The Institute of Governance and Social Research (IGSR), Jos successfully organized a Peace Education event themed “Promoting the voices of women and youth in preventing violent extremism”. The event was organized for Women and Youth in the Central Senatorial Zone of Plateau State (Kanam, Kanke, Pankshin, Mangu and Bokkos LGAs) under the project titled “The Youth and Peaceful Coexistence in Community: The Plateau Case” Round II sponsored by Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (GCERF). The event, which was the second organized in the second round of the project, was designed to empower and promote the voices of Women and Youth towards the prevention of violent extremism and radicalization in their communities. Furthermore, it is meant to encourage women and youth to seek increased involvement in decision-making processes in their communities.
The Peace Education event held from the 26th to 30th of April, 2021 in Kanam, Kanke, Pankshin, Mangu and Bokkos Local Government Areas respectively and had in attendance traditional rulers, representatives from the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI), Security Agencies (Police, NSCDC and DSS), Vigilante Group of Nigeria (VGN), representatives from International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) and Representatives of IGSR Community Dialogue Framework Committee. The event took place in the following locations:
Kanam LGA (26th April, 2021): Government Model Secondary School Dengi, Kanam LGA
Kanke LGA (27th April, 2021): NURTW Motor Park Kabwir, Kanke LGA
Pankshin LGA (28th April, 2021): Nefur Arena, Pankshin LGA
Mangu LGA (29th April, 2021): MYM Secretariat, Gindiri Road, Mangu LGA
Bokkos LGA (30th April, 2021): COCIN Takaweh premises, Bokkos LGA
The locations were strategically selected (open-air) to ensure passers-by had the opportunity to get messages being discussed. This was done in order to comply with the Government’s ban on processions while also adhering to COVID-19 health advisories. In each LGA, there were 75 direct beneficiaries (women and youth), as well as other indirect beneficiaries who were around the venues of the event.
During the event, there were lectures by resource persons from relevant institutions such as Security Agencies, Academia, and Professional bodies. Topics such as “Roles of Women and Youth in Preventing Radicalization by Violent Extremists” and “Women and Youth as Agents of Change: Recognising their Role in the Prevention of Violence” were discussed. Resource persons emphasized collective action against violence and crime in communities as well as acceptance across ethnic, religious and ideological divides in order to strengthen tolerance and inclusivity among community members. Participants of the program were encouraged to work as change agents as against being involved in violent conflicts, as this was the only way they could be actively involved in decision-making processes in their communities.
Women were particularly encouraged to influence their children and husbands positively through their actions and utterances. The Youth on the other hand, were urged to channel their strength towards productive ventures as well as engage their religious, traditional and political leaders peacefully. Participants were given the opportunity to ask questions and make contributions to the causes of violent extremism in their communities, as well as proffer solutions to identified problems.
Community stakeholders such as the Traditional rulers and representatives of the Local Government Council, expressed delight with the program, saying it was timely and necessary. The Supervisory Councillor of the Department of Social Services in Pankshin LGA commended participants for engaging in meaningful discussions on their role as women and youth in preventing violence in the community. He promised to ensure community members have a smooth communication channel with security agencies in reporting abnormalities. In Kanke LGA, the District Head of Kabwir promised he would ensure friendly sports competition is played among the different youth groups in the community to promote peaceful coexistence and tolerance among themselves.
At the end of the program, the Women and Youth expressed their appreciation to IGSR and GCERF for organizing such an impactful program as they learned the important roles they have to play in preventing violence. They promised to engage and enlighten others in their communities on their roles in preventing violent extremism.
During the event across the 5 LGAs, 450 Shirts and 450 Caps, 800 Posters, and 900 Stickers all bearing messages geared towards prevention of violence and promotion of peaceful co-existence were distributed to participants. In his remarks, IGSR’s Senior Program Officer said the IEC materials distributed were meant to aid participants in carrying out their roles as change agents, having been enlightened by the Peace Education event. He urged the women and youth to step down what they had learned to other community members in order to achieve peaceful communities and the state at large.