Prominent women-leaders from the Central-West region of Western province excelled to greater heights in knowledge and understanding of their roles and responsibilities in building and maintaining peace in the province, after attending a time-bound, extremely informative, emotional but fun, hope-filled and commitment-setting peace-building conference early last month.
The conference was held on the 3rd – 6th of June, 2014 in Gizo.
Jointly organized by the Western Province Reconciliation and Peace Office (WPRO) of the Ministry of National Unity Reconciliation and Peace (MNURP) and the Western Province Council of Women (WPCW), Central-West Women's Peace Building Conference brought together presidents, members of the executive committees and representatives of 22 established ward councils of women from Shortland Islands to North New Georgia and Southern weather coast of Rendova Island together with Provincial and National Government and NGO partners.
The general aim of this conference was to provide an opportunity for women leaders to widen and broaden their knowledge, skills and attitudes in the area of peace-building. Participants will also be informed of the requirement of the UN Charter 1325 and the need for nations of the world to provide peace and security for women and girls at home and in their communities.
Convened at the WP Women's Resource Centre in Gizo Town, Central-West Women's Peace Building Conference was officially opened by the Provincial Member for Ward 10 and the Minister for State, Community & State Affairs, Hon Jane Tozaka as the conference's opening guest of Honour. Invited to the opening ceremony were heads of the departments of the Western provincial government and development agencies.
Representing the Ministry of National Unity, Reconciliation and Peace were Deputy Director – Western Peace and Reconciliation Office Mr Wilson Liligeto, Deputy Director – Headquarter, Mr Chris Tabea and two Chief Peace and Reconciliation Officers Joshua Loko and Bruno Manele.
Representing the Western Province Council of Women were Ms Rendy Solomon as the President, Salome Topo as the Secretary and Delwyn Tokese as the coordinator.
In her key note address, Hon Tozaka wasted no time but congratulated the women for the powerful and successful but humble, silent and often unnoticed peace-making and wound-healing initiatives women play in intermittent conflicts in our present-day societies and in the recent ethnic uprising.
Such undervalued contributions of the critical and often dangerous frontline moves women perform in war-torn societies to salvage peace does not only occur in our islands but also in other parts of the world.
Hon Tozaka therefore brought to light the eminent importance of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, “which acknowledged that civilians, particularly women and children account for the vast majority of those adversely afflicted by armed conflict”
Therefore she strongly recommended, “The mainstreaming of a gender perspective into peacekeeping operations. To that end, the resolution set a new threshold of action for UN and all governments by calling for institutionalizing the participation of women at the peace table, and in the post-conflict processes of peace-building and reconstruction”.
In addition to the global call for empowering and acknowledging the role of women in conflict resolution and prevention; topics surrounding local perspectives were presented by speakers from Western Peace & Reconciliation Office, Western Provincial Council of Women, Western Provincial Government Planning, Agriculture, Rural Development Project and Family Violence Division of the Western Province Police Headquarter. Topics covered included peace-building policies and programs in the country, government planning, women's program, national and household economy, natural resource use and management, sustainable developments, agricultural programs which gained allot of interests from the women, social service developments and family violence.
Not only was information being imparted to the women but valuable information was also collected from them.
Each ward representative was given a chance to present to the conference the general outlook of how members of their society view their roles and engagement in their local society and any attempts made to formally register women-organizations. Information collected greatly varied within all the 22 wards and most of the responses were factual to the point that they became very emotional.
All in all, the conference hopes to inform and equip women leaders of the new peace-building knowledge, skills and values in order to improve their capacity to educate and advocate effectively in the areas of peace-building in their respective community governance, wards, constituencies and the province as a whole.
The climax of the conference came just before the end of the workshop, when all the women came out with determined recommendations, calling on all appropriate Government authorities, Non-government and Civil Society organizations to render in their support in their agreed and signed Resolutions.
Summing up all the sharing and discussions, one of the least outspoken woman in conference finally gained courage at the end of the 3-day conference and perfectly summed up the whole program as “It is not so often that the toils and struggles women have to bear to make life worth living is acknowledged. This we do not care too much about.
“All that we wish for is to be part of the learning cycle that each and every person has the right to in order that we can be able to live, provider better contributions and be part of this present and ever-changing and evolving world around us”.