First National Women’s Convention for Peace in Cameroon concluded
The call for peace was done on the symbolic date of 31st July, also the day of the African woman.
The peace call and the convention are the results of six months of planning and brainstorming for the first-ever National Women's convention for Peace in Cameroon held from July 29-31, 2021 in Yaounde.
To ensure inclusiveness, the call was read in 4 languages: French, Fufuldei (a language common in the northern regions of Cameroon), pidgin (creole linga-franca) and in the English language.
IAWRT Cameroon President Becky Bissong read the English version of the call as National Coordinator of the Cameroon Association of Women in Media- one of the 38 women-led Civil society organizations that spearheaded the initiative and planned for the event under the auspices of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation Cameroon.
Women’s call for peace in Cameroon
We, Women of Cameroon, are longing for peace.
We have come together for the First-Ever National Women’s Convention for Peace in Cameroon – many hearts, beating as one.
As women, women we have buried our husbands and fathers, our brothers and uncles, our sisters and daughters; we have bandaged the wounds of our sons; wept and comforted our daughters who have been raped and battered, and saved them from being used as human bombs.
We hid in bushes, suffered the cold, starved for days as we ran away from guns and killings. We have been cruelly deprived of everything including our dignity as our tears fall on hardened soil while we watch our children and grandchildren as they loiter at home, unable to go to school.
But, according to an African proverb, “When women move forward, the world moves with them.”
And so, women from every corner of Cameroon and every group of society join their voices in this united “Women’s Call for Peace”: women peace activists, displaced women and girls, victims and survivors of war-related violence, female traditional and religious leaders, female soldiers and sportswomen, women entrepreneurs, domestic workers, bayam sellam women, women from civil society, trade unions, political parties and many more.
We have come together as mothers and grandmothers, wives and companions, sisters and daughters - together, we build an alliance of good will that is stronger, louder and in greater numbers than those people who profit from war and conflicts.
It is true that women pay a disproportionately heavy price in armed conflicts every day around the world. But we have also shown that we can overcome these difficult challenges with strong determination, loud voices and firm actions.
Women are the glue that holds society together, here in Cameroon and across the world – we have a sacred duty to link individuals and bind communities together. And so we have come with an unwavering commitment to bring peace to the country we love and to make it a better place for ourselves and our children.
Cameroonian women can and should play a leading role in building, negotiating and defending peace.
We applaud and pledge our support for all the peace efforts undertaken by government and all its partners in Cameroon and abroad, including civil society. Speaking with one voice and with our eyes firmly fixed on the objective of Peace, we call on all key stakeholders to the conflicts to undertake concrete and immediate actions to:
- End hostilities, immediately and permanently, and thus give meaning to African Union’s campaign to ‘Silence the Guns’ in Africa in order to achieve a conflict-free Africa, prevent genocide, make peace a reality for all and rid the continent of wars, violent conflicts, human rights violations, and humanitarian disasters;
- Pursue a continued and inclusive dialogue that addresses core issues around Peace, Solidarity and shared Humanity in Cameroon;
- Ensure the equal and permanent involvement of Women peace mediators and negotiators in peace processes at all levels, while enforcing their protection at all times, according to the four pillars of the UN Resolution 1325;
- Create additional and reinforce the existing centres for psychosocial support and trauma-healing;
- Render the existing DDR centres functional and responsive to the existing conflicts.
We affirm our total commitment to work for the return and consolidation of peace within our respective families and communities.
We appeal to our sisters, husbands, brothers, and sons to join us in this patriotic commitment.
This is the price of our common future and that of our children.
Photos from the convention from Becky Bissong