The Canadian High Commission in collaboration with the Ghana Network for Peace building (GHANEP) has organized a two-day peace-building and conflict prevention capacity building workshop for women and youth drawn from the Dagbon District in the Northern Region. It attracted 60 participants consisting of 30 women and 30 youths.
It was aimed at developing and strengthening the competencies and skills of participants as peace-builders in their communities. The training involved mediation, negotiation and role-playing on conflict prevention, said a release signed and issued in Accra by Nuala Lawlor, Counselor, Political/Economic Relations and Public Affairs at the Canadian high commission.
It said the National Network Coordinator, Justin Bayor, stated that the training was part of WANEP plans to build the skills of a critical mass of people in peace and conflict issues so that they would be well-positioned to resolve conflicts at their community level.
Speaking on the role of women and youth in peace building, Nuala Lawlor noted "We are also very pleased to see women as key actors in peace building and conflict transformation work. Canada supports UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security which calls for the full and equal participation of women in peace processes and peace building activities. While women and children are often the most vulnerable during times of conflict, this is not to say that they cannot be the most powerful agents for peace. This two-day course and media program is directly fulfilling the gap for more women to be involved as peace builders."
The High Commission of Canada and GHANEP also produced a series of radio programmes to share advice on peace-building and conflict resolutions in local communities.
Participants welcomed the opportunity to meet with other women to determine a peaceful way forward for their families: "Absence of violence is not peace. We need freedom from fear. We need health. We need development. Peace is about relationships. And real development is real peace."
Although Ghana is a notably peaceful country, there are a series of reoccurring conflicts, usually related to land and or chieftaincy disputes. In November 2010, the early warning system Ghanawarn noted an upsurge of violence in Dagbon, putting in jeopardy a reconciliation process, the statement pointed out.
GHANEP responded with an action plan involving a series of interventions to avoid violence in the region. Thus the capacity-building workshop was one of their interventions, supported by the High Commission of Canada.
Civil society networks, the release noted, have a vital role to play in early warning structures and conflict transformation work as they have direct access to, and an existing presence amongst, grassroots communities in conflict prone areas which enables them to rapidly verify the extent and nature of local conflicts.
GHANEP interventions in Northern Ghana have been supported by the Canadian High Commission, the Sustainable Peace Initiative (with the support of DfiD and USAID) and the Swedish Development Agency (SIDA).