General News of Sunday, 15 March 2015
The West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP) has lauded Ghana for continuing to be a beacon of hope and inspiration in West Africa, as a country that is stable, democratic and highly tolerant.
Mr Chukwuemeka B. Eze, the Executive Director (ED) of WANEP, said this feat cannot and should never be taken for granted.
He said WANEP was concerned about the current spate of ethnocentric politics gradually creeping into the polity, as well as the seeming religious intolerance in schools.
“While we do not discountenance the court as a dispute resolution mechanism, such valued-based issues are better resolved through dialogue and frank discussions.
“We must use this opportunity to urge the women to rise up to the occasion and safeguard this exemplified democracy and peace in our region,” Mr Eze stated on Friday in Accra at a roundtable discussion on the Role of Women in Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) in commemoration of this year’s international women’s Day (IWD).
‘Make it Happen’ is the 2015 theme for the IWD; seeking to encourage effective action for advancing and recognizing the efforts, struggles and contributions of women to nation building. Each year, IWD is observed on March 8. The first IWD was held in 1911.
The ED said WANEP was focusing this year’s celebration on appreciating the contributions of women in CVE, from a preventive perspective, and to strengthen discussions on how to best improve upon what they have been doing.
He explained that this had become necessary, especially, that the threat and menace of violent extremism continue to cut short the lives and future of girls and women, with some of them now being lured into the extremist groups as suicide bombers, strategists, cooks, sex slaves, among other atrocities.
Mr. Eze said the role of gender in violent extremism and CVE had been, in his opinion, the missing link in the chain of the multi-stakeholders mantra that the entire international community continues to sing.
“As a result, CVE practice has not sufficiently taken into cognizance the three key inter-dependent variables that influence our actions and results namely; gender dynamics in violent extremism, women’s role in CVE initiatives and how both violent extremism and CVE differently impact women and girls versus men and boys,” the ED said.
“The pull and push factors that decoy people to violent extremism has yet presented a new dimension other than the so-called poverty mostly witnessed in Africa and other developing countries.”
He said with the level of young, educated, rich background and elitist Western girls herding and itching to join ISIS, it had become obvious that no nation or region is immune to or spared from this ugly scourge and perhaps this might just be a wake-up call for collective and inclusive action.
“As more intricate interpretation of young girls and women who join ISIS, Boko Haram and other insurgents continue to endure, women who bear the brunt of all these cannot be on the fence or simply pray and hope that God will ‘forbid’,” Mr Eze said.
He said: “Violent extremism cannot be overcome through hardcore security alone; in fact, it could, in the long run, be counterproductive; preventive strategies such as peace education, interfaith programs, inclusive policies all rooted in a democratic and good governance space, would have more impact and be better sustained.”
“Women sure have a role to play and time is of essence,” he added.
Mr Alimou Diallo, WANEP Regional Coordinator, in his presentation observed that the drivers of violent extremism were poverty, unresolved grievances such as injustices and lack of access to political processes.
The Head of Women, Peace and Security Institute at the Kofi Annan International Peace Keeping Training Centre, Margaret Alexander Rehoboth said the media’s role was very fundamental in the prevention of violent extremism.