A visit to any of the camps for the internally displaced persons (IDPs) shows that most of the people there are women and children. This is an indication that these are the people who bear the brunt of these violence. These are the survivors of the violence, there is no record of those that could not survive the trauma of rapes and maiming that was inflicted on them. Only their family members have memories of them.

Photo of HANNATU B. MUSA, First Female Director of Information & Films Services, Ministry of Information, Kaduna
Former  National President of Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ).

It is instructive that women and children are often seen as soft targets by the attackers and are not spared the machetes and gun shots. Granted that there are a few violent-prone women who will go with the men to attack and engage in reprisals, but these are a very low proportion of the womenfolk who only want some peace to look after their families and tend their small plots of farm. When the hate speeches are being bandied about, women are warned to shut up. Women are not allowed to speak anything contrary to what the men decide, and yet these women end up burying the dead, nursing the injured and taking up a new additional responsibility of household heads.

It is time that this continuing inequity is addressed. It is time that women’s voices should be heard in the buildup to any crises, during the crises and during its resolution. The absence of women’s voices deprives humanity of at least 50% of the insight and wisdom that can be brought into any situation. Yet it is these women’s inner strengths, courage, fortitude, wisdom that is relied upon by the society in order to restore harmony and rebuild trust.

Often times, women across religious and ethnic divides retain their friendships even in the face of hostilities. In Southern Kaduna, decades of intermarriages has produced new generations that are of mixed heritage. This level of kinship is recognized and respected mostly among the women folks. They therefore are strategic stakeholders for peace in their communities.

This is the reason why the recent efforts of Fantsuam Foundation to establish the SOUTHERN KADUNA WOMEN PEACE NETWORK, SKWPN, is both timely and strategic. This must be the first time such a network is being established in our region. It is a recognition of the missed opportunities that has excluded women from the peace building processes that is needed in these times. It behoves all lovers of peace to give their support to nurture and grow this network. With women actively engaged across all the artificial divides of religion and ethnicity, Southern Kaduna stands a chance of rising from the present ashes into a dynamic and equitable society where women’s voices are recognized, respected and their wisdom engaged to find lasting peace in our communities.

The SKWPN is therefore a timely intervention to empower WOMEN and deploy their wisdom, commitment, foresight to break the cycle of violence in Southern Kaduna.

HANNATU B. MUSA was the First Female Director of Information & Films Services, Ministry of Information, Kaduna

Former  National President of Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ). She can be reach with this number  0803 451 8343.

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