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#EndSARS: Speak out, women, for peace and security

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{FILES] A protester holds up a scarf with the same colours as the Nigerian national flag during a live concert at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos, on October 15, 2020, during a demonstration to protest against police brutality and scrapping of Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). (Photo by Pierre FAVENNEC / AFP)

Sir: Nigerian women have not spoken loud enough against the attacks on the #EndSARS protesters (a peaceful protest which is now being criminalised), or about related atrocities currently going on in Nigeria.

Clearly, our government has failed our young generation. What hopes do young people have in a country which sees youths as threats rather than opportunities for development? Their opinions don’t count when it comes to nation-building but when it comes to elections, they become relevant for adding up the numbers and for thuggery. 

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Apart from the women and women groups (Heroes) who actively participated in the #EndSARS protests, women generally have not spoken loud enough to condemn the attacks on the protesters. Where are our women leaders? The women we elected into office and those appointed? Your voices are not loud enough o.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 which recognises the importance of women’s active involvement in all peace and security discourse. As a signatory, Nigeria has developed two National Action Plans on this Resolution. In fact, several State Action Plans exist, in addition to six Zonal Action Plans. Yet I don’t see much happening to bring the women, peace, and security agenda to life at this time. “Rhetorics must be matched with action.”
 
May we use this opportunity to interrogate as well as evaluate the National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security as Nigeria prepares to produce the third edition of the document (since the current one expires this year).

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The questions of how to bring the NAP to life must be asked. While there have been some gains, today’s realities give ample opportunities to evaluate to what extent this document has been effective. New partners need to be brought on board to make the NAP a living document. Young people need to lead the process too, in addition to the media, celebrities, and others in the private sector. It needs to be more inclusive, to say the least. As it currently stands, the NAP leans heavily on a partnership with government agencies. We can see all too clearly now that government alone cannot give us the change we need to see.
 
Nearly a month has passed since women were called to arise. I dare ask, “Wherefore art thou o woman?”  May we not disappoint our youth. May we not forget our history: Nigerian women across all generations and ethnicities have been known to play active parts in fostering peace and resolving conflicts. 
 
Our case shall not be different. Let our voice be heard (be it spoken, written, or by any other means of communicating displeasure). It matters so much today.

Nneka Acholonu Egbuna.

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