By Rose Athumani
AFRICAN Union Commission (AUC) Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security has appealed to Somalia government and the African Mission in Somali to engage women in all efforts to counter violent extremism.
AUC Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security Adviser Col Theophilia Shaanika said women are well positioned to play effective roles in efforts against radicalism and extremism.
“They are positive change agents in countering violent extremism and radicalisation in Africa and Somalia in particular,” Col Shaanika explained. The Adviser to the Special Envoy on Security made the remarks in a three-day Counter Radicalisation Conference that started in Dar es Salaam yesterday.
The Conference seeks to build the capacity of religious leaders, Somali practitioners and increase awareness on the importance of including women in approaches to anti-radicalization measures and share experiences and best practices with experts, researchers, practitioners from the continent tackling radicalization.
Col Shaanika in her remarks noted that terrorists propagandists are misusing and misinterpreting religious values, using the society perception of women and children as non-violent and indoctrinating them to be perpetrators of terrorism acts.
“Violent extremism and terrorism is more and more women and youth. We have seen examples of young girls and women in northern Nigeria and elsewhere in the world.
This is a worrisome trend, how can we act in relation to this disturbing phenomenon,” Col Shaanika wondered. She added that women can play different roles when it comes to violent extremism, “they can be enablers and actors or they can play a key role in countering radicalism and extremism, gender analysis should be entrenched in policies, mitigation and prevention mechanism at all levels.”
The representative of the AMISOM Head of Mission, Deputy Commissioner of Police Christine Alalo said the conference has come at the right time when Somalia is making tremendous progress towards sustainable peace and security, attributing the achievement to AMISOM and key partners.
“As you are aware much of South Central Somalia previously under conflict has generally been liberated, allowing residents to peacefully undertake socioeconomic activities. A functioning federal government is now in place and regional state have been formed, a great achievement towards peace and stable Somalia,” she explained.
Somalia Deputy Ambassador to Tanzania Abdulkadir Yusuf appreciated Tanzania for hosting the conference, and acknowledged the significant achievements by AMISOM in restoring peace in Somalia. “AMISOM have played a key role in restoring peace and stability in Somalia. We are very grateful for the work they are doing and we are ready to work with them,” he noted.
UN Development Programme (UNDP) Gender Specialist, Head of Cross- Cutting Unit, Ms Victoria Ijema Nwogu said UNDP is one of the agencies with long standing presence in Somalia and has initiatives of working with young people.