In a bid to promote inter-religious harmony in Plateau State, the King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID) in collaboration with the Women Initiative for Positive Peace Building Initiative (WOPPI) and Women Peace Builders Network in Nigeria (WOPENN), organized an interreligious conference aimed to empower women in Plateau State to play a more active role in promoting interfaith harmony in their communities.
The interreligious conference themed “The role and importance of women in building a culture of inter-religious harmony in Nigeria” which took place at the JPRM-POCC Conference Hall, Lamingo Road Jos on Wednesday 10th May 2023 in collaboration with The King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue, (KAICIID) supported by Women Initiative For Positive Peace Building Initiative (WOPPI), Women Peace Builders Network in Nigeria (WOPENN) hard in attendance women representing the Muslim and Christian faith in Plateau State and also community leaders.
JPRM Executive Director and also a convener of the event, Eld. Amb Mrs. Justina Ngwobia who is also a KAICIID fellow stated that the Conference is part of an inter-worldview dialogue where women and other stakeholders are trained to interact and dialogue with one another to have peaceful coexistence in their communities and Nigeria as a whole.
“The project is meant to bring in women all over northern Nigeria to discuss issues as it affects them. How can we women as Christians and Muslims relate with one another as people of different faiths, cultures, communities, and backgrounds, share a common grounds where we throw sentiments, interests, politics, and religion apart in such a way that we will come together and dialogue on issues as it affects humanity because what we preach is humanity first before anything else”
In her media address, Mrs. Justina stated that the dialogue process will continue even after the program as there will be meetings with the incoming government and follow-up visits to the women in their various communities.
Hajiya Lantana Bako Abdullahi a co-convener of the initiative stated that the role of women must continuously be emphasized in the area of interigious dialogue, especially in the Northern part of Nigeria where there is more conflict.
“It’s important for women to see that they have what it takes to contribute to nation-building and most importantly in strengthening inter-religious dialogue among the various communities. Part of the outcome of this meeting are two important recommendations that women must demand inclusion in the plateau state inter-religious council as there is no single women representation in the 46-member group which is a great disservice to the contribution and voices of women to the promotion of peace.
Secondly, we need to reach out to the incoming government to discuss agenda-setting on issues are women’s participation in leadership and decision-making process especially in the North and particularly emphasizing affirmative action, and issues of conflict and violence as we are already seeing some resurgence of violence in some northern state which is a clear indication that the newly elected government need to be proactive about peacebuilding.”
Speaking at the event, Prince Charles Dickson, a peace practitioner and policy analyst called on women to support each other as he spoke on the challenges women face in society.
“The conversation about the role of women in peacebuilding has to be amplified and the only way to do that is that women to start telling their stories and be intentional about changing the narrative also women need to start promoting each other and engaging the bigger public with their own stories then we will get a bigger spectrum, in other words, programs like this should be more often and women should be given opportunities like this to interact and tell their stories”
Lead advocate, Plateau Women in Peace and Security Hajihah Fati Sole urged the participants to channel their motherly affinity to influence peaceful and meaningful dialogue to their family and communities at large.
Also speaking, at the event is Hajihah Amina Ahmed, Mrs. Sese Isaiah, Mrs. Brijet Dakes, Mrs. Jennifer Yerima, Chairman, Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Plateau Chapter, and the Moderator member JPRM Mary Bature
At the interaction, the women who were divided into groups were tasked with creating sustainable ideas and action plans that can aid in inter-religious harmony in their various communities and beyond.
Representing the Christian faithful, the chairperson of Plateau state women wing Christian Council of Nigeria (WOWICCN) Dorcas Yusuf Lankat stated that the discussion has helped in identifying ways of bridging the gap between the two major religions in the state, identifying the capacity of women in achieving sustainable peace and the need to make the effort of women more visible.
The Federation of Muslim Women’s Association of Nigeria (FOMWAN) president, Hajiya Kaltume Auwalu, highlighted measures being put in place as a result of the initiative by KAICIID.
She said “A joint prayer session between the Christian and Muslim faithful is already being planned as part of the action plan to ensure peace and interreligious harmony in the state. We also intend to organize football matches between communities.”