Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

3rd Session, 40th Parliament,
Volume 147, Issue 99

Friday, March 25, 2011
The Honourable Donald H. Oliver, Speaker pro tempore

Participation of Women in Peace Processes

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, I rise today to share with you the process of reconciliation by some brave and visionary women.

Over a year ago, Urgent Action Fund, a fund that empowers women, wanted to implement United Nations Resolution 1325, a resolution Canada can be very proud of as our official ambassador, David Angell, and others have worked hard to have the UN adopt this resolution. This resolution calls for participation of women in peace processes. Terry Greenbelt, Marcy Wells and Sanam Anderlini brought together Kenyan women from the north, the coast, the Rift Valley and the cities to form a coalition of women fighting for peace.

When we first met in Amman, Jordan, a year ago, Mary Kakuvi, Halima Shuria, Mildred Ngesa, Joy Mbaabu and Jessica Nkuuhe had to deal with a lot of pain and anger. Their relatives had been killed or maimed, their friends were lost, and their communities were destroyed.

While facilitating meetings in Amman, I was concerned that the women would never be able to heal and work together. Would there be a coalition?

On leaving Amman, the women decided to put their differences aside and resolved to work together. On March 8, 2011, the Kenyan women launched an organization called Udada, which is a Swahili word for sisterhood. Udada, which is a grassroots organization that the above five women have established, seeks to promote sisterhood and nurture sustainable peace. Udada has a mandate that will empower women at the grassroots level by giving them the tools they need to ensure that peace prevails in both their households and their communities, and especially to ensure that the next Kenyan election is violence-free.

At the launch, the chairman of the Commission to Implement the Constitution, Charle Nyachae, was the guest speaker. He spoke eloquently of the involvement of women in the Kenyan constitution and especially in enforcing the constitution. After the launch of Udada, we met to help implement the mandate of the coalition. Our Canadian High Commissioner, David Collins, worked with us and sent Richard Le Bars to also work with us and to organize the women, especially before the next election.

The Constitutional Commissioner said at the meeting that the constitution will only be fully implemented if the Kenyan people, and especially the greatest beneficiaries, the women of Kenya, remain vigilant.

Honourable senators, Kenya is a country that is home to 40 tribes. Unfortunately, tribalism has been a source of conflict and tension for the Kenyan people. However, Udada is an organization that wants to work past the differences that divide women and seeks to focus on the common ground or issues that bind them together.

I am confident that these five women, with the help of other women, will change the way elections are fought in Kenya. I salute Udada and admire their efforts to mobilise women, mitigate conflict, promote national values and nurture peaceful co-existence.

I ask honourable senators to join me in congratulating Mary, Halima, Mildred, Jessica, Joy, Terry, Marcy and Sanam, for advocating for Kenyan sisters and standing in solidarity with all the women of Kenya, regardless of their tribe, religion or creed, to bring peace in Kenya.