Monday 19 November 2018


A two-day workshop was held between the 14th and 15th of November 2018 to dissect 'The gender dimensions of social conflict, armed violence peace-building (PB)' in Nigeria. There was comparison of best practices in Nigeria and Indonesia. Nigeria's collaborative lessons were drawn from three states: Delta, Enugu and Plateau states. There were panel discussion(s) on 'Gender, Conflict & Peace-Building'; 'Best Practices & Differences: Indonesia & Nigeria'; Research Results: Gendered Mechanisms of Conflict Management', etc.

The meeting was convened by Women's International League for Peace & Freedom (WILPF) Nigeria and Women's Right to Education Programme (WREP). The project partners are:

*Centre for Conflict, Development & Peace-Building (CCDP), Graduate Institute of International & Development Studies, Switzerland
*Geneva Peace-Building Platform, Switzerland
*WILPF. Switzerland
*UN Women

This research dissemination workshop is part of a larger project, the R4D Project on Gender, Conflict & Peace-Building supported by:

*Swiss National Science Foundation
*Swiss Agency for Development & Cooperation
*R4D Prgrammes

Some of the research findings are as follows:

*Women in conflict zones are not homogeneous. Not all women are 'peacemakers'. Some actually fuel conflict while others are 'conflict merchants'.
*The 'Reflective Peace Practice' (RPP) Model is more useful in the field in Nigeria than the Early Warning & Early Response (EWER) Model.
*Trauma healing as part of the peace process needs to be stepped up. Trauma could impact mental health in victims. Specialists (psychotherapists, psychologists, psychoanalysts, nurses, medical doctors, social workers, etc) need to be deployed to conflict zones during the peace-building process. Besides, trauma could make a woman who is a peace-builder become a conflict merchant!
*Cultural systems, including traditional methods of conflict transformation, should be re-visited for effective social cohesion. Local 'institutions' like the 'Umuada' in Eastern Nigeria that could aid peace-building need to be encouraged.
*Practitioners should keep an eye on the sustainability index of peace interventions.

            Photo L-R: Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa & Mrs. Yemisi George @ the workshop 

The Nigerian researchers are:

Enugu: Dr. Vincent Onodugo  & Elizabeth Jeiyol
Delta: Bridget Osakwe &Mariam Kadiri
Plateau State (Jos): Mabel Ade & Amina Ahmed

Dr. Wening Udasmoro and Arifah Rahmawati then presented 'Grand Narratives on PB from Indonesia'. There were so many similarities between the Nigeria and Indonesia. The role of 'senior men' in the PB process is acknowledged in both countries. Youths dominate the narration on violence, but they could also be peace-builders. 'Masculinities' emanate not only from men. Females could also display such masculinities. In both countries there are child soldiers, Mediation is the most common Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) method used to resolve conflicts and music is deployed for peace. There is conflict in East Java (Indonesia) over natural resources similar to the situation in the Niger Delta (Nigeria). It is possible to build the capacity of citizens while undergoing research in both countries.

Elisabeth Prugl (Professor of International Relations, Graduate Institute, Geneva & Director Gender Centre) presented an illuminating paper titled: 'The feminist constructivist approach to the study of violent conflicts'. She quoted Simon de Beauvoir who said: 'We are not born women, we become women'. Gender is a societal construct. Masculinity is a continuum. Even females could be on the masculinity scale. We seem to be fixated on 'toxic masculinity'. Masculinity is mobile, not static. We need new patterns of explanation, for example: I (Input) ~ M (Mechanism) ~ O (Output). That is, Inputs combined with adequate Mechanisms lead to positive Outcomes that could support peace processes.

Christelle Rigual (Post-doctoral Researcher, Graduate Institute, Geneva & Coordinator, Gender Centre) extended Prof. Prugl's postulation further in her presentation: 'The intersectionally gendered mechanisms in conflict dynamics'. She said gender operates as a productive force in conflict dynamics. Gender informs, shapes and constrains outcomes. According to Christelle, the mechanisms employed are:

*Symbolism - Men represented as strong protectors, while women are seen as weak.
*Masculine authority - 'Intersectional component of age and strength'
*Institutions - These are also social constructs.
*Performance of gender - e.g. Skill sets of men

Then came the group discussion. There were six groups:

1) Art/Literature/Sport/Music
2) Vigilantes/Neighbourhood Watch
3) Traditional Institutions
4) Religion & Spirituality
5) Media
6) Trauma healing

The main take-aways were that:

*Art, literature, sport and music are veritable avenues for engendering peace if strategically deployed.
*Neighbourhood Watch could have a more positive influence as regards peace than Vigilantes. The latter group is often corrupted by politically exposed persons who sometimes nudge them to do their bidding.
*Traditional institutions (Emirs, Obas, Obis, Chiefs, etc) are germane to peace processes.
*Religious leaders wield influence especially for terrorism and similar ideological warfare. They need to strike positive cords towards peace in their sermons.
*I presented the position for this group, where I said media practitioners need intensive training in conflict reporting so that they contribute to peace rather than conflict. The ownership of particular media houses could colour their presentation of 'facts' in this 'post truth' era. This could engender bad blood in the stakeholders in the conflict who feel 'shortchanged' by the report.
*Trauma healing needs to be given more attention.

On the whole, it was indeed an honour to meet the duo of Prof. Elisabeth Prugl and Dr. Christelle Rigual live in Abuja. Their presentation of their on-going research was well received and it was agreed at the meeting that their perspectives on 'Intersectionally gendered mechanisms in conflict dynamics' be factored into future similar research in Nigeria and Indonesia. Kudos to the duo of Dr. (Iyom) Joy Onyesoh (First black President of WILPF) and Mimidoo Achakpa (Executive Director,  WREP) for excellent coordination of the meeting. Though Joy was not physically present, due to unforeseen circumstances, her managerial skills during the planning made the workshop a huge success. Bravo!

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E. Prügl said...

Thank you so much for this generous summary Dr. D! Just one little correction: Dr. Onyesoh and Ms. Achakpa not only coordinated this workshop, but more importantly are co-applicants for this project and coordinate the research endeavour in Nigeria. It was a pleasure to meet you at the workshop and benefit from your spirited interventions.

Unknown said...

It was a pleasure to meeting you and all the participants of this workshop. Thank you very much for this summary of the event, we are glad to receive positive feedback on our research and privileged to have had this opportunity to exchange in-depth with you all on key dimensions of the project's findings. We leave inspired and energized by the lively and courageous contributions from all participants.