Q: How long have you been involved with WILPF, and what first inspired you to join the movement?
A: Ten years ago, I got familiar with WILPF and its work at the AWID Forum in Istanbul, Turkey. While there, I visited WILPF’s stands and participated in workshops organised by WILPF. I was very impressed by the work WILPF had been doing worldwide to promote peace.
I was particularly intrigued by the cutting-edge research and data provided on conflict prevention and peacebuilding actions and requirements, militarism, peacekeeping operations, and countries’ military spending, which were most often disproportionate to their efforts to promote human rights and women’s rights in particular.
I was able to make a clear link between women’s rights and arms proliferation, and I was shocked to see how countries could vote enormous budgets for the acquisition of weapons to the detriment of other social and critical sectors such as education, health care, gender equality which are essential for the advancement of women.
Being aware of the situation in my country, Cameroon, which was already affected by conflicts with neighbouring countries, I felt a moral obligation to ensure that Cameroonian women would become more involved in this global quest for social justice. WILPF Cameroon was established in January 2014.
Q: What are you most looking forward to in your new role as President of the International Board?
A: My background as a WILPF Section Founder and President, as Regional Representative and an IB Member have allowed me to know the organisation and how it operates very well. Now that the members have believed in me and allowed me to lead the organisation for the next three years as President of the International Board, I wish to bring my modest contribution to the organisation’s growth.
I am very much looking forward to seeing WILPF members re-connect to the vision of our founding mothers outlined in the Manifesto; we all learn from each other in an open and inclusive space for experiences, sharing and learning. I wish we all commit to upholding our feminist values and take action to challenge systems and structures of oppression, promote inclusive and peaceful solutions to conflict, and strengthen feminist peace activism more than ever. I also sincerely hope that greater trust is rebuilt among members, that we overcome barriers and strengthen the enablers in our work, and that we look for the best and most efficient ways to work together in future.
My energy will also be geared towards ensuring more participation and increased visibility for the youths. I genuinely look forward to promoting intergenerational connections between the young and the older WILPF members to ensure continuity and uphold our cultural values.
Q: What does feminist peace mean to you?
A: Feminist peace is about respecting the UN principle ‘’Leave no one behind.’’ It means questioning the root causes of conflicts, the conflict drivers, identifying the fault lines in peace processes through proper gender conflict analysis etc.
It means acting locally to globally, building on everyone’s assets, and co-creating peace conditions with grassroots, feminist actors on the ground and the most marginalised groups and elites. At the centre of peacebuilding in the communities, I see grassroots activists, feminists and women’s civil society and any required actor acting to drive inclusion and meaningful participation of women in the processes that unfold around conflict prevention and peacebuilding, which to me is all about feminist peace.
To me, the feminist peace approach means acting from the insights and experiences of women, men, girls, and boys that explicitly renders visible the differential and gendered power structures and relations that often play out at the detrimental extreme during threats to peace. For instance, building peace requires a gender-centred approach to work closely with the lived experiences and contributions of everyone amid conflictual situations.
Some fundamental principles of feminist principles are inclusion, accountability, collaboration, self-care and care for others, challenging systems and structures of oppression, challenging the patriarchal system of oppression, and ensuring a holistic response to conflict.
Q: What do you see as the greatest challenge facing the feminist peace movement today?
A: The biggest challenge I see is the poor or non-consideration of this critical inclusive, and holistic approach in peace-building processes. The environment in which we operate is still very patriarchal, and inclusion is still lacking. Also, many women or groups are left behind and don’t know their role in these processes, don’t know how to get involved and have existential needs, such as lack of access to basic needs.
Q: Why should feminist peace activists and allies consider getting involved with WILPF?
A: WILPF is a grassroots feminist organisation known for its inclusiveness and conflict resolution based on addressing the root causes. It is a well-structured, century-old movement composed of National Groups and Sections, which include grassroots communities and critical players in the quest for peace and social justice.
Its bottom-up approach ensures that the voices of the most vulnerable are considered at the decision-making level through advocacy and a diverse network of partners.
WILPF is a leading organisation with a proven winning strategy and needs to be supported in this effort. Therefore, all feminist peace activists and allies are strongly encouraged to join this movement so that we together can contribute to a more just world.