Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution Project Topics

Examine the Role of Women in Peace Building in Borno State, Nigeria

Examine the Role of Women in Peace Building in Borno State, Nigeria

Examine the Role of Women in Peace Building in Borno State, Nigeria

Chapter One

Research Objectives

The aim of the study is to examine the role of women in peace building in Borno State, Nigeria. The specific objectives are to;

  1. Identify the roles of women in peacebuilding in Borno State
  2. investigate the factors affecting women in peacebuilding role in Borno State
  3. evaluate the extent to which women significantly influence peacebuilding roles in Borno State




Men and women living in northern Nigeria are stakeholders in conflict resolution processes. Both are affected by violent conflict though in varying degrees, and both have key roles to play in its prevention, management, and resolution. The field of conflict resolution is gradually shifting towards a gender sensitivity approach. This includes planning, implementation, analysis, and intervention (McCann & Cohn, 2013). In fact, women across the globe have made considerable progress in advancing their cause to be included in the peacebuilding discourse. They have been able to rise from obscurity in their respective countries. Throughout the years, key individuals and schools of thought have emerged and provided strategies for overcoming the challenges of including more women in peace processes.

Though women have been engaged in peace and conflict resolution within northern Nigeria for many years, professionals and academic researchers have not explored their experiences from a gender, political, and social context. The documentation of their efforts is limited to donor agencies that are funding the peace building activities. In view of this challenge, the search for related literature was expanded to include documented experiences of women in peace building in other African countries and beyond. This is in addition to introductory piece on peace building, Nigerian historical background, women in Nigeria, and the status of women in northern Nigeria to give background to the context and population studied.

The United Nations Resolution UNSCR1325

Prior to the landmark UNSCR 1325, there were international instruments calling for the robust inclusion of women in peace processes. This includes the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action adopted by 189 UN member States including Nigeria, at the famous UN Fourth World Conference on Women that took place in Beijing in 1995. Women and armed conflict were identified as part of the core areas of concern that governments, international, and regional institutions outlined. The strategic objective stipulated, “Increase the participation of women in conflict resolution at decision-making levels and protect women living in situations of armed and other conflicts or under foreign occupation” (United Nations, 1995. p.91).

Decades after the meeting, the declaration is still inspiring efforts at dismantling obstacles against women’s empowerment around the globe. The need to involve women in peace building is demonstrated by the landmark United Nations Resolution UNSCR1325, which was further strengthened by resolutions UNSCR1820 and UNSCR1889. Resolution UNSCR1325 calls for an increase in women’s involvement in peace processes and the need to target female affiliates of male combatants during disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration efforts in post conflict societies (UN, 2000). Resolution UNSCR 1820 advocates for the recognition of a direct relationship between the widespread systematic use of sexual violence as an instrument of war and the need to punish perpetrators as a deterrent (UN, 2008).

Resolution UNSCR 1820 also recognizes rape as a war crime against humanity. Resolution UNSCR 1889 further advocates for the inclusion of women’s empowerment in the post-conflict reconstruction planning and activities (UN, 2009). Easy implementation of these resolutions will require dealing with contextual issues, which differ from one society to the other.

Peacebuilding Efforts

Peace building which became a topical issue among nations by 1990s, has been defined differently by different stakeholders. Peacebuilding was defined as actions for detecting and supporting structures that will reinforce peace in order to avoid a relapse into violence (Boutros-Ghali, 1993). It was also considered an external intervention planned to avert the outbreak or reoccurrence of armed conflict (Barnett, Kim, O’Donnell, & Sitea, 2007). These definitions were expanded to include the task of “providing for reintegration and rehabilitation programs, and creating conditions for resumed development” (Annan, 1998).

Another perspective is that “…peacebuilding is understood as a comprehensive concept that encompasses, generates, and sustains the full array of processes, approaches, and stages needed to transform conflict toward more sustainable, peaceful relationships” (Lederach, 1997, p.20).

Its theorizing and operationalization guide the choice of term or definition ascribed to peace building by different government and inter-governmental peace building agencies. This is based on their mandate, which informs their area of focus and strategies adopted (Barnett, Kim, O’Donnell, & Sitea, 2007). For instance, the United Nations Peace Building Fund (2007) policy committee defined peace building as:

A range of measures targeted to reduce the risk of lapsing or relapsing into conflict by strengthening national capacities at all levels for conflict management, and to lay the foundation for sustainable peace and development. Peacebuilding strategies must be coherent and tailored to the specific needs of the country concerned, based on national ownership, and should comprise a carefully prioritized, sequenced, and relatively narrow set of activities aimed at achieving the above objectives. According to Cohn (2013), peace process is deeply gendered and involves years of work done before and after the peace talks.

From the foregoing definitions, peace building is not just an activity, but a process that requires continuous engagement and covers all efforts that are aimed at dismantling structures of violence and erecting structures of peace. It encompasses proactive, preventive, management, and relationship building measures that go beyond peace talks. This includes violence prevention mechanisms such as early warning and early response as well as conflict mediation aimed at reducing tension before it escalates into violence.




Research Design

The purpose of this study was to investigate why the role of women in peacebuilding in Borno State, Nigeria. The survey research design design was employed in the study. Cross sectional data was adopted in achieving the survey research design

Study Area and Population

It has a land area of 72,609 km² and a population of 3.5 million in 2016 (Nigerian Population Commission). Borno, also known as Borno State, is a state in north-eastern Nigeria. Its capital and largest city is Maiduguri. The state was formed in 1976 from the split of the North-Eastern State. Until 1991 it contained what is now Yobe State. The motto or slogan of the state is “Home of Peace”. Borno is the homeland of the Kanuri people in Nigeria and several other ethnic groups. However, the study area purposively selected for this study is Maiduguri which has a population of 758,700.


