From where I stand: “If I am on the receiving end of violence, should I not be included in the discussions to end it?”
Hajiya Amina Ahmed is a peacebuilder from Nigeria who works across religious and ethnic lines to empower women and build peaceful communities. During a recent visit to a rural community, she, along with other women peacebuilders, convinced the community leader to appoint women in the traditional councils.
Women are typically the most-affected in conflict situations, but are excluded from decision-making processes concerning peace and security. Why is it so? If I am on the receiving end of violence, should I not be included in the discussions to end it? Women are leaders; we are peacemakers. When women are educated and enlightened, we have the potential to become models in our community.
I have been working in peace and conflict transformation since the 2001 ethno-religious crisis in Jos (Plateau State). My work involves countering violence against women and girls and promoting their involvement in development processes. This is something I am passionate about. I want us to move away from treating women as second-class citizens. I want to reach a point where the prejudices against women are reduced to the barest minimum, if not completely wiped off.
Many areas in Plateau State are still polarized and divided along ethnic and religious lines. Tensions in some communities are high. Recently, I led a team of Women Peace Mentors to Jenta Adamu, a predominantly Christian community for a meeting on women’s engagement in peace processes. Since I am a Muslim, the community gatekeepers felt that I should not be the one leading the delegation. Using the skills that we had learned during our training with UN Women, we were able to shift their focus from what divides to what unites us.
We were granted entry into the community and met with the leader. He was receptive to our suggestions of including women in their traditional and community institutions. He committed to appointing two women into his Traditional Council.”
Hajiya Amina Ahmed, 44, is the Executive Director of the Women Initiative for Sustainable Community Development in Plateau State, Nigeria. She is one of the 121 Women Peace Mentors trained by UN Women as part of the European Union-funded “Northern Nigeria Women, Peace and Security Programme”, which aims to strengthen women’s leadership and engagement in peacebuilding efforts. Since the meeting with the women mentors, the leader of the Jenta Adamu community has appointed two women into his Traditional Council. Hajiya Amina Ahmed’s work contributes to SDG 16, which promotes peaceful and inclusive societies, and SDG 5 on gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls.
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