The United Nations Women is holding a planning and orientation meeting with community based women mentors from four local government areas of Gombe state, on how to promote women engagement in peace and security in northern Nigeria.
The Gender Technical Advisor of UN Women in Gombe State, Rhoda Zira-Diya, said the UN Women was currently operating in three northern states of Adamawa, Gombe and Plateau states, to strengthen women leadership, advance gender equality and improve protection for women and children in conflict settings.
She said the meeting, with the women from Balanga, Kwami, Kaltungo and Yamaltu-Deba local government areas, would strengthen their role in conflict prevention, peacemaking and peace-building.
According to the UN Women Technical Advisor in Gombe, already, four Lead Mentors have been trained in Abuja and will within the two-day meeting, mentor the 32 other women selected from 16 wards of the four local governments, who expected to go back and mentor other women at the grassroots.
The UN Women believes women and children; especially girls are always at the receiving end whenever conflicts break out and that training them will provide strategic direction, overall guidance, mentoring and capacity building.
The women were selected from the Christian Association of Nigeria and the Federation of Muslim Women’s Association of Nigeria, because of their role in the communities in each of the four local government areas.
This is to enable women and girls at all levels to be actively engaged in the mechanism of Peace in the State and Peace Architecture and to form the basis of a networked cadre of women advocates.
According to UN Women, the meeting with the community based mentors became necessary for proper understanding of the programme, so that they know their roles and responsibilities, as well as develop a work plan for the implementation of the programme at the grassroots.
One of the Lead Mentors, Mrs. Hannatu Ibrahim, who has been trained in Abuja, said the community based mentors would go back home more equipped to mentors others in their communities.
She was represented by one of the Lead Mentors, Mrs. Naomi Maiguwa.
“You will go back to your communities and equip other mentors to work with our women, with our girls and men by engaging in promoting peace and security, conflict prevention, peace building, as well as mitigating the impact of conflict and violence upon women and girls,” Mrs. Ibrahim said.
For the Gender Technical Advisor of UN Women in Gombe State, Rhoda Zira-Diya, those selected were the right people for the task of mentoring those at the grassroots.
“You are already leaders. In the north, you are either a Christian or Muslim. And as every woman, you are either in CAN or in FOMWAN. So I think the right people are selected. We can go for other organisations, but we believe this is the right platform because it is already a structured form. Anywhere you go, at the grassroots, at the state, at the national. You all have CAN, you all have and they all are already established structures and we believe it is the right channel where we can follow to reach out to communities to bring change,” Rhoda Zira-Diya said.
Also one of the lead Mentors, Hajia Halima Mahdi shared some of the ways of attaining the set goals.
“You can see that we have started giving them the objectives. From there we are going to show them how to write work plan, which we have already done, we are already implementing our work plan. Fortunately, we are the first people to implement what we were taught in Abuja, out of the three focal states, Plateau, Adamawa and Gombe. We plan immediately we came back from Abuja, we put things on the ground,” said Mrs. Mahdi.
The meeting is expected to produce a joint work plan to increase women’s engagement in peace building and conflict management processes at the state and local government levels.
The UN Women says the overall objectives is to increase the level of awareness of the selected community based women on their roles and responsibilities in their communities, as well as increase commitment and number of women mentors participating in peace and related activities in the selected communities in Gombe State.
The UN Women Programme is being implemented in collaboration with UNICEF and the European Union.