WOMEN SITUATION ROOM: ACTORS IN THE PROCESS OF PEACE MAKING
Challenging the face of talking the walk to walking the talk
Until women are actively involved in political participation, decision making and peace making process, we will continue to live in an unjust society. It is essential for women to get themselves involved or be included in every developmental sector within our society. On the 26th of April 2019, the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa (CHRDA) in partnership with the United States Embassy Yaoundé hosted a day workshop entitled “Women Situation Room: Actors in Peace Making Process”. The workshop was part of CHRDA’s objective to promote women’s rights, advocate for the inclusion of women in decision making process and the increase in political participation sponsored by the United States Embassy Yaoundé. This workshop was also triggered by the prevailing crisis in the Anglophone Regions of Cameroon which has claim thousands of lives and rendering women more vulnerable. Women, especially in the African society are faced with discrimination and violation of their rights because of traditions and beliefs. They are always seen as second class citizens with little or no idea of leadership skills. Taking the advantage of women’s vulnerability, crimes against women like rape, non-inclusion of women in decision making, denial of political participation and top political positions have been recorded in many occasions. According to recent statistics gotten from the UNWomen (www.unwomen.\org), there has been a slow increase in women participation in political representatives around the world. This slow increase saw 11.3 percent in 1995 to 24 percent in 2018. The same statistics also indicates that in the month of January 2019, 11 women were serving as head of states and 10 as head of government; this number is very low as compare to the population of women who constitute more than 60 of the world population. However, some countries like Rwanda are making it easy through its laws and implementations for more women to be represented in government as women now have 60 percent representation in the parliament of Rwanda. There is therefore a need for an increase of women in decision making processes and political participation within the globe especially in the Cameroonian jurisdiction where more women are not represented in the government.
THE OBJECTIVE OF THE WORKSHOP
The Bamenda 2019 convention which brought together more than a hundred participants was aimed;
- To train trainers who can advocate for women’s rights in the grass roots (To mentorship other women)
- To advocate for the inclusion women in decision making process
- To advocate for the inclusion of women in peacemaking and peace building process
- To increase the participation of women in politics
- To share ideas and build resolution which can foster better living condition for women in the modern society.
EXPECTATIONS FROM PARTICIPANTS; THE PARTICIPANT WERE OF THE FACT THAT AT THE END OF THE MEETING, THE FOLLOWING EXPECTATIONS SHOULD BE ACCOMPLISHED
- declarations to be channel to the right quarters
- How to combat gender based violence
- Sisterhood should be built by women
- Strategies should be put in place for follow-up
- women should support worthy women who are holding political offices
- women should get involved in advocacy and acquired necessary skills to impact other women
- Strategies for reporting gender-based violence should be established
- women who received the training should be able to train other women
The workshop started at 9:30am on the 26th of April 2019 with a Word of welcome from Mr. Bongwong Justine, CHRDA’s Northwest Coordinator. More than a hundred participants attended the workshop and the discussions were more on the involvement of women in political participation, decision making and peace making process. The pertinent issues were divided into three phase presentation; that is “Legal Framework on Women Rights and Political Participation by Cynthia Wakuna”, Women in Politics and Decision Making Bodies by Enow Bachem” and “Women Situation Room and UNSR1325 and Women in Conflict Situation by Violet Fokum”. The above speakers were much welcome by the participants as they drilled leaders of Civil Society Organization on the rights, political participation and peace making process. There were many Civil Society Organization representatives present during the workshop; United Nation Institute of Training and Research (UNITAR), Plan Cameroon, Women in Action Against Gender Based Violence (WACameroon), Healthy Leaving Promoters ,Sustainable Women Organization, Mother of Hope Cameroon, Denis Miki Foundation. Many Religious groups were also represented like Tribute Sisters, Catholic Women Associations. Cultural Associations were also represented from Oku, Nso, Ndamukong and many others.
The first speaker, Ms. Cynthia Wakuna made known to the women that their rights are fundamental and that women’s rights are human rights and ought to be respected without exception. She did not only make known women’s rights to the participants, but at the same time drilled the participants on some leading legal frameworks protecting women’s rights. For example, the United Nation Security Council Resolution 1325, preamble of the 1996 Constitution of Cameroon, the Cameroon Penal Code, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948, the Special Marriage Act 1954, Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act 2013 etc. She also advised women to be actively involved in advocacy for other women and not to be afraid of voicing their problems to the public. Though worried by women’s silence when their rights are being violated, she did not end there but continued by instructing women to always initiate legal action when their rights are being violated by any person.
The Second speaker, Mr. Enow Bachem who drilled the participants on the importance of women’s involvement in politics and decision making did not hesitate to lament that “why is it that women constitute closed to or more than 60% of the world population but are not involved in politics and decision making process” this was the question of the day as women reflected on likely causes. Drawing inspiration from prominent speakers like Patrick Lumumba, he made women to understand that they are the backboned of every successful society. He also said that the only way women can fulfill their duty of being the backbone of every successful society it to get involved in political participation and decision making bodies
The last speaker Dr. Violet Fokum, the head of CHRDA’s Gender Task Force prepared the minds of participants on how they can survive in conflicts situation. She also schooled women on the role they can play in peace making process while laying more emphases on the Anglophone crisis. Referring from UNSCR1325, Dr. Fokum recapped that women should learn how to channel their problems to the right quarters where proper follow up and or legal procedures can be initiated. Her presentation was more interactive as many participants shared sorrowful stories in relation to issues like rape, tortured and suffering in conflict situations.
At the end of the workshop the message focuses on one direction that is creating platforms where Women Leaders and policymakers can move beyond the rhetoric of gender mainstreaming and start putting words into action.
PLAN OF ACTION; AT THE END OF THE WORKSHOP, THE PARTICIPANT CAME UP WITH THE FOLLOWING PLANS OF ACTION
- A sisterhood cluster should be in schools or communities
- We should not wait for others but talk amongst ourselves
- We are products of our mothers thus we should start educating our children from childhood on the values of love for one another and accept our differences
- Clean up our dirty environment; go out and work together as one voice
- Parents should not shift their responsibilities to the teachers. We should create a comfortable atmosphere for younger ones
- We should create awareness and peace crusader’s platform. That is to take these messages and knowledge to the rural areas using different languages
- Create avenues for livelihood…
- Learn to encourage one another
- Parents should create safe space for their teenagers and adolescents
- Collective action in line with peace building efforts should be encourage
- Use all our groups, njangis, church groups, social groups, youth groups as students as a means of preaching peace
- Advocate for peace by composing songs, poems and creative works; aimed for the upbringing of children toward the path of peace.
Women; Rise up and shine, break the chain of silence and make it a duty to defend your right and that of others. Let us challenged the face of talking the walk to walking the talk
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