Why I March for Womens Rights

Zoneziwoh Mbondgulo-Wondieh was among the estimated 3.5 million who marched in one of the largest global mobilizations for women’s rights in history.

We will no longer keep quiet until every single woman in every single part of the world is free.

I march for myself. I march for my safety. I march to be a voice for change.

I march for the millions of women and girls who live under the worst forms of dictatorship and tyranny.

I march for those who are unable to freely exercise their constitutional and democratic rights to freedom of expression and choice.

I march because I am tired of hearing officials make promises in meetings and at events, only to see very little action taken to bring these promises to fruition.

I march because it is time to let everyone know that the world is failing at advancing women’s rights.

I march for the millions of women and human rights defenders who receive death threats, who are sentenced to jail, and who are killed for challenging dictatorial regimes and speaking up against injustice.

I march because, at the moment, my government is legalizing and normalizing State-sponsored violence, policing of women’s bodies, and the imprisonment of those who speak truth to power.

I march because it is my human and democratic right to march.

The Power in Protest

On January 21, I joined the Women’s March from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where I was attending the Gender is My Agenda Summit. While my participation was mostly virtual, I could feel the physical energy of the estimated 3.5 million women who stood up for the rights of women and girls from communities and neighborhoods across the globe.

It was an exhilarating experience to march alongside my global sisters.

There is a history of organized events in the global women’s movement. I think of Seneca Falls, where women gathered at the first women’s rights convention in 1848. Then, in 1975, the First World Conference on the Status of Women was held in Mexico City. More recently, we saw the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995.

Those events were momentous. January’s event will prove to be momentous too. Reports estimated that 31,000 women participated at Beijing. January’s Women’s March, some 20+ years later, saw more than 3 million protesters march against gender injustice.

To be sure, our sheer numbers on January 21 made it clear that it is not acceptable for government officials to relax commitments to gender justice.

We Will Not Relax Until All Women Are Free

By now, I should hope world leaders are revisiting their commitments to advancing women’s issues. Most importantly, I hope they are rethinking their stances on women’s sexual and reproductive choices and decisions.

May governments hence be aware that we will no longer keep quiet until every single woman in every single part of the world is free.

Governments and leaders with the power to influence change will continue to have their closed-door meetings and conferences. But they must know that we will continue to hold massive public marches on a global scale to stand up against anyone who dares to devalue and disrespect women and our rights.

And me? I will continue to march because I believe in the power of WOMEN.

First published on Word Pulse

Read More

Cameroon women’s rights activists call on the government to respect young peoples’ rights and freedom of expression

Within the past weeks, we have witnessed and seen rising challenges for human rights in Buea and Bamenda, on young women and men, pupils, students and the general populace, including intimidation, police/military brutality, arbitrary detention, physical attacks, hate speeches perpetuated by the states against its own citizens whom it owes as duty to protect and safeguard.

As feminists, women’s rights and gender equality advocates, we strongly condemn in the strongest terms the gross human rights violation, inhumane treatment, arbitrary arrest and systematic torture and humiliation of hundreds of female students and young women across the two English-speaking regions of Cameroon.

We strongly condemn any act of such and would like to call on the government to realise that at a time when the world at large is celebrating the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence, particularly violence against women, no one was [is] to experience any forms of violence – directly or indirectly, given Cameroon’s  engagement and active partisan , through the Ministry of Women’s Empowerment and the Family (MINWEF/ MINPROFF) in every year’s 16days of activism.

Endorse this statement now

Cameroon women’s rights activists call on the government to respect young peoples’ rights and freedom of expression

  

Full Statement to be submitted to all relevant government officials:

Within the past weeks, we have witnessed and seen rising challenges for human rights in Buea and Bamenda, on young women and men, pupils, students and the general populace, including intimidation, police/military brutality, arbitrary detention, physical attacks, hate speeches perpetuated by the states against its own citizens whom it owes as duty to protect and safeguard.

