Irish School of Ecumenics
Supervisors: Dr Iain Atack / Dr Gillian Wylie
Women and Peace-building in the Benue Valley, Nigeria
I am investigating the role of women in the Benue Valley who are doing peace-building where hundreds of different groups are fighting for basic human needs of food, water, and shelter. There are two aspects to my research; first, I want to investigate how women’s work is meeting the unmet basic human need in the Benue valley and second, I want to explore the possibility of how these women can establish mediation courts for peace-building. I hope that this would also be a means by which they make their daily living. My study will take me to the Benue Valley for three months where I will interview, conduct focus groups, observe practice and record on video the activities of women doing peace-building in this area.
What I Learned from the Innovation Academy
The first thing that caught my attention when I got the Academy handbook was these sentences: Study Makes a Scholar, Action Makes an Entrepreneur. It was an emotive moment for me, as I would like to be a peace entrepreneur.
I found the introduction to making promotional videos for our work revealing. I had wanted to put down video as part of my research methodology but I was not sure how I could do it. So it was good to be introduced to video-making in a simple way and then given the opportunity to do it for ourselves. Now, I know better what I can do and I hope to produce a DVD on my research thesis.
As a Nigerian, we have an adage that “opportunity comes once in a lifetime.” I cannot say I have lived my life this way, but it has been on my mind. However, at the Innovation Academy, this mind-set was challenged and I learned that there are many opportunities out there for me to take. Within a day, six groups were able to come up with six viable projects, just from looking at daily newspapers. This was a discovery for me. I now live with the idea that as long as I remain creative and innovative, I shall be in business and will be relevant and happy in life.
The innovation project which my team was assigned was called “Cashless Campus”. We worked on this with industry mentors from Citibank. The project gave me an opportunity to carry out qualitative research within a short time and this has built my confidence for the fieldwork on my research thesis that awaits me. While working on the project at Citi, we were introduced to the De Bono “Six Thinking Hats” method – a simple, effective parallel thinking process that helps people to be more productive and mindfully involved. It is especially useful in how it puts people who are quiet and reserved on an equal footing with those who are more talkative and might monopolize a meeting. This is a method that I plan to use in my research methodology. I shall use it with the focus group that I shall be conducting in Nigeria. It has the potential of producing quality data in my research work.
From the experience I have had in the Innovation Academy, I think I have a unique opportunity to add value to my research work. I have new skills in teamwork; on how to conduct focus groups. Moreover, I can now hope to make a documentary of my research so as to promote peace-building. The Academy has enabled to believe that there are many opportunities for me in my research. The biggest lesson I have learned is that there are solutions for societal problems. Whoever finds a solution to one of them is in business. I am looking forward to fine-tuning my research and thinking about how I can practically carry out the fieldwork. I have identified something I can do, but it will take a lot of work. However, I think I am on to something good!