The Role of Women in Peace Building – a Case Study of Borno State 2009-2011


Women living in Borno State, Nigeria face a herculean challenge of overcoming direct and indirect violence. These include domestic violence, political instability, social inequality, and the threat of Boko Haram. Boko Haram is an extremist militant group that has been known to kidnap, rape, and torture women and young girls as means of terrorizing the Nigerian community. Women have also faced challenges within their own community as they are barred from participating in public activities, are under- represented in government, forced into early marriages, and are often victims of domestic violence. This study examines the role of women in peace building in Borno State, Nigeria.

The study employed the descriptive survey research design in achieving the objectives of the study. A desk review of available literature and Information gathered by NSRP Regional Managers and staff in NSRP’s Borno State.

The result reveals that women are hindered by religious, cultural, financial, level of education and skills and training in their capacity to facilitate peacebuilding in Borno state. The findings also shows that women play a significant role in reducing poverty, transforming conflict and doing justice and the formation of women’s groups and organizations to address issues that affect women. The study also establishes that women play a significant role in peace building.
The study recommends that Women and girl role models can volunteer to visit establishments of groups and can be individually twinned in a mentoring programme. Systematic monitoring of implementation of all relevant plans, policies and laws.




1.1 Background to the study  

Nigeria is a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural society with an estimated population of over 160 million people, which is more than 50% of the entire population in West Africa. Nigeria has over 250 ethnic minorities, but the country is primarily composed of three major ethnic groups: the Igbo, the Yoruba, and the Hausa-Fulani. The groups are also divided along religious lines. The Igbos reside in the eastern part of the country where there is a predominant Catholic community. The Yorubas reside in the western part of the country where there are Protestants and syncretic Christian communities. The Hausa- Fulani reside in the northern part of the country where there is a predominant Muslim community (Mathews, 2002, 28).
A former colony of the United Kingdom, the modern-day Nigeria was created in 1914 in an attempt to consolidate British territories. Consequently, the British authorities did not consult with the local populations during the formation of the new state, and the oversight has led to ethnic, cultural, and regional conflicts that are still proliferating in the present day. These issues include chieftaincy tussles, land disputes, and political contests between the various regions. There have been various attempts to address the uneven distribution of wealth and political power such as quota systems, the federal character, and a rotational presidency amongst the different groups, but these solutions have been ineffective. The initiatives have not resolved the conflicts.

While the present-day conflicts in Nigeria relate to power, resources, and ethnic differences, women constitute a large percentage of those who are negatively impacted by the violent conflicts. Living in a highly male dominated and patriarchal society means that women have more to lose when their sons and husbands die from a violent conflict. Nigerian women are more likely to lose their properties and suffer from physical, psychological, and emotional abuses. In some cases, they must take on additional responsibilities as the head of their household following the death of their male relatives. As a result, the participation of women in post conflict peacebuilding is critical to ensure a peaceful resolution (Ezurum and Eren, 2014, 23). Yet during the peace processes, women are severely underrepresented or sidelined from contributing to the peaceful resolution of the conflict.

1.2 Statement of Research

Women in Borno State, Nigeria constitute a greater percentage of those impacted negatively by violent conflict. They lose husbands, sons, properties, and suffer from unspeakable violence. Most must take on additional responsibility as the head of their household. During peace processes, they are sidelined from contributing towards resolution of the conflict and prevention of future ones.
The need to increase women’s involvement in peace processes is demonstrated by the landmark United Nations Resolution 1325 on women, peace, and security (UN, 2010). The principles of the resolution continue to gain support globally. By 2013, seven regional organizations had adopted 1325 national action plans or related policies, conventions and protocols.

Easy implementation of the resolution will require dealing with contextual issues at the local levels, which differ from one community to the other. Several literatures have examined the importance of the resolution, but most have overlooked the realities that make it impossible to accomplish this much-needed goal. To uncover these realities will require examining the experiences of women from their own point of view, the challenges they encounter, and their suggested strategies for overcoming them. The outcome of the study will assist different development agencies and other stakeholders in developing peace initiatives strategize for more effective planning and implementation of their programs.

