Further to the national launch of the Nigeria Women Mediators Collaborative Initiative (NWMCI), WILPF Nigeria in carrying out one of its first agenda of the network which is the training of women mediators, organized a 3 days Gendered Mediators Training with partnership from Better Peace Initiative [BPI] ICAN and support from NORAD Nigeria. The training started from the 7th to 9th of October 2019 at Grand ibru hotel annex in Abuja, Nigeria.
The gendered mediation training brought together 17 initiative members from the six zones (North Central, North East, North West, South East, South South and South West) as well as two international participants from Sierra Leone and Kenya. ICAN’s Better Peace Initiative Program Director, Helena Gronberg and Innovative Peace Fund Program Director, France Bognon conducted the training, joined for the last session by ICAN’s ED Sanam Naraghi Anderlini. Hamsatu Allamin, founder of Allamin Foundation for Peace and Development, and member of the ICAN spearheaded Women’s Alliance for Security Leadership (WASL) joined the group for the first day to share her perspectives and experiences from Borno state.
The overall objective of the training is to enhance women mediators skills in analyzing, preventing and transforming conflicts at different levels and also substantively participating in other peace building processes.
The welcome address was done by Hajia Lantana Abdullahi. She spoke about the launch of the network noting its success and enumerated the way forward for the network. She noted that the network has a current membership of about 100 women with a target to reach 3000 by next year. This was followed by an introduction from Helena Gronberg, a program Director of Better Peace Initiative ICAN and France Bognon who’s also a Program Director with Better Peace Initiative ICAN who are the training facilitators. After the participants had introduced themselves and pinpointed what they hoped to achieve by the end of the training, the facilitators gave a background of ICAN highlighting the organizations work, achievements and tools developed to achieve its aim and impart on the skills of the participants. They emphasized on the historic contextual framework of gender responsiveness and inclusive mediation with keen emphasis on understanding how conflicts escalate to wars, intense effects on women and why women are sidelined in these processes, understanding peace diplomacy and policy, how women’s inclusivity in mediating especially in extreme conflict situations can be achieved and why its essential, identifying the origins and root causes of conflict which in turn leads to violence which women tend to suffer from the most and analyzing the many factors which influence conflict dynamics such as poverty, religious beliefs, inadequacy to provide by breadwinners who have suffered certain forms of trauma.
The participants conducted an exercise and the purpose of this was to identify the dynamic conflict issues within their regions, the root causes for these armed conflicts, the actors who perpetuate them, the impact level of these conflicts, peace actions taken by mediating entities therein and the work done. The participants were also addressed by Tuva Horsle Bugge, a senior adviser with NORAD and a coordinator for the women peace and security portfolio. She spoke on her organizations activities and partnerships with Civil Society Organizations on promoting the women peace and security agenda.
The participants were familiarized with the key terms used in mediation, their definitions and the contexts within which they are used, the process and design of mediation while identifying the challenges and also on how to getting dissenting parties to accept a woman’s perspective in mediating on their issues and secondly building trust to enable the parties come to the table, grasping the skills and creativity to identify possible entry points of gender inclusive mediation which also borders on trust and non-judgmental approaches.
The second day commenced with participants sharing lessons they learnt from the previous day, aspects of the training that stood out and impacted them, to display their grasp of the terminologies used in mediation that were analyzed and to show how it helps to note entry points when seeking to mediate in conflict situations.
The session then delved into the days agenda analyzing the barriers to inclusivity which include domination of power structures by mostly men, difficulty in identifying women who are competent to do the job as women in such communities tend to lack confidence, societal stigmas amongst other issues. Emphasis was laid on the narrative that women should be included in accordance with resolutions such as UNSCR 1325, it was pointed out that women’s inclusion begets a high sustainability rate of peace processes; show the relevance of women as they are indicators of impending conflict because they are first targeted at the inception of crisis situations.
The third and final day was a culmination of video sessions to clearly explain crucial concepts such as community policing in order to help the police within communities especially those prone to conflict, carry out their duties effectively in a manner that is inclusive of the citizens of the community. The importance of women within these agencies such as the police was shown especially in terms of the responsiveness of the community members to women.
At the end of the training, the participants were handed certificate certifying them as mediators. The participants expressed their lessons learnt and how these would greatly enhance their toolkits as practitioners of mediation within their localities and states. They also expressed a heightened awareness of meditative tactics/skills, an understanding of the need to find clear caught entry points within conflict areas and how to implement the provisions of the Better Peace Tool to gain optimum results.