Some participants at the dialogue

By Peter Duru, Makurdi

Participants at a-two-day United States Institute of Peace, USIP, sponsored community dialogue on peace building in the society has advocated joint efforts of both men and women in problem solving and decision making process to achieve sustainable peace and progress in the society.

This was contained a communique issued at the end of the Community Dialogue organized by Iwuese Multipurpose Cooperative Society, held at St. Mary’s Rectory, Gungul, Konshisha Local Government Area, LGA, of Benue state, with the theme, “Active Involvement of Women in Peace Building in Benue State.”

The main thrust of the dialogue was on how to end the exclusion of women in community strengthening and peace building activities.

The communique which was signed by Mrs. Janet Buruku and Mr. Gabriel Gege, noted that “women form 50 percent of the community population, but always almost suffer exclusion. This is because community strengthening and peace building activities have traditionally been almost the exclusive preserve of men.

“The dialogue therefore advocated the joint efforts of both men and women in the problem solving and decision making process.”

The meeting also recognized the value of several other activities, such as education, mentoring, wealth creation and others as a valid way of building peace and strengthening the community. 

The dialogue agreed to establish a platform as a vehicle to carry out several peace building and community strengthening activities; to mitigate the current negative effects exclusion have had on the community such as entrenched poverty, Illiteracy and poor decision making.

The dialogue also agreed to build and strengthen structures that will predict good outcomes for the community such as peace and stability. And to organize and engage key stakeholders such as the traditional and religious institutions on the need to influence attitudes and shift culture towards more women and youth involvement.   

At the end of discussions which were cordial but heated, it was agreed that going forward, advocacy would centre on ensuring that more opportunities are given to women to participate in community peacebuilding and decision making activities.

Earlier in her remarks, the Convener and Lead Facilitator, Ritdimwa Doofan Orga noted that “Peace building and community strengthening activities will always create opportunities that are beneficial to everyone within the community.

“Joint efforts means Joint ownership; Joint ownership means everyone has a stake in the positive outcome,” she said.

In her presentation on “Active Involvement of Women in Peace Building” Wife of the Tor Tiv and paramount ruler of the Tiv tribe, Ngo U Tiv, Her Majesty Prof. Felicia Ayatse commended the organizers and sponsors of the dialogue for putting the meeting together and ensuring it was held in a Benue community.

Represented by the President Tiv Women Agricultural Cooperative Society Ltd., Mrs. Terngu Kaasar, Her Majesty noted that “the need for women to participate in key areas of society cannot be over emphasized.

“As stated, women make up half the population of most societies. Yet, they are left out when decisions which may directly or indirectly affect them are taken.

“They however bear the brunt of the consequences of all conflicts and disagreements arising from wrong decisions made for them by their men folk.

“I agree totally with the foresight which seeks to promote the active involvement of women in peace building efforts in Benue State. We are all aware and have in one way or the other experienced great hardship resulting from conflict and violence meted out on our communities for years now.

“Needless to say that women and children are even deliberate targets of some of these violent attacks.

“In order to equip women take up their rightful positions in society, efforts are directed towards economic and social capacity building of women. This desire has resulted in the creation of a number of initiatives. Some of which are the All Tiv Women Multipurpose, Tiv Traditional Rulers Wives Association, the Tiv Women Agricultural Cooperative Society Ltd. (TIWACOS) among others.”

She noted that “the focal point of the Tiv Women Agricultural Cooperative Society is to build the economic base of a Tiv woman, help her evangelize her community by giving proper and healthy up bringing to her children and the society at large.

“We have learnt from our father, the Tor Tiv (V), Orchivirigh Prof. James Ortese Torzua Ayatse, Begha U Tiv that, the wealth of the Tiv nation is in agriculture, Therefore, the cooperative is going after that wealth with vigor. We believe that with God on our side, we shall conquer.”

Aside Prof. Ayatse, other speakers at the event who were classified as secondary stakeholders including the President, All Tiv Women Multipurpose Cooperative Society, Mrs. Celina Gar harped on the need for men and women to properly organize themselves and do things that are productive and would yield positive results for the good of the community. 

On his part, the Parish Priest of St Mary’s Rectory, Reverend Father Herbert Tyozua enjoined everyone in any community to play active role to continuously preserve peace in order to live in peace and harmony with one another.

Also, Commandant Community Volunteer Guard, Mr. Shima Aishi made passionate appealed on the need for the communities to consciously uphold peace.   

While a prominent member of the community, Mr. Emmanuel Ujege pointed out that since women are also first responders, “they are critical stakeholders and should actively participate in decision making and problem solving activities in the community.”

The meeting had in attendance, selected men and women drawn from 10 communities in Konshisha LGA who were graded as Primary Stakeholders.

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