Celebrating Feminists’ Voices, Inspiring Global Peace

IWD Spotlight: WILPF Cameroon Implements National Action Plan on UNSCR 1325

2 March 2018

Leading up to International Women’s Day on March 8, WILPF will be publishing a series of articles spotlighting some of the efforts of our member groups to create a more sustainable, peaceful future for women around the world. Follow these publications and support International Women’s Day by sharing with the hashtag #IWD2018.

WILPF Cameroon celebrates the passage of UNSCR 1325 NAP! ©WILPF Cameroon

After years of strenuous research, planning, and lobbying, WILPF Cameroon made a breakthrough. For the first time in Cameroon, they saw their government adopt a National Action Plan (NAP) on Women, Peace and Security.

“The NAP was the outcome of more than four years of very hard work,” explains Sylvie Ndongmo, president of WILPF Cameroon. After their success, the feeling amongst the member group was “relieved, very proud and grateful… it meant bringing historic change in the national legal frame regarding peacebuilding.”

The NAP lays out concrete operational procedures in Cameroon regarding UN Security Council Resolution 1325. In particular, it addresses the elements of violence that corrupt women’s security in the country, both internal and those filtering across the borders. The report analyses commitment and knowledge of UNSCR 1325 and the WPS agenda, and submits recommendations for local and nation-wide initiatives to combat these inequalities.

WILPF Cameroon members working on the NAP. ©WILPF Cameroon

The report was adopted for a three-year period, but getting to that point was not easy. “We faced quite a number of difficulties throughout the process, as being a civil society organisation is very challenging in our context.”

That context, explains Ndongmo, is complicated. “The country having been considered for long as a peaceful country, the consequence [is] that not many people including international organisations, government officials, communities and private sector thought it wise to invest in peace building and make it a priority.”

At the same time she recognises WILPF Cameroon’s “strong, trained and committed team [helped] overcome the difficulties and gain confidence of different stakeholders.” In the end, “people quickly came to consider the increasing security challenges in the country and got to understand the need to invest in peace and make it a holistic approach.”

The NAP has re-committed the government of Cameroon to the future of Cameroonian women and peace. International Women’s Day celebrates the historical and contemporary peacebuilding efforts of women, and WILPF Cameroon has shown their deep dedication to crafting a more peaceful future for their country.

This achievement has not slowed the section down, however, only renewed their commitment. Leading up to International Women’s Day, and in the spirit of their newly-minted NAP, WILPF Cameroon has participated in preparatory meetings at the Ministry of Women’s Empowerment and the Family Regional Delegation in Douala, the National Launch by the same ministry in February and panelled at the regional launch in Douala themed around WPS. They will campaign on social media and present on nonviolence, dialogue and tolerance leading up to March 8, on which they will participate in varied celebrations in conferences.

©WILPF Cameroon

All this is in the effort of sustaining the momentum from the NAP. “The main fear after the NAP publication is that it becomes a political instrument with no impact,” says Ndongmo. “The greatest challenge now is ensuring concrete implementation as it entails mobilising human and financial resources, capacity building, a robust media campaign, just to name a few.”

WILPF Cameroon has already established mediation training groups for women in local communities and working on a “Women’s Alert Cell,” an early warning mechanism to prevent violence around election times in Cameroon. The section’s initiatives to build non-violence in Cameroon are persistent and momentous in the country.

As for the passing of the NAP: “Women’s role in particular,” says Ndongmo, “was the greatest result.”

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Melissa Torres

VICE-PRESIDENT

Prior to being elected Vice-President, Melissa Torres was the WILPF US International Board Member from 2015 to 2018. Melissa joined WILPF in 2011 when she was selected as a Delegate to the Commission on the Status of Women as part of the WILPF US’ Practicum in Advocacy Programme at the United Nations, which she later led. She holds a PhD in Social Work and is a professor and Global Health Scholar at Baylor College of Medicine and research lead at BCM Anti-Human Trafficking Program. Of Mexican descent and a native of the US/Mexico border, Melissa is mostly concerned with the protection of displaced Latinxs in the Americas. Her work includes training, research, and service provision with the American Red Cross, the National Human Trafficking Training and Technical Assistance Centre, and refugee resettlement programs in the U.S. Some of her goals as Vice-President are to highlight intersectionality and increase diversity by fostering inclusive spaces for mentorship and leadership. She also contributes to WILPF’s emerging work on the topic of displacement and migration.

Jamila Afghani

VICE-PRESIDENT

Jamila Afghani is the President of WILPF Afghanistan which she started in 2015. She is also an active member and founder of several organisations including the Noor Educational and Capacity Development Organisation (NECDO). Elected in 2018 as South Asia Regional Representative to WILPF’s International Board, WILPF benefits from Jamila’s work experience in education, migration, gender, including gender-based violence and democratic governance in post-conflict and transitional countries.

Sylvie Jacqueline Ndongmo

PRESIDENT

Sylvie Jacqueline NDONGMO is a human rights and peace leader with over 27 years experience including ten within WILPF. She has a multi-disciplinary background with a track record of multiple socio-economic development projects implemented to improve policies, practices and peace-oriented actions. Sylvie is the founder of WILPF Cameroon and was the Section’s president until 2022. She co-coordinated the African Working Group before her election as Africa Representative to WILPF’s International Board in 2018. A teacher by profession and an African Union Trainer in peace support operations, Sylvie has extensive experience advocating for the political and social rights of women in Africa and worldwide.

WILPF Afghanistan

In response to the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban and its targeted attacks on civil society members, WILPF Afghanistan issued several statements calling on the international community to stand in solidarity with Afghan people and ensure that their rights be upheld, including access to aid. The Section also published 100 Untold Stories of War and Peace, a compilation of true stories that highlight the effects of war and militarisation on the region. 

IPB Congress Barcelona

WILPF Germany (+Young WILPF network), WILPF Spain and MENA Regional Representative

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Demilitarisation

WILPF uses feminist analysis to argue that militarisation is a counter-productive and ill-conceived response to establishing security in the world. The more society becomes militarised, the more violence and injustice are likely to grow locally and worldwide.

Sixteen states are believed to have supplied weapons to Afghanistan from 2001 to 2020 with the US supplying 74 % of weapons, followed by Russia. Much of this equipment was left behind by the US military and is being used to inflate Taliban’s arsenal. WILPF is calling for better oversight on arms movement, for compensating affected Afghan people and for an end to all militarised systems.

Militarised masculinity

Mobilising men and boys around feminist peace has been one way of deconstructing and redefining masculinities. WILPF shares a feminist analysis on the links between militarism, masculinities, peace and security. We explore opportunities for strengthening activists’ action to build equal partnerships among women and men for gender equality.

WILPF has been working on challenging the prevailing notion of masculinity based on men’s physical and social superiority to, and dominance of, women in Afghanistan. It recognizes that these notions are not representative of all Afghan men, contrary to the publicly prevailing notion.

Feminist peace​

In WILPF’s view, any process towards establishing peace that has not been partly designed by women remains deficient. Beyond bringing perspectives that encapsulate the views of half of the society and unlike the men only designed processes, women’s true and meaningful participation allows the situation to improve.

In Afghanistan, WILPF has been demanding that women occupy the front seats at the negotiating tables. The experience of the past 20 has shown that women’s presence produces more sustainable solutions when they are empowered and enabled to play a role.

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