By Ikechukwu Nnochiri

A coalition of women groups under the aegis of Women’s Voice and Leadership Nigeria Project, on Wednesday, urged President Muhammadu Buhari to involve more women in the decision making process of his administration.

The body, which made the call at the 2nd Annual National Women’s Conference held in Abuja, implored President Buhari to raise the level of women inclusion in the work force and political life of the country, which it said he committed to do before his ascendency to power.

The Country Director of ActionAid Nigeria, Ene Obi, who spoke on behalf of the groups at the conference, maintained that involving women in the decision making process, would help the country to find solutions to some of the problems it is currently faced with,
especially the issue of insecurity.

“I am particularly happy that the women’s groups decided to focus this year’s conversation on women peace and security.

“Not gloating over the sad situation, we find ourselves in, due to rising insecurity, but because this conference provides us opportunity for deeper reflection on gender perspective of the rising insecurity which threatens not just our national unity but our individual and collective peace.

“We continue to see conflicts fought on women bodies. We have seen women used as weapons and targets of violence.

“The disproportionate impact of insecurity on women and girls – children cannot be ignored. We therefore must act as fast as possible to stop this expanding insecurity in Nigeria.

“Acting requires Nigeria to operationalise in all regions of the country, the provisions of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, which enjoins all states to facilitate women’s participation and leadership in peace and security, and which Nigeria committed herself to.

“Acting requires Nigeria not to be doing this in piece meal, but to be wholistic in her response. This implies ensuring that all states are prepared to domesticate and implement the action plans.

“Therefore, the time to act is now. There is no better time than now to enthrone peace. And without women and girls sitting on the table and being part of the peace processes, there will be no advancement in peace and security in the nation.

“ActionAid Nigeria is therefore, calling on all actors – state and non-state – to rethink our security architecture, and to ensure women’s inclusion in the peace processes so that this epidemic that is upon is eradicated.

“We call on President Muhammadu Buhari to raise the level of women inclusion in the work force and political life which he committed to”, she stated.

Likewise, in his goodwill message, the Acting High Commissioner of Canada in Nigeria, Mr. Kevin Tokar, equally stressed that Nigeria could find solutions to some of its problems when more women are involved in decision making processes.

He said: “As you know, Canada has been thinking about gender equality and women’s rights for a long time now. We’ve developed many policies, guidelines, programs but it wasn’t until we launched our FIAP back in 2016 that we started to see these issues with a new kind of clarity.

“Many of you would agree with me that gender inequality and a lack of respect for women’s rights is part of the reason why we have growing levels of violence, conflict, and instability.

“And I’m sure all of you here today would agree that finding solutions to these problems will depend on Nigeria’s ability to involve more women in decision-making processes.

“Whether in National or State Assemblies, in the policing and justice systems, in community-level peace building and governance, and in the highest levels of the business world.

“So much progress has already been made, thanks to your collective efforts, yet we know that societal changes take time. But history has shown us time
and time again that once the wheels start moving and they undoubtedly have in Nigeria, they will not stop”, he added.

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