LATEST NEWS ON LOBBY and ADVOCACY for 1325 NAP in CAMEROON
A working meeting was held on Monday, August 31, 2015 between Mr. Calice ABESSOLO, Director of Social Promotion in the Ministry of Women Empowerment and Family and WILPF Cameroon’s President, Sylvie Jacqueline NDONGMO.
The discussions were focused on the strategies to boost the 1325 NAP process in Cameroon.
After recalling the past initiatives taken in this regards by WILPF Cameroon, the Ministry of Women’s Empowerment and the Family with the support and UN Women Cameroon, Ms. NDONGMO explained the important role of the Gender Ministry in the process and promised full support from WILPF’s Peace Women Programme and the entire WILPF’s family to this process. She indicated that the current security challenges must be taken seriously and call for accelerated action on the Women Peace and Security agenda.
The Director thanked Mrs Ndongmo and indicated his strong appreciation of WILPF Cameroon’s approach and expressed his full readiness to support the process. He even pointed out that we would have avoided many security problems that Cameroon is facing today, had we engaged this process earlier. Based on the principle, “Better late than never”, the two sides agreed to meet in the coming days to consolidate a strategy to effectively conduct this process in Cameroon.
IMPLEMENTATION OF ATT PROJECT
The project of reducing GBV through popularisation of the ATT and the UNPoA is going on involving more actors who are likely to advocate for ratification of the treaty and contribute to effectively reduce women suffering. After the CSP 1, we organised a workshop to inform the civil society and the government officials in the East region on the ATT and the UNPoA. Prior to that event, information letters on the overall project were sent to key ministries: the Ministry of Women Empowerment and Family, the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Decentralisation.
Before coming back to the workshop itself, here is a brief summary of WILPF Cameroon’s participation at the capacity building meeting on the ATT during the CSP 1.
The first Conference of States Parties to the ATT (CPS1) took place in Cancun, México, on 24-27 August 2015. WILPF International and WILPF Sweden, to which we express our gratitude, supported WILPF Cameroon’s participation. Guy Blaise Dongmo Feugap, WILPF’s Cameroon Communication person and in charge of the project, represented the section.
On August 22nd, we took part in the meeting, along with other WILPF Section and the Reaching Critical Will team. First, the Treaty was commented, in order to facilitate its understanding and the implementation of the project. The main points on which WILPF’s work and the project rely were underlined. As stated for example in Article 1 of the Treaty, its purpose is contribute to international and regional peace, security and stability, and reduce human suffering. Another important point is the Article 7 (4), which makes the link between the ATT and armed GBV. It is a provision that prescribes more effective protection of women, children, human rights and prevention of armed violence. By conducting risk assessment processes for the export and import of weapons, the States are obliged to take into account legislative and normative factors around GBV in the recipient countries.
During the second part of the meeting, we went through the implementation of the project in our respective sections, in order to come out with suggestions and recommendations for the next steps. In Cameroon, the research on legal national and regional instruments related to the arms trade was almost concluded. The existing practices of armed gender-based violence were also identified, as well as legislation on GBV. The immediate activities on the project were: meeting the official delegation and other CSO’s of Cameroon during the CSP1, participate in side events, whose reports will be published later.
Back to Cameroon on August 30, we held a meeting in Yaoundé with WILPF Cameroon’s President and the members of the centre branch. After presenting a report on the CSP 1, we planned the future activities to complete the implementation of the project, namely the workshop on information of CSO’s on the ATT and the UNPoA to be held in Bertoua, and the visit of a refugee site.
CELEBRATION OF THE INTERNATIONAL PEACE DAY
On the occasion of the International Peace Day 2015, WILPF Cameroon visited the refugee site of Gado and the Garoua Boulaï council, on September 21, to provide moral support to those who suffer from the consequences of conflicts in their country, Central African Republic. The visit of the site was coordinated by FEPLEM (Association of Women promoting Moral Leadership), our partner who is implementing the project of psychosocial and medical care for victims and survivors of GBV with UN women’s financial support.
Upon arrival at the site, we had a meeting with the coordinators of UN Women and FEPLEM, who presented the overall activities carried out by humanitarian organisations and CSOs under the supervision of UNHCR. On this site there are over 24,000 people most of whom are women and girls.
The women cohesion area was the setting prepared for communicating with the refugees. In this space, there were about 100 people from which 90 per cent were women and girls, a figure that kept increasing as the communication was going on.
