Upon the start of violent conflict young women areincreasingly at risk of harm mainly bymass kidnappings, sexual assaults and other violationsas seen in the disturbing trends in sub-Saharan Africa. Such tactics have been employed by violent extremist groups such as Boko Haram to undermine the rights of young women in north-west Central African Republic and Burundiduring recent intra-state conflicts.

However, the risk of such vulnerabilities can be reduced through theempowerment on conflict resilience led by young women. Conflict resilience is the ability for societies and communities to recover quickly from violent disputes and reduce their vulnerability to a resurgence of such conflicts. As stated in UN Security Council Resolution 1325, women should be central in efforts to achieve peace and security. Given the vulnerability of young women during violent conflicts, it makes sense to empower the young women.

The first step to empowerment isidentifying young women residing in conflict affected areas who are motivated to transform their communities into pillars for peace and development. Equally important is recognizing young women who are already leading their communities in conflict transformation to inspire other young women. There are also organisations led by young women that have begun to emerge in Africa for example the Borno Women Development Initiative led by a young woman, Fatima Askira. She tells how supporting and helping people affected by conflict is a responsibility and not a choice. Young women like Askira are an asset to the continent and more young women need to be afforded the opportunity to undertake similar initiatives.

Building resilience therefore needs to be multi-dimensional to ensure success. There is need therefore for a strong partnership between young people, government, civil society and development partners to exist.



By Felix Kiptoo