By Ken Meju
The near absenceof mention of issues critical to women in the Nigerian media will soon be athing of the past. This is because journalists rising from a training on theimplementation of the United Nations Resolution on Security, UNSCR 1325, havemade personal commitments to project issues on abuse of women rightsparticularly in conflict situations greater attention. They also promised toraise calls for inclusion of women in peace-building.
The was the outcome of a training on amplifying women’s voices for peace and implementing the UNSCR 1325 was a collaboration between the West African Network for Peace-building, WANEP, Nigeria and her global sister, GNWP, Global Network of Women Peace-builders, which held February 4-5 at Bolton White Hotel, Abuja to sensitize the media on UNSCR 1325 and fashion out ways to stimulate its implementation in the country.
Welcomingparticipants drawn from varied media organizations across the country, nationalcoordinator of WANEP, Nigeria, Bridget Osakwe, said Nigeria is plagued byvaried conflicts –armed,pastoral/herdsmen, militancy, ethnic, etc, because of the complex nature of thecountry and even though the major impacts of these are faced by women andchildren, women’s voices are very minimal in the public sphere and women are missing in the peace architectureof the country whereas women are recognized as vital to enduring peace building.
Osakwe said the media, as the Fourth Estate of theRealm constitutionally charged with theduty of informing the people and shaping discuss to influence policies, areimportant to changing the narrative on women generally and in peace-building.
She challengedthe media to put on a gender lens and begin to write women into conflict bypresenting their perspectives and suggestions on ways of checking conflict andsustain peace.
Said she: “Media is a key partner in promoting broadpublic awareness and therefore effectively implementing UNSCR 1325. We want each journalist to ask,what can I do to promote this agenda, and make sure the representation of womenin the Nigerian media is changed?
“When mediareporters adopt a gender lens, they become key actors in promoting broad publicawareness of WPS (Women Peace and Security), support and recognize the rolewomen play in preventing conflict, building and sustaining peace”.
In her presentation, programme coordinator of GNWP, Ms Agnieszka Fal-Dutra Santos stressed that when reporters adopt a gender lens, they become key actors in promoting broad public awareness of issues on women, peace and security, WPS, support and recognize the role women play in conflict prevention , peace-building and sustenance.
According to herit is the media that will set the agenda for government and the people torecognize need to change approach on issues concerning women.
“People andgovernment cannot implement what they do not know. In our work in over 20countries we always see media as our main ally. We do not want the media to bean afterthought. We want it to be at the front and center of implementation ofthese important international laws. We hope this workshop will be a long andfruitful partnership with key media players in Nigeria”, she stressed.
Noting thatwomen have transformed from being merely victims in conflict situations tochange agents, the GWNP coordinator said the UN has recognized this shift and provided room to accommodate womenin peacebuilding through UNSCR 1325 and already, there are women in suchstructures in over 40 countries.
“There are womenin over 40 countries. UN SCR 1325 encourages women to participate in alllevels. The media can be of use towomen’s cause by amplifying their voices in peace and security issues. Womenare transformed elements of Resolution 1325. They are transformed from the violated to actors.
Before now theywere the victims, the violated but now they are change agents, she explainedbut lamented that women are still far from being actively involved in peacebuildingat both local and national levels.
Agneiszka challengedjournalists to be women’s allies to raise their voices with regards toResolution 1325, expanding awareness on what it is all about, increasingknowledge about it, discussing related international laws and developingstrategies for helping its enforcement in the country.
The media wasurged to seek out women, give those impacted by conflict a face by seeking themout speaking to them in ways they can understand to be able to bring their storiesand plight to the public domain.
One of theresource persons on Media, Toun Sonaiyi challenged the journalists todistinguish themselves by digging into women issues. “Media has no gender. Youdecide what you want to do. Distinguish yourself and do research on women. Youwill be sought after”.
To womenjournalists, she advised, “Get a good story. You earn your position by hardwork”.
UNSCR 1325 inpursuant of elimination of abuses against women and girls especially in timesof armed conflict, addresses the protection of rights and position of women inpolitical and decision making as well as the prosecution of violators,inclusion of women in peace-building aswell as rehabilitation.