Sylvie Jacqueline Ndongmo, President of WILPF Cameroon, took the floor first to present the organisation as well as the purpose of their visit. She explained that they came to express their solidarity with the refugees and have an educational peace talk on the following points: Pacific social cohesion; Non violence; How to build partnerships for peace and the role of women in peace processes (SCR 1325).
In her speech, she emphasised that peace should not only be a word, but a practice of daily life for everyone. Everybody should endeavour to promote it and not consider it a problem concerning only authorities and humanitarian agencies. The theme of the day, “Partnerships for Peace: Dignity for All” enabled WILPF Cameroon’s president to remind everyone that the refugees and other people have the right to a peaceful life, and being in a site does not mean they should stop working for peace. She then recommended that refugees collaborate among themselves, with the humanitarian organisations on the site, and the government officials who visit them to promote peace. She advised them to follow some simple rules such as respect among themselves and of host population, solidarity, justice, non-violent communication, which are few basis on which peace can be build in an environment rocked by huge difficulties of integration.
Afterwards the President, the General Secretary of WILPF Cameroon, Nathalie Wokam Foko, coordinated exchanges with the refugees through a question and answer session. Some questions asked to refugees were ‘What is peace for you?’, ‘How can you promote it daily?’, and ‘Do you think women have a role to play in peace processes?’ WILPF Cameroon was amazed by the answers received from the refugees. They spontaneously associated peace to justice, no weapons, solidarity, respect, mutual support, justice, non-violence, access to basic necessities, security, the cessation of conflict.
At the end of the visit, WILPF Cameroon’s team shared some gifts made of household soap and detergents to refugees. We ended the educational talk with words of hope and encouragement to them and others living in extremely difficult conditions.
A delegate of the refugee took the floor and thanked WILPF Cameroon for the visit, the lessons learned, the gifts, the advice and moral support they badly need. She also indicated some challenges faced by refugees on daily basis.
During the visit, WILPF Cameroon Communication officer, Guy Dongmo Feugap, organised audiences between WILPF Cameroon members with some refugees’ women representatives, for WILPF Cameroon to get the sense of some challenges faced by women and girls and refugees in general in the site. The main difficulty raised was the economic dependence of women, as very few of them engage in income generating activities. This creates enormous frustration and violence. We noted that many women strongly like to have private space to share their problems, thus the need for a counselling centre suited to their specific needs. Many cases of violence are often experienced, including domestic violence, rape, early and forced marriages and sexual harassment. The women refugees also reported cases of armed violence mainly with the use of knives and wood.
WILPF Cameroon noted that the refugees’ interaction with host populations remains a serious problem and a threat to peace. We understood the urgent need to improve sensitisation and education on the culture of peace and non violence.
WILPF Cameroon also took the opportunity of their presence on the site to visit some humanitarian organisations working on the site to support refugees. These were CARE, World Food Programme, UNICEF, and The Lutheran World Federation. They were very grateful as many had forgotten that this day was International Peace Day. WILPF Cameroon’s team equally shared with them on the need to include peace talks in all activities with refugees.
International Peace Day by the WILPF Cameroon Branch of the West Region
A round Table Discussion on Peace as a tool for future Sustainable development with the objective: Sensitize the youths on the importance of peace as a tool for future sustainable development took place in the hall of the “Ligue des droits de l’homme” in Bafoussam. Forty youths of the ages twelve to twenty five participated. They were introduced to the key world actors of peace like, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi and Rosa Parks.
Participants were asked to write a phrase or a word what peace meant to them. The participant was introduced to the various peace symbols in the cultural domain. The program started at 4:30 p.m. and ended at 7 p.m. Each child went home with a picture of the world peace leaders and the traditional symbol of peace.
WORKSHOP OF INFORMATION OF CSOs ON THE ATT AND THE UNPoA
WILPF Cameroon’s workshop on information and awareness of CSOs on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) and the United Nations Programme of Action on Small Arms (UNPoA) was held on September 22, 2015 in Bertoua. The participants were: a dozen of Civil Society Organizations from several parts of the country, administrative authorities including the Departmental Delegate of the Ministry of Women Empowerment and Family, the Divisional Officer of the LOM and Djerem Department, represented by its first Deputy; and the UN Women Coordinator for East and Adamawa Regions.
