This study was concerned with investigating women participation in peace building in Nigeria. The study was carried out in Nigeria. The study objectives were; To examine the participation of women in peace building in Nigeria; To analyze the factors that affect women participation in peace building in Nigeria; To examine the role played by women in peace building in Nigeria. This study used an exploratory research design. Sampling of the respondents was done using snowball sampling technique. Qualitative data was collected using an interview guide through in-depth interviews with women participants in peace building in The South South. Qualitative data from key informant interviews and in-depth interview was analyzed thematically through content analysis. From the findings, it was established the women were instrumental in bringing long-lasting peace based on the extent of involvement in peace building. In addition, the involvement of all stakeholders was instrumental in peace building or conflict resolution. Strategies used by women in dealing with peace-building exercise include; discarding cultural practices hindering women to participate in peace building challenges were; intercommunity networking and social cohesion. The peace-building exercise was voluntary based and thus the women were committed to search for long lasting peace in the region. The role that women played as a peace builder include; through preaching peace and guidance and counseling. The study recommends that the government should conduct regular training on peace building, and conflict management to equip women with up to date knowledge and skills. This will make them effective in peace building, and conflict management.

One of the most important issues in conflict resolution and peace building process in Nigeria has been that of the exclusion of women from the process. The involvement of women in decision making, conflict management and post conflict process of where peace building features, is limited in the Niger Delta as well as in other communities in Nigeria. This could be explained from the socio-cultural impediments and misconceptions placed on the female gender that induced their relegation to the background. The contributions of women in any of the above mentioned areas are mere suggestions and most often jettisoned at critical decision times. The relegation of women to the background in national affairs even in matters that affect them directly like peace and security originate from the home or the private domain into the general society (Sheila 1999, Shertima, 2001). However, women have been able to force their way through protest and dialogue though, to a very little extent in tackling issues and matters that affect them especially in Nigeria. It is a common knowledge that in conflict and war situations, women and children are the most vulnerable, even though they were neither consulted nor partook in the disagreement that snowballed into conflict. Nevertheless, they are forced to bear the loss of spouses, children and care for the wounded, displaced, raped and lived with the psychological trauma for life. However, when it is time for conflict resolution and peace building process, unfortunately only the men are involved as members of delegations to negotiate peace. (Oppong and Oppong 1987, Scott 1996) Irrespective of their relegation, the women folks have tried in various ways in averting, checking and halting otherwise threatening situations to peace and security in the history of Nigeria in general and the Nigeria in particular. There were women like: Madam Tinubu of Lagos, Queen Amina of Zaria, Margaret Ekpo of Calabar/Abia, Fumnilayo Kuti, to mention a few. These women held sway, amidst exercising political powers and employing diplomacy, a prominent tool in achieving peace in their respective societies. In the African scene, the peace building process, women form organizations to achieve their goal in that direction. Mano River Women’s Peace Network MRWPN, Liberian Women’s Initiative (LWI) Association of Female Lawyers in Liberia (AFLL) Sierra Leone Women’s Movement for Peace (SLWMP) among others (Oluyemi – Kusa 2004). In the present time, as a result of the women not being part of formal decision making, women have to rely on alternative mechanisms to voice out their demands. Thus, in spite of the exclusion of the women, they have been influential in peace processes as was the case in the oil-rich Niger Delta where major Multinational oil companies like Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Texaco, Elf Petroleum Nigeria, Agip, etc, explore oil. According to Ransom et al (2001), women are not usually inclined towards violence; they get involved in a purposeful fashion, to either protect themselves or their children. Their aggression also is often not out of control, unlike men who seem to be innately violent. In a corroborative manner, Oluyemi – Kusa asserts thus: Men tend to go into negotiations expecting one side to win and another to loose whereas -women look for points of commonality and less afraid to compromise… This admirable trait of talk to finish rather than fight-to finish distinguishes the female gender. Against this background, the paper examines the strategies adopted by women in conflict resolution and peace building and the socio-cultural obstacles that impede their active participation in the resolution of conflict and peace building process in Nigeria.