A total of 400 questionnaires were administered to the respondents in Maiduguri in Borno State. 345 representing 88% were returned while 54 representing 12% were not returned. A total of 345 questionnaires were returned and analyzed.




The purpose of this phenomenological study was to understand the lived experiences of the role of women engaged in peace building and conflict management in Borno State Nigeria and the meaning that these experiences hold for them. The study specifically looked into Identifying the roles of women in peacebuilding in Borno State, investigate the factors affecting women in peacebuilding role in Borno State and evaluate the extent to which women significantly influence peacebuilding roles in Borno State

The survey research design was utilized in the study. Data were collected from 400 rerspondents in Maiduguri which is the state capital of Borno State.

Theme 3: Experience working with men. Realizing that they cannot address conflict within their communities on their own, the peacemakers made extra efforts to engage the men in their programs despite the fact that men and women sitting together to discuss is considered a taboo within the region. This required breaking the cultural barrier. The peacemakers found some creative ways of engaging men. While recruiting participants for their programs, they would request for both men and women. Beside aiming for gender balanced participation for their programs, another strategy adopted by ome of the peacemakers was to identify gender sensitive men and invite them to their programs. These are usually educated men that were receptive to working with women and willing to hear the women’s perspectives on various issues.

Despite their accomplishments at changing societal structure by working with women and girls and reaching out to men, the peacemakers remain committed to engaging more women in peace building. They demonstrated this by outlining some of the actions necessary for increasing the participation of women in peace building. Their articulations gave rise to the next theme. Feminist standpoint and structural violence theories were utilized to better understand the experiences of women leaders engaging in peace building in northern Nigeria. The two theories and the phenomenological research method utilized for the study complemented one another in providing insight into the lived experiences shared by the peacemakers and became even more relevant as the study progressed. The findings aligned with some of the core principles of both theories.

The participants in addition to identifying the obstacles inhibiting women’s participation in peace processes based on their experiences are also privy to how and what can be done to overcome them in the interest of peace for all. Some of them adopted strategies to address the ones they can while highlighting the ones that required the attention and input of other stakeholders. These suggested strategies if tackled will no doubt ensure the attainment of the transformative objective of standpoint theory.


The outcome of the study incorporated the experiences of the peacemakers and their thoughts on how to address the challenges they face in their peace building work. This has both professional and academic implications. For the academic part, the study has contributed to the existing literature on women in peace building and provided specific details of the experiences of female peacemakers within northern Nigeria. Participants indicated interest in receiving the outcome of the study which will be made available to them and as many as are interested. It will serve as a reference material or as a springboard for other related research as well as a step towards addressing the gap of documentation of women’s peace building efforts within the region. On the professional side, the outcome of the study has practical implications for stakeholders interested in peace within northern Nigeria. This study can be constituted as a conflict management program portfolio comprising of different projects. The study outlined the obstacles against inclusive peace building in northern Nigeria, the successes recorded by female peace builders in the face of these challenges, and their hopes and aspirations for sustainable peace within their region. In conclusion, things are changing gradually in the area of women participating meaningfully and influentially in peace building processes. However the lack of policies that encourage women’s participation and the mind-set that mediation and negotiation is the exclusive preserve of men, needs to change. This study highlights areas where changes are occurring as well as areas where a lot more work needs to be done


In order to achieve meaningful and influential participation of women in peace building initiatives, the following approaches are recommended

  1. Project interventions for young people in and out of school towards the actualization of leadership position by women and girls.
  2. Initiate and strengthen community dialogue on the advantages of women in peacebuilding.
  • CSOs are to challenge and create demand when women are excluded from formal processes.
  1. Media reports should highlight where women’s participation has been ignored.  Identify and have a database of female peace champions that fit the post and profile them as suitable alternatives.
  2. Women and girl role models can volunteer to visit establishments of groups and can be individually twinned in a mentoring programme.
  3. Systematic monitoring of implementation of all relevant plans, policies and laws.

Suggestions for Further Study

The data for this study comprised of individual accounts of the experiences of female peacemakers in Borno State, Nigeria obtained via questionnaire administration . For additional insights into the experiences of women within this region, a study of the women who were mentored and groomed by these female leaders may be a good consideration. And the outcome compared to that of the female leaders. Another study can be conducted by a female from the region and the outcome compared with that of this study. The comparative study might provide additional or different data which will complement the one already gathered. Another idea might be to conduct a focused group interview as group exchanges might arouse reactions that were not shared by the individual participants.

These ideas for future research do not in any way diminish the importance of the specific experiences of the participants interviewed.

For the development agencies, the outcome of the study can form an entire program broken down into several projects. Each of these projects will require more investigation to better position these agencies to tackle the identified challenges. A research detailing the various local peace structures that exist within the various communities including a gender disaggregated data of their membership composition will be a good baseline for intervention purposes. Another important research will be a more elaborate study of the suggested strategies focusing on how, who and what resources are required for their implementation. This can serve as a blueprint for engaging different stakeholders based on their areas of focus and capabilities. It will also be an important consideration to conduct a comparative study of the experiences of men engaged in peace building and conflict management within the region.


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