This workshop aimed to inform civil society on the ATT, to advocate for its ratification by the State of Cameroon and find ways to prevent and reduce GBV caused by misuse of weapons.
Three presentations were made:
- The presentation of the ATT project and the objectives of the workshop by Sylvie Jacqueline Ndongmo, President of WILPF Cameroon;
- Types of GBV and existing practices of preventing GBV: what links with the ATT and the PoA? – By Jean Paul Dargal, UN Women Regional Coordinator;
- The ATT and the UNPoA to prevent and reduce GBV: by Guy Blaise Feugap, Communicator of WILPF Cameroon and project manager, who took part in the CSP1 in Mexico.
Participants discussed the importance of this treaty and the PoA for human security, and affirmed the need to implement these legal instruments and mechanisms by the government to eradicate the illicit flow of weapons and reduce GBV.
The exchanges led to the following recommendations:
Recommendations to the State:
- Ratify the ATT by the State of Cameroon
- Strengthening security at borders
- Organise convoys of weapons shipments in transit in Cameroon
- Tighten the customs control measures for weapons in transit
- Line up interventions between different administrative, security, customs and political actors
- Ensure the legality of the holders of conventional weapons
- Reduce military spending in favor of education and development projects
- Training and information about ATT and PoA with the expertise of WILPF Cameroon
- Raising awareness on the proliferation of weapons, on the ATT and the PoA with populations
- Strengthen the coalition of CSOs for advocacy on the ATT with the State (local / regional and national level) based on local Deputies and Senators.
LOBBY VISITS IN THE EASTERN REGION
- Urban council Garoua Boulai
We had a working meeting with the Mayor of the town of Garoua Boulaï after the visit of the refugee site. Garoua Boulaï is the door to Cameroon from CAR. This city is experiencing major security and governance challenges, with the number of Central African Republic citizens higher that Cameroonians. Crime is common practice for boys, while girls give themselves to prostitution. For the first deputy mayor of the council, education and awareness are weapons to overcome this insecurity, and civil society has an important role to play, that of working with the authorities in this regard.
- Regional delegation of the Ministry of Women Empowerment and Family
After the workshop in Bertoua, WILPF Cameroon team led by East focal point visited the Regional Delegate of the Ministry of Women Empowerment and Family. We discussed our activities, insisting on the projects carried on R.1325 and the ATT. The support awaited from this ministry is that it should be our reference point in the Government. The visit ended with an exchange of documents: we received a document on national and regional legal instruments on GBV.
- UN Women coordinator office
The UN Women coordinator for East and Adamawa regions, who was present at the workshop, received us in his office in Bertoua. He congratulated us on the work WILPF Cameroon is doing and that significantly contributes in building peace and engaging women in crisis management and self-empowerment. WILPF Cameroon’s President seized the opportunity to renew the request to UN Women Cameroon, that of supporting our R.1325 NAP process.
- Publication of Messages of peace on the occasion of International Day of Peace in English and French;
- Invitation of WILPF Cameroon’s President on a TV Programme on September 19th to communicate on the theme of the year and talk about WILPF’s work in promoting peace;
- Mass celebration at WILPF Cameroon’s Office on September 24th, praying for Peace in Cameroon and Peace in the World. The celebration was attended by WILPF members and some partner organisations;
- Production of 2nd edition of WILPF Cameroon’s News.
- Planning of a strategy meeting on the second week of October with identified womens’ organisations to discuss adequate strategies to follow the lobby and advocacy for 1325 NAP;
- Starting media campaign of “STOP TOY GUNS!” as suggested in Cancun during the presentation of WILPF Cameroon’s work on the ATT project. The campaign was officially launched during the workshop in Bertoua on the ATT and UNPoA. Key messages for the campaign are being conceived at this moment. We found that children are integrating in their mentality that the detention of a weapon is the only symbol of power, and killing has become fun.
OUR LOCAL PARTNERS
- UN Women Cameroon
- Ministry of Women Empowerment and Family
- Women’s Peace Initiatives
- FEPLEM (Association of Women promoting Moral Leadership)
- HEPROGES (Men Engaged for Promotion of Gender and Equality between Sexes)
- Youth For Peace
OUR FUNDING AND SUPPORT PARTNERS
- WILPF International
- WILPF Sweden
- WILPF’s PeaceWomen programme