1.2 Statement of the Problem
In ideal situations of peace building, both men and women are expected to be at the forefront of the peace and security forums and packs. However to expectations women are rarely involved and incase of their involvement they are not seen coming out clearly but only included in the peripheral roles. This is happening despite the passage of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women Peace and Security a decade ago. So far not enough progress has been made to increase women’s participation in conflict prevention, peace processes and post-conflict recovery. Women signatories to peace agreements account for less than 2.4% in 21 peace processes reviewed since 1992, and the United Nations has yet to appoint a woman as a lead mediator (UNIFEM, 2009).

Throughout the world women’s role in violent conflict and war has been seen as marginal in terms of ensuring that human security is upheld. Accounts of war through news reporting, government propaganda, novels, the cinema and other mediums tend to cast men as the peace builders and women as passive, innocent victims. In Africa, wars have been portrayed in almost the same way but the stories of the courage of men as fighters have tended to eclipse the active role women have played as peace builders during the war (UNIFEM 2009).

In Nigerian context, though the entire Nigerian Process of resolving the Post Election Violence has been hailed as an example of good practice due to the high level and high profile of women involved in the Nigeria National Dialogue and Reconciliation process, it does not tell the full story of both the successes and the challenges of addressing gender issues in the mediation process (Meredith and Njoki, 2011). The South South District in Nigeria’s Rift Valley is known for all the wrong reasons: it is a conflict zone where cattle rustling and raids are carried out on almost a weekly basis. It is located about 350 kms from Nairobi and is home to Rivers, Delta, Meru, Kikuyu and Somali communities with the former two communities competing for scarce water and pasture resources for their livestock. The Rivers and Delta are pastoralists with sometimes large herds of goats, cattle and camels. The recent conflicts in The South South saw more than 42 police officers left dead Unequal distribution of resources by the state could have contributed to the perennial raids between the two communities. The Delta and Rivers fight for political supremacy as well as the resources.

There is a need to unpack the more generalized focus on women’s participation in such a formal process. There is a need to understand the structural and political dynamics that impact on how women participate in the processes of peace building in Nigeria. There is a dire need to know what this means for women’s participation in, and for addressing women’s and gender issues in, the substance of peace talks.

1.3 Research Questions
1. Do women participate in peace building in Nigeria?

2. What are the factors that affect participation of women in peace building in Nigeria?

3. Which are the roles played by women in peace building in Nigeria?

1.4 Research Objectives
General objective
To explore women’s participation in peace building, and conflict management in Nigeria.

Specific objectives
1. To examine the participation of women in peace building in Nigeria.

2. To analyze the factors that affect women participation in peace building in Nigeria.

3. To examine the role played by women in peace building in Nigeria.

1.5 Justification of the study
This study sought to explore the role women play in conflict resolutions and with aim in making suggestions to the relevant authorities to tap the hidden talents of women in peace building and where possible involve them during peace talks to incorporate their views. The findings of this study inform future peace building and reconciliation initiatives in the region. The study findings also inform the policy makers on the approaches to take in ensuring coexistence of different communities in Nigeria. This study findings if adopted will inform the policy makers on how to strengthen the women’s grassroots peace-building informal organizations in terms of giving them financial support to meet their operational needs so as to work hand in hand with the provincial administration. It is of value to anthropologists, gender and other scholars who are interested in the issues of conflict resolution and may be interested in advancing it further as well contributing to academic knowledge.

1.6 Scope and limitations of the study
This study covered Niger Delta in which the sample population was women from both Rivers and Delta states. The study sought to explore women participation and the role they play in solving intercommunity conflicts between the Delta and the Rivers. Due to the sensitive nature of the information sought by the study it was difficult to select a large sample. This may limit perceived representativeness of the study. However, I tried as much as possible through proper explanation on the purpose of the study to overcome this, through collecting indepth interviews to collect information. This was an impediment on the generalization of the findings on the entire population of Delta County. However, I tried to get as much information as possible to fill the gap.

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