WOMEN FOR PEACE & UNITY GROWTH INITIATIVE-INAUGURAL LAUNCH
Theme: Restoring Value, Peace and behavioral Change For Posterity
KEYNOTE ADDRESS: Dr. Pearl Kupe, Global consultant & Social Dialogue expert
To our His Excellency Vice President Osinbajo, in his absence, our gracious Host, Madame Yemisi George and Founder of Women for Peace and Unity growth initiative, Madame Chair, Senator Grace Bent,our outstanding Director of Ceremonies, Madame Day Benjamin-Laniyi and all our esteemed guests of honor and participants, please allow me to say all protocol observed.
I am very grateful for the opportunity to address this august body of nation builders.
Having worked for a number of years with the ILO UN Agency,as a Social Dialogue Specialist responsible for promoting and facilitating dialogue and peace in the 14 member state SADC (Southern African Development Community) region, I am keenly aware of the need to promote peace globally as well as on our beautiful continent of Africa.
I would like to congratulate the organizers and hosts of this meeting and state that this is a most timeous and necessary meeting. I recently had the privilege, as one of the honorary executive committee members of the African Women Leaders Forum based in Belgium to chair and address a similar meeting held at the European Parliament. The keynote address was given by Madame Aisha Buhari , wife of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Madame Osinbajo, wife of the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was also in attendance.
It is clear that there is an urgent need to launch peace keeping initiatives.
One of the most glaring issues that stands out, is the absence of women and their involvement in peace keeping initiatives. In fact women are still being left out of key decision making positions globally. It is a well documented fact that women make up the majority of the population in any given nation. It is also well documented that women tend to be the primary caregivers and nurturers of families. Any nation that wants to do well, therefore, economically, politically and socially must of necessity take care of its women and also ensure that they are well represented in all sectors of society and at all levels.
On this note, I would like to congratulate Rwanda, which according to the latest 2018 global competitiveness index released by WEF (the World Economic Forum), is the second best performing nation in Africa. This index measures a countries performance economically, politically and socially. Rwanda also has the distinction of having the highest percentage of women in key decision making posts in the world, with a whopping 60% representation. It is clear then, that there is a direct co-relation to a nations prosperity and the number of women it has in decision-making positions.
I would also like to take the time to congratulate Ethiopia who has just recently appointed her first Woman President. We are looking forward to great things happening in Ethiopia.
Please allow me to make some preliminary remarks regarding women and peace keeping issues:
Women have traditionally been left out of peace keeping initiatives;
The impact of war and terrorism is always hardest on women and children;
The roles of women in so far as they relate to war, terrorism and counter terrorism have not been widely explored, so this is a timeous meeting
We need to shift from a REACTIVE approach to a PROACTIVE approach regarding wars, terrorism and violent extremism;
We need to consider developing a sustainable peace keeping strategy and plan of action that involve women;
We need to consider a comprehensive MULTI-STAKEHOLDER approach in dealing with peace keeping initiatives;
Lastly in dealing with peacekeeping initiatives, it is extremely important hat we give due consideration to the UN Global Counter terrorism Strategy effort and Resolution 1325 which deals specifically with the impact of armed conflict on women. This resolution addresses:
the important role that women play in addressing peace and security issues
the participation of women at all levels in decision making in conflict prevention processes, and
the involvement of women in war and terrorism. There are only two paths that women can take. WOMen can either play a role in preventing wars and terrorism or women can be recruited as part of terrorist or war activities.
Part of our role in discussing peace keeping initiatives must be to explore reasons as to why some women get involved in terrorist activities. Research indicates that women get involved for different reasons, some are financial. Others are religious, political or ideologically related. Some women are manipulated, coerced or blackmailed into getting involved.
The Opportunities women have to prevent wars and radicalization:
The opportunities presented to women to be involved in peace keeping, include:
Their traditional roles in society allow them to shape the ideologies of their children and to impact and influence their value system more;
Shaping family norms and to teach tolerance and promote non-violet civic engagement;
Becoming part of the policy discussions, as is happening here at this meeting;
Becoming a part of the peace process and joining various different forums and counter -terrorism bodies
Becoming a part of the national, regional, continental and global dialogue forums and negotiation processes
Ladies and gentlemen, these are just a few ideas that I wanted to present at this inaugural ceremony as food for though and consideration. I hope and pray that we will come out of this meeting with some serious recommendations regarding the way forward.
Thank you for your attention,
Dr. Pearl Kupe