An international symposium on maximizing the impact of women, peace and security policies in Africa ended in Nairobi, Kenya, 25th July 2014. The event attracted 12 Nigerian participants including foremost women rights activist Ms Ene Ede, founder of Equity Advocates, Abuja. She spoke to WENESO OROGUN who in this report dwells on the significance of the Nairobi conference in the light of sagging business confidence in Nigeria.
The third quarter 2014 aggregate business confidence index (BCI) dropped from 19.4 percent in Q2-2014 to 14.3 percent, a decline of 5.1 percent in the confidence level among business operators over the last three months, LEADERSHIP learned at the weekend. The index which is computed quarterly by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), fluctuated over the last two quarters (10.5 percent in Q1 and 19.4 percent in Q2, 2014). The drop of the BCI scores at this time suggests that business leaders are largely pessimistic about expanding their investment over the next few months citing security concerns driven largely by Boko Haram insurgency.
According to LCCI, Nigeria’s BCI scores over the years have continue to trail below the 50 percent global business confidence threshold below which investors and business leaders become wary about the state of the economy and the challenging business environment. “The key factors that mostly depressed the confidence level of business leaders at this time are security challenges across the country, political transition/electioneering activities and associated risks…”, the report authors pointed out.
The foregoing evidence of the negative impact of insecurity on business confidence in the country is bad news for Nigerians and their friends because BCI is a leading economic indicator designed to measure the degree of optimism on the state of the economy that business leaders express through their investment and spending decisions. Decreasing business confidence is often a pointer to slowing economic activities because business owners are likely to decrease their investment. The more confident entrepreneurs and managers feel about the business environment, the more likely they are to make new investments, create jobs and positively impact the economy.
UN Resolution 1325
What is the level of women participation in Nigeria’s counter-insurgency strategy today? Can the energies currently devoted to the sit-ins by the #BringBackOurGirls campaigners be better channeled for maximum results? How are women perspectives reflected in peace building measure in Nigeria today?
These and similar posers find ready answers in United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 of 2000 which Nigeria’s women affairs and social development minister, Zainab Maina, described as “the first international legal and political framework recognising the disproportionate impact of armed conflict on women as well as the pivotal role of women in peace building”.
Resolution 1325 requires each country to prepare a National Action Plan (NAP) for ending exclusion of women in formal peace and governance processes. For example, research has demonstrated that globally in the last 25 years, only one in 40 signatories to peace agreements has been a woman with the result that women’s security concerns are rarely fully captured.
Within the context of Resolution 1325, gender inequality is seen as a cause of conflict, a consequence of conflict and a form of conflict. Thus, looking at women’s rights, peace and security is not only important on its merit but also essential for preventing violence and ensuring meaningful and sustainable peace for all.
The Nairobi Conference
The Institute for Inclusive Security, Washington DC, Cord aid, Netherlands and University of Nairobi, Kenya brought together last month, representatives of 16 African countries that have developed National Action Plans for the implementation of UNSCR 1325 and related resolutions to take stock of the journey so far. Other participants at the week-long event in Kenya included civil society organisations, armed forces, police, UN agencies, regional organisations, community based organisations, academia, private sector and fashion entrepreneurs. The theme of the Nairobi meeting was “ maximizing impact of women, peace and security policies in Africa”. Participants came from Burundi, Cote D’Ivoire, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Finland, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Jordan, Kenya, Liberia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Uganda, and United States.
Nigeria was represented by a team of 11 participants including foremost women rights activist Ms Ene Ede, founder of Equity Advocates, who spoke to LEADERSSHIP at the weekend. She also collated the impressions of some of the Nigerians at the event.
According to Ede, the symposium was also meant to celebrate African leadership of the NAP. The continent has 16 NAPs and needed to share expertise and experience for sustainable and inclusive peace and security. It turned out that many of the 16 NAP countries have not made much progress with implementation of their plans. Hence, participants resolved, among others:
- That more knowledgeable, motivated and passionate champions are needed to help drive the implementation process.
