Reach Out organizes prime Women’s Peace and Security Fair in Cameroon

Group photo of officials and participants at WPS Fair 

Women-led, non-profit Organisation, Reach Out Cameroon has organized the first-ever Women’s Peace and Security Fair in the country. 
The event which brought meaning to the peace-building work that the NGO, women, and other Civil Society Members are doing in Cameroon took place at the National Museum in Yaounde, this Wednesday, June 19, 2024.

The solemn event was attended by the Minister of Women’s Empowerment and the Family, Prof Marie Therese Abena Ondoua; Minister of Arts and Culture, Bidoung Kpwatt Pierre Ismael; the Canadian High Commission to Cameroon. H.E. Lorraine Anderson and UN Women Country Representative, Marie Pierre Raky Chaupin.

It was also attended by members of Diplomatic Missions and International Agencies, Members of Government and Women Peacebuilders, Human Rights Defenders, and Humanitarians.
The Executive Director of Reach Out Cameroon, Esther Omam Njomo explained that the event marked the celebration of the successful localization of peace hubs in four of Cameroon’s conflict-affected regions of the North West, South West, West, and Littoral. She added that it was also to build on the vital commitments taken during 14 peace tables held at Divisional, Regional, and National levels.

Reach out Executive Director, Esther Omam addressing the audience

The project is thanks to the unwavering support of Canada, through Global Affairs Canada.

The Women Peace and Security Fair (WPS Fair), and many other initiatives implemented by women peacebuilders, Omam explained, represent the “collective commitment and engagement to foster an inclusive environment where women’s voices are not only heard but are integral in shaping the peace and security landscape in Cameroon”.

She added that the localization of peace hubs strengthens communities, ensuring that solutions empower women and girls to take up leadership roles in decision-making structures and push back on all forms of violence against women and girls rooted in local realities and sustainable practices.

 “Our peace tables have provided a platform for meaningful dialogue, bridging divides and fostering understanding. They have highlighted the unique perspectives and invaluable contributions of women in peace-building efforts,” the Reach Out boss highlighted.

Esther Omam addressing guests at Reach Out stand during WPS fair

Talking to the press, the MINPROFF Boss, Prof Marie There Abena Ondoua highlighted that the project was very important and had to continue. “It is good that we have local appropriation and different levels in addition to the funding from the government of Canada,” she said, adding that “we appreciate the effort and commitment of the government of Canada in supporting this initiative, and we must stand behind Reach Out so that this can return to our beautiful country”.
Among its achievements, Reach Out Cameroon counts, 300 grassroots women from 30 peace hubs, in 40 conflict-affected communities who were transformed to champion the narrative of peace through dialogue in their respective communities.
These grassroots women, Omam pointed “are the unsung heroines, the invisible faces stabilizing communities through their relentless efforts”. She, however, urged them to continue supporting such initiatives, ensuring that they remain vibrant spaces for collaboration and change and “together, we can build a more peaceful, secure, equitable and inclusive future for all”.
On June 5, 2024, in Yaounde, MINPROFF in collaboration with UN Women and other stakeholders presented “Cameroon’s Second Action Plan for the implementation of the resolution 1325 coupled with the restitution of the work of the 68th session of the United Nations on the Status of Women (CSW68).
Through the WPS Fair, women leaders from the conflict-affected regions of the Far North, East, North West, and South West were brought together to commune and share best practices with their peers from the Center, West, Littoral, South, North, and Adamawa regions.
“We are honoured by the presence here today of diplomatic missions, INGOs, Institutional donors, Traditional rulers, Local Council authorities, Regional Assembly authorities, Organizations of Persons with Disabilities, IDP representatives, and our own very grassroots community peace hub leaders,” Esther Omam told guests.
“We must seize this opportunity to mark our names on the sands of time by building alliances, networks, and connections that will indeed give women the voices and spaces they deserve,” she told all those present.
Call to Action
The Executive Director of Reach Out Cameroon, Esther Omam urged all women leaders to collectively commit to advancing the Women, Peace, and Security Agenda “in its diversity, including its application to disaster risk reduction and eradication of all forms of violence against women and girls, especially conflict-related sexual violence”.
“We must engage women, men, and girls in our communities to be agents of change through dialogue because there is nothing as good as when two sisters or brothers come together to sort out their differences in a peaceful manner” she furthered.
“Let’s make today a step forward in our shared journey towards lasting peace and security in Cameroon” she concluded.

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