Technical Advisor of UN Women, Plateau State, Ms. Sewuese Surma, said the reason of bringing the community leaders for the planning workshop was to ascertain their security needs and activities, as well share experience and engage women in decision making.
“The reason why we are here today is for community leaders to identify the sources of conflict in their various communities and come up with possible solutions for funding from UN Women, to enable them to implement as it relates to Women Peace and Security,” Ms. Surma said.
One of the lead mentors of women in Gombe State, Dr. Hannatu Ibrahim, called on the participants to go back to their various communities with the desire to engage women in decision making, particularly concerning peace and security.
“What I told these participants is that, as men, we should engage women and youth in peace activities and we should not leave it to government. So I told them that as you go back home, having been brought here, to be able to discuss issues that are pertaining the engagement of women in peace and security, we need to go back to our communities and create awareness and step down what we have learnt here and discuss it with them, so that we can implement it within ourselves, said Dr. Ibrahim.
Overall, UN Women said the objective of the conference was to have a comprehensive list of needs and activities that would lower tension in target communities for support, as well as increase awareness and the type of support to be provided to community leaders.