“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” Mother Teresa
The 2012 UNIFEM report entitled “Women, War and Peace” observed that the quality and implementation of peace agreements were drastically improved when women were involved. A recent post on the Global Peace Foundation offers some explanation of what women bring to the table when they engage in peacebuilding. The post is based on remarks of the wife of Vice-President of Nigeria and founder of I-CARE Women & Youths Initiative, and more recently patron of the newest chapter of Global Peace Women in Nigeria, H.E. Hajiya Amina Namadi Sambo, at the women’s session of the Global Peace Convention 2013.
First, says H.E. Hajiya Sambo, women possess “God-given qualities that facilitate peace building and conflict resolution.” She describes women as innately empathetic, and lend a helping hand to others. For example, a mother will “rise above self-interest,” to place the interests her family before her own. According to H.E. Hajiya Sambo, women are also honest, forthright, patient, and compassionate. These characteristics make women effective facilitators and collaborators. H.E. Hajiya Sambo strongly suggests that women be allowed to apply these unique qualities in multiple venues such as public office, community service, and family.
While she challenges traditional views of women by strongly advocating for women in public roles, H.E. Hajiya Sambo also affirms women’s “God-given role to be mothers”. She calls the family “the basic tool for peace” and places women at the center. She describes how mothers secure peace at home and educate the next generation with the values of peace. To this end, she encourages women to seek for peace in themselves as they advocate peace to their husbands, fathers, brothers and sons. As the heart of the family, women are key players both in fostering the culture of peace and implementing peace policies. It has been proven that through grass-roots networks of women and families, policies can be widely and effectively implemented with little resources. Thus, the second reason why women are important in peacebuilding is because they are crucial players in the family.
“The importance of women in building sustainable peace in the world can no longer be overlooked”, says H.E. Hajiya Sambo. Women’s role in the family and their unique God-given abilities open the way for humanity to reconnect and remember that “we belong to each other.”
Through ICare Women and Youth, initiated after seeing firsthand the situation of women in Nigeria during a visit to all 23 local governments, H.E. Hajiya Sambo has worked to tackle poverty and inequality of women by increasing women’s participation in decision making in the family and larger society. ICare offers skills training to help women strengthen the economic foundation of their families, as well as education on issues such as malaria, AIDS and basic health and sanitation.