- That increased transparency requires data and that information that is not classified should be made easily accessible to stakeholders.
- Localisation of the NAPs is necessary to meet local needs
- That Monitoring and Evaluation activities are key components required to drive the process of efficient implementation
- That accountability mechanisms should be put in place including initiatives such as “situation room” and a credible think-tank capable of holding even women themselves to account..
- That government at all levels should create enabling environment for multi stakeholders, private, public, CSOs, traditional institutions, faith groups, to build synergy to achieve NAP implementation.
Nigerian Participants Speak
My first natural reaction is the media gap. Media is required to drive the beautiful documents that Nigeria has produced. No country has a sustained media engagement so far. Media participation in Nairobi was poor. Media coverage of the historic conference was bzero. CCTV was not there. The other issue is localization. Few countries have moved beyond elitist and urban-based programmes. We need more women to engage with the NAP implementation process. Police, paramilitary officers should be more involved.
Women are not in the mainstream of peace and security work. They are confined to humanitarian and care-giving work most of which is unpaid. Though their contribution is low in terms of generating crisis, women are made to sacrifice a lot when crisis erupts. With regard to financing, budgetary allocations are low. A major concern is locating the NAP in the ministry of women affair which has traditionally received low budgetary allocations. Review of funding has to be effected. Boys and girl should be brought in early to enable them grow with good values about peace and security.
Florence Iheme, Ag Director,
Early Warning Directorate,
Dept of Political Affairs, Peace &
For me, the Nairobi Symposium was a call to action; an eye-opener. It was my first contact with Resolution 1325 to be honest (yes, believe it or not). It’s amazing how such a resolution and action plans developed will impact on the achievement of the MDGs in terms of poverty, access to health care, water, sanitation and school enrolment/completion/retention amongst others. Iit is only when there’s peace and security and women having a say in the peace process that we can actually achieve the MDGs A lot of work and mobilisation have been done since the internationalisation of the Gender Agenda by the UN in the early seventies. Although there has been progress, this has been measured and varies from one country/region to another.
So for me, the just concluded Nairobi symposium was significant in trying to familiarise practitioners with some accountability tools. Gathering evidence is one of the easiest ways we can measure what has been done against the good intentions of the various NAPs.
Mrs. Nkechi Florence Onwukwe,
Deputy Director, Ministry of
Women Affairs and, Abuja.
There is need for all to buy-in in any area of focus to implement the Nigeria NAP. Any area (s) anyone thinks we can work together, let us share the possibilities of doing so. The ministry will invite all that participated at Nairobi Symposium to a stakeholders meeting at the earliest opportunity.
Heartland Alliance Nigeria,
Health and Human Rights
I am really happy that the Nairobi Symposium offered an opportunity to meet great women from home and abroad who are purposeful in highlighting the immense role women play in peace and development across the world. I am proud to be part of a global movement to revolutionalise gender interventions through use of data to track investment and outcome. I am most excited at the simplification of indicators and how M&E could be tailored to local context relevant to each country priorities.
Another high point for me is in embracing human diversity and recognition of partnership in the realisation of our collective dream for a peaceful, secure and prosperous nation where women have equal opportunity to bring on board their immense skills and competency in addressing our numerous challenges.
Ayisha Osori, CEO, Nigerian
Women Trust Fund, Nigeria
It means the opportunity to take ownership (part) of the NAP and improve on it and understand it the better to advocate for it and ensure that enough people are aware and involved. It also means the chance to share stories and successes with others around the continent and take comfort in the fact that many of the stories are similar and confirm that we are all human regardless of ethnicity, race and/or religion.
Joy Anyaso, Preident WILPF,
There are huge opportunities for us to continue discussions post Nairobi. The urgent need is the localisation of the NAP in Nigeria.
Anthony Abah, Research and
The Symposium made me more proud of being a Nigerian. And the fact that the Nigerian NAP was praised by many. I also discovered we have similar challenges across the region and Nigeria is not alone in this struggle. Most importantly, we have some gaps in the NAP that we can still fill.