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.
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.
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.
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.”