Increasing women's influence in governance and politics
In August, women leaders from 48 registered political parties gathered in Machakos for a conflict mediation workshop for women in political parties. Organized by ACORD and participating UN organization, with the support of the Joint Programme on Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment (JP GEWE), the workshop sought to enhance women's participation in political processes and to build women political leaders' mediating and peace building capacities.
The 5-day training covered a variety of key issues including: conflict analysis and early warning and response mechanisms; conflict mediation techniques and reconciliation; and the establishment of a social contract for peaceful existence based on ACORD's methodology of the Community Social Peace and Recovery Model. The training also highlighted the importance of UN Security Council Resolutions 1325 and 1820 in enhancing the role of women in peace building and reconciliation processes.
At the end of the workshop, the participants expressed a widespread satisfaction with the contents and issues covered by the training. 58% of participants reported that the training fully met their expectations. One of the participants stated that, "It will be very helpful in building peace if more women are trained on the same." Furthermore, it was also acknowledgedthat the training content could be disseminated further through civic education. While another participant stated that, "this is the knowledge that all Kenyans ought to have."
Photo credit : Paul Munene
Ruth Wangui Ngonya, Leader Representative of the Women's Bureau of the Social Democratic Party explains that the training of women leaders in conflict mediation was a timely activity due to the approaching elections in March 2013. "During the 1992 elections, my house was burned due to the conflict over land issue. In 2007, my whole family had to leave Nakuru because of electoral violence and they stayed with me in Nairobi. This continuous cycle of electoral violence has destroyed communities and integrity in Nakuru. People can still feel the tensions and fragility", says Ruth. She explains that the most important part of the training was the focus on early warning systems, "We have to learn from our past mistakes such as the failure to use the early warning mechanisms before the 2007 elections".
After the training, Ruth has taken several practical steps to promote peace within her community in Nakuru. She has set up a peace group in her church where people discuss issues such as conflict prevention and the importance of voting. She has also acted as a mediator in several disputes between neighbours who come from different tribes and trained other people to go to neighbouring villages to spread the message of peace building and conflict mediation.
"As a result of the skills I gained from the training, I have been able to change the mindset of people. Neighbours finally talk to each other and the fear is slowly disappearing," Ruth explains.
Read the Joint Programme on Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment JP GEWE 2012 report (our work mentioned page 33).