This study aims to understand the experiences of female leaders engaged in peacebuilding and conflict management in Borno State, Nigeria and the meaning that these experiences hold for them, especially in Borno State. The region, which is currently under siege by the Boko Haram extremist group, is home to the largest population of Muslims in Nigeria where women cannot freely participate in public activities. A brief examination of the region will provide a context for the study. The effect of these violent conflicts on women within the state is important in several ways. While some have lost their husbands, sons or close relatives, many have lost their source of livelihood due to the physical destruction and looting that are often accompany from these violent conflicts. Women and children constitute the majority of those that now live in the Internally Displaced Persons’ (IDP) centers.
Another objective of this study is to assist peacebuilding practitioners in designing a more effective conflict management system that incorporates the voices of women. To design a successful conflict management and peacebuilding program, we must pay special attention to experiences of both men and women (Agbajobi, 2010, 34). Women constitute half of the population of most communities, as is the case with northern Nigeria, and their participation is paramount in dealing with conflict issues within these communities. Women are central caretakers of families and have played pivotal roles as peace advocates, peacekeepers, relief workers, and mediators. These important roles will remain unfulfilled if women do not participate, which can negatively impact the community.
The women’s perspectives will provide insight into gender and power relations and other issues affecting their communities that may be different from the dominant narrative. This will provide knowledge of not only the women in conflict management in Borno State but the experiences of men. The research will highlight the women’s peacebuilding efforts, their exclusion from formal peace processes, and their perception of exclusion from the peacebuilding process. The knowledge generated from their experience can lead towards highlighting their difficulties and inspire ideas for change in the status quo.

1.3 Aim and Objectives of the study

The aim of the study is to examine the role of women in peace building in Borno State, Nigeria. The specific objectives are to;
i. Identify the roles of women in peacebuilding in Borno State
ii. investigate the factors affecting women in peacebuilding role in Borno State
iii. evaluate the extent to which women significantly influence peacebuilding roles in Borno State

1.4 Scope and Limitation of the Study

The study is limited to Borno state, Nigeria. Borno State is the epicentre of the Boko Haram insurgency, which has affected northern Nigeria, Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon. Women in Borno have organized and participated in numerous marches, ralllies, campaigns and protests to draw attention to abuses, demand participation and action for peace. One of the most widespread actions they took involved the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG)campaign. Meant to be a one-day march in 2014 to bring back the Chibok school girls, the movement includes a call to bring all girls and women home.
1.5 Justification for the Study
Involving women in peace processes and including their concerns will no doubt contribute towards addressing violent conflict in volatile Borno State. This will require a careful study of their lived experiences in order to identify the challenges they face in intervening in conflict issues in the interest of sustainable peace efforts within this region. According to the International Crisis Group (2006), when adequately supported, women’s peace movements can affect large sectors of the population and be a powerful force for reducing violence and building democratic and participatory public institutions, particularly in the post-conflict period
Women are underrepresented in formal conflict resolution process even though they play a pivotal role in contributing to the informal process of peacebuilding. When women are not included, society suffers. Women make a difference, in part because they adopt a more inclusive approach toward security and address key social and economic issues that would otherwise be ignored
In addition to other peacebuilding, women can assist with the rehabilitation of children associated with armed groups as well as convening people across conflict lines to discuss common concerns. It will require strategies that will remove the obstacles obstructing their participation in peace processes, and successful implementation of the resolution will require dealing with contextual issues that differ among the various localities. Several literatures have focused on the importance of the resolution, but many have ignored the realities that made it impossible to accomplish its major goal. To uncover these realities, one must first examine the experiences of women from their own point of view, the challenges they encounter, and their strategies for overcoming the challenges. Studying women living in Borno State, where women’s issues have been overlooked and ignored, is an ideal area of research so we can better understand the larger microcosm of gender inequality in peacebuilding and conflict resolution.

1.6 Methodology
The purpose of this study was to investigate why the role of women in peacebuilding in Borno State, Nigeria. The survey research design was employed in the study. Cross-sectional data was adopted in achieving the survey research design
It has a land area of 72,609 km² and a population of 3.5 million in 2016 Borno State. Borno 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.
The study is based on (a) A desk review of available literature; (b) Information gathered by NSRP Regional Managers and staff in NSRP’s Borno State.



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