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One UN on Gender in Kenya

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To Avoid Conflict, We Try To Teach Our Women – Amina Samuel

To avoid conflict, we try to teach our women – Amina Samuel

Amina Samuel, 45, from Kenya’s Kwale County began her involvement in conflict resolution in 1992. She has spent 27 years working for Maendeleo Ya Wanawake Organization a non-profit focused on enhancing gender equality in Kenya. She is also a member of her county’s peace committee. Peace committees in Kenya exist at all administrative levels and form an important part of the country’s peace architecture. Kenya’s National Action Plan (KNAP) on United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR1325) is a crucial policy framework and has helped increase the participation of women in these committees and deepened their involvement in the country’s peace and security agenda.

” As a peacekeeper – my broader mandate is to sensitize the community on peace issues and create awareness; capacity building of women and youth on peace building; conflict management and conflict resolution.

The KNAP has been implemented positively and has increased numbers of women involved in peace work, and awareness has been raised. The training that is offered to county peace committees then filters down to smaller more localized peace groups. For example, I myself am training in Lungalunga sub county – it has 6 locations, each with 15 members and one location has 4 sub-locations.

In conflict management, we educate women to make sure conflicts do not arise between two different parties – it could be inside the family or outside the family, it is a misunderstanding between two parties. To avoid conflict, we try to teach our women.

For example, there was conflict between the community and government some years ago – a group called MRC (Mombasa Republican Council), a militia group, felt their rights had been violated, historical injustices had been done to them, so they formed a group. We live with these people so we sat down and talked with them. In this case we discussed the effects of conflict and some individuals stepped away from the group.

I also train women groups separately on peace issues. I train everyone in my sub-county. A women’s group could have around 15-30 members. And in a sub-location you may find more than 50 groups. The peace committees don’t have funds but the KNAP on UNSCR 1325 works as a guide for peace work. It has also enabled us to develop partnerships because we go out training and meet new partners/groups – we get new information and ideas from the action plan. You also need passion – I love peace!

In a peace committee where I used to sit, most of the time they listened to my advice.  You see us women, we have that empathy and when a woman appears, everyone’s attention is drawn and people are keen to listen to what she has to say. We are trusted as we are also the custodians of our families.”

UN Women has provided technical support, with help from Government of Finland to develop the second Kenya National Action Plan (KNAP) which represents the country’s primary policy tool to realise and implement UNSCR1325 on Women Peace and Security. The 2nd Phase of the KNAP on UNSCR 1325 will be expected to be launched in early 2020 following national consultation sessions with key stakeholders from government and civil society.   

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