Nigerian Women’s Resilience amidst the politicisation of Religion and Violence By Fulata Moyo
We visited north east Nigeria, as part of the World Council of Churches’ pilgrimage of justice and peace initiative. As an expression of solidarity with women, the focus was active listening to women’s experiences as victims and survivors of male-initiated violence in a context where religion, culture and armed conflict serve as instruments of the politics of patri-kyriarchal domination.
What were the women’s stories? What examples of resilience and resistance as agents of transformation could they share? Using four town hall meetings, 10 focus group interviews and 50 short individual interviews, we listened and interrogated the role of religion and culture. With feminist ethics of care as our theoretical framework, we analysed these accounts, especially the gendered aspects of violence and women’s agency in response.
Since religious, cultural and political leadership is often male, listening to and holding conversation with men became a methodological imperative so as to ensure that both our analysis and conclusions were ethically viable.
Though it is arguable that neither Boko Haram’s insurgence nor the herdsmen versus farmers conflict is about the religion or culture of the targeted communities, women’s stories bring important insights into the patriarchal politics of power and greed fuelling most of the attacks. However, the women who were interviewed use religion as the source of their agency for hope and healing.