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Leading the Path to Peaceful Elections in Cameroon

On 7 October 2018, the Republic of Cameroon, a country in the middle of West and Central Africa, will hold presidential elections. As part of their efforts to prevent violence, in addition to a social campaign encouraging people to vote, WILPF Cameroon has established an election Call Centre with a toll free number.

Image credit: WILPF
WILPF International Secretariat
5 October 2018

On 7 October 2018, the Republic of Cameroon, a country in the middle of West and Central Africa, will hold presidential elections. Nine candidates were announced by the elections governing body early this year on 7 August 2018. Including incumbent president Paul Biya, who is running to serve his fourth seven year term as president.

The election comes at a time when the country is experiencing great tension from the English-speaking territories as politicians from the region have been advocating for greater decentralisation to allow more self-governance of the anglophone territories.

The country is torn as separatists in the English-speaking regions have attempted to create the state of Ambazonia. As a result, in November 2017, President Paul Biya declared war on the Anglophone separatists. Violence continues to spread in three regions of the country: the Far North, the Northwest and Southwest, which has resulted in displaced citizens escaping the violences.

This context throws a veil of instability over the current presidential election. Unfortunately violence during election periods is an all too familiar phenomenon in many African countries. Moreover, as is often the case, women and girls are among those most affected by the violence. Due to this, women in Africa developed the Women’s Situation Room (WSR) to help reduce violence during and after elections. Cameroon’s WSR has been an effective early warning tool for preventing conflict having reported a good number of incidents from communities.

The Women’s Situation Room

The Women’s Situation Room (WSR) is a peace building initiative developed to empower women to be leading forces for democratic and peaceful elections. Developed by African women out of a concern of the disproportionate effect violence has on women and girls, the WSR harnesses the expertise and experiences of women to reduce potential conflict and violence during and after elections. The initiative aims to empower women and youth to participate in direct peace and security efforts in their countries.

Elections Monitoring From the Phones

As part of their efforts to prevent violence, in addition to a social campaign encouraging people to vote, WILPF Cameroon has established an election Call Centre with a toll free number, operational from the 4 October to 8 October.

The Section has successfully gathered 30 women, trained as tele-operators, who are responding to phone calls from the field and reporting conflicts in a matrix during the election period. Additionally, the centre will also have two analysts, one an expert in electoral analysis, and two media specialists who will be in the room to support WILPF Cameroon with technical expertise.

WILPF Cameroon President, Sylvie Ndongmo emphasises that “the physical establishment of the call centre for five consecutive days is an important achievement. It enables the organisations members and partners to build their capacities in new areas including elections monitoring”.

Moreover, WILPF Cameroon is the only organisation in the country possessing a hotline number for elections monitoring. As part of this recognition, WILPF Cameroon were invited by the African Union Election Observation Mission to participate in a panel on 4 October 2018 to discuss their work on conflict prevention during elections. Additionally, WILPF Cameroon will speak with the International Francophonie Organisation on 6 October 2018 in regards to their election monitoring work so far.

If you wish to report incidents of conflict or violence in regions of Cameroon during and after the elections, the WILPF Cameroon Call Centre toll free number is 8243.

Follow along with the social campaign encouraging voting in peaceful elections by following WILPF Cameroon on Facebook and Women’s March Global on Twitter.

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WILPF International Secretariat

WILPF International Secretariat, with offices in Geneva and New York, liaises with the International Board and the National Sections and Groups for the implementation of WILPF International Programme, resolutions and policies as adopted by the International Congress. Under the direction of the Secretary-General, the Secretariat also provides support in areas of advocacy, communications, and financial operations.

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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