BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
One of the most important issues in conflict resolution and peace building process in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria has been that of the exclusion of women from the process. The involvement of women in decision making, conflict management and post conflict process of where peace building features, is limited in the Niger Delta as well as in other communities in Nigeria. This could be explained from the socio-cultural impediments and misconceptions placed on the female gender that induced their relegation to the background. The contributions of women in any of the above mentioned areas are mere suggestions and most often jettisoned at critical decision times. The relegation of women to the background in national affairs even in matters that affect them directly like peace and security originate from the home or the private domain into the general society (Sheila 1999, Shertima, 2001). However, women have been able to force their way through protest and dialogue though, to a very little extent in tackling issues and matters that affect them especially in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. It is a common knowledge that in conflict and war situations, women and children are the most vulnerable, even though they were neither consulted nor partook in the disagreement that snowballed into conflict. Nevertheless, they are forced to bear the loss of spouses, children and care for the wounded, displaced, raped and lived with the psychological trauma for life. However, when it is time for conflict resolution and peace building process, unfortunately only the men are involved as members of delegations to negotiate peace. (Oppong and Oppong 1987, Scott 1996) Irrespective of their relegation, the women folks have tried in various ways in averting, checking and halting otherwise threatening situations to peace and security in the history of Nigeria in general and the Niger Delta Region in particular. There were women like: Madam Tinubu of Lagos, Queen Amina of Zaria, Margaret Ekpo of Calabar/Abia, Fumnilayo Kuti, to mention a few. These women held sway, amidst exercising political powers and employing diplomacy, a prominent tool in achieving peace in their respective societies. In the African scene, the peace building process, women form organizations to achieve their goal in that direction. Mano River Women's Peace Network MRWPN, Liberian Women's Initiative (LWI) Association of Female Lawyers in Liberia (AFLL) Sierra Leone Women's Movement for Peace (SLWMP) among others (Oluyemi - Kusa 2004). In the present time, as a result of the women not being part of formal decision making, women have to rely on alternative mechanisms to voice out their demands. Thus, in spite of the exclusion of the women, they have been influential in peace processes as was the case in the oil-rich Niger Delta where major Multinational oil companies like Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Texaco, Elf Petroleum Nigeria, Agip, etc, explore oil. According to Ransom et al (2001), women are not usually inclined towards violence; they get involved in a purposeful fashion, to either protect themselves or their children. Their aggression also is often not out of control, unlike men who seem to be innately violent. In a corroborative manner, Oluyemi - Kusa asserts thus: Men tend to go into negotiations expecting one side to win and another to loose whereas -women look for points of commonality and less afraid to compromise... This admirable trait of talk to finish rather than fight-to-finish distinguishes the female gender. Against this background, the paper examines the strategies adopted by women in conflict resolution and peace building and the socio-cultural obstacles that impede their active participation in the resolution of conflict and peace building process in Niger Delta region of Nigeria.
STATEMENT OF THE GENERAL PROBLEM
The violence and discrimination against women has been a perennial problem in most West African countries especially Nigeria. This has led to various cases of rape, maltreatment and relegation of women in political, social and religious gatherings. The persistent ethno religious crises in Nigeria have defied almost all methods ranging from military actions to political negotiations, this menace of crises may be as a result of the negligence of women in making inputs to containing violence and ensuring peace in the a multi ethnic society like Nigeria.
AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The major aim of the study is to examine women and peace building in the Niger delta region ofg Nigeria. Other specific objectives of the study are to;
H0: There is no significant relationship between women participation and peace building in the Niger delta region of Nigeria.
H1: There is a significant relationship between women participation and peace building in the Niger delta region of Nigeria.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The study would be of immense importance to government at all levels and related stakeholders on how to improve women participation in the peace building process, not just in the Niger delta alone but in the entire country. The study would also benefit students, researchers and scholars who are interested in developing further studies on the subject matter.
SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The study is on women and peace building in the Niger delta region of Odi, Igbokoda and Bomadi in Bayelsa, Ondo and Delta states respectively.
Limitations of the study
Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.