As feminists, women’s rights and gender equality advocates, we strongly condemn in the strongest terms the gross human rights violation, inhumane treatment, arbitrary arrest and systematic torture and humiliation of hundreds of female students and young women across the two English-speaking regions of Cameroon.

We strongly condemn any act of such and would like to call on the government to realise that at a time when the world at large is celebrating the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence, particularly violence against women, no one was [is] to experience any forms of violence – directly or indirectly, given Cameroon’s engagement and active partisan , through the Ministry of Women’s Empowerment and the Family (MINWEF/ MINPROFF) in every year’s 16days of activism.

We, therefore urge the Cameroon authorities to recommit to its commitments to the International Human Rights treaties, such as; the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (2003), the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (2005), the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (1984); under which Cameroon has assumed international obligations to respect, protect and ensure that citizens’ human rights are fully respected and protected, and that citizens rights to freedom of expression and peaceful demonstration will not subject them to torture, humiliation and death.

We demand the government to end the culture of impunity for crimes perpetrated by state military and police and equally call on the government of Cameroon to ensure justice is served to the victims of the recent police brutality.

We demand that the government cover all medical charges and bills incurred by the students who were brutalised by the police and military, including the cost of lost and damaged properties.

We also demand a fair trial to the victims, as well as an apology to the victims, their families and the general public.

We ask that hence no one should ever be treated without respect, equality, dignity and integrity.

In totality, we condemn any injustices, all forms of violence, torture, and abuse created [ever created] by the system against its own people.

We believe that we cannot grow as a nation and a society towards emergence by 2035 when people’s rights are constantly obstructed with violence and abuses by the system.

Signatories

Zoneziwoh Mbondgulo-Wondieh, Wfac Cameroon | Christelle Bay, Hofna Cameroon | Yuo Foy Immaculate, MSc. WGS | Mba Madapeu, Feminist | Regina Ndip Ako Zama, MSc. WGS | Nancy Makeoh Mafor, Wfac Cameroon | Shatu Nadabou Sule, Entrepreneur | Hellen Kasila, MSc. WGS | Andoh Reine Agnou, Wfac Cameroon | Ikome Ndive, Jemea, Our Voice | Kame Hannah Liengu, Human Rights Activist | Ngwainmbi Maxceline Nkain, MSc. WGS | Esong Eleanor Ntube, MSc. WGS | Epie Noella, MSc. WGS | Auriella Endeley, Gender Specialist | Buhven Claris Suinyuy, MSc. WGS | Eponle Usoh Sylvie, Peace Activist| Cecilia Elokobi Arrey, MSc. WGS | Njenu Veronica, Women’s Human Rights Activist | Leonie Yanke, Women’s Human Rights Activist | Agbor Rita, MSc. WGS

Endorse this statement now

**your signature**

39 signatures

Share this with your friends:

   

Re-advertisement: Apply to become a Wfac CSE seminar facilitator

Now accepting applications for CSE facilitators!!!

deadline: rolling

Locations: Buea and Douala (we are still making negotiations to reach the other cities across the country)

As part of Wfac community outreach programs in school, Wfac is currently hosting a weekly CSE program in some 10 colleges across the southwest region of Cameroon. And we know that you are passionate about championing youth issues and rights, particularly youth SRHR. That’s why we are inviting you to become part of this privilege network of young brilliant actors working for change and empowerment in this country.The Wfac CSE Seminar facilitator can be a teacher, student, graduate and passionate youth champion like you, committed and dedicated to impact and transform many young peoples’ lives. CSE Seminar facilitator represent a broad diversity and socio-cultural backgrounds and are at least 20 years old.

Requirements

Every academic year, Wfac recruits 10 young people to serve as its CSE Seminar facilitators. Each CSE facilitator is expected to deliver the following to ensure the success of the CSE College programs;

• Available to dedicate 1-3 hours per week (especially on Wednesdays) to the CSE outreach program

• Attend group calls on average once a month

• Report weekly to the progress of the CSE seminar in schools

• Mobilise and organise seminar sessions/trainings to at least 100 college students per school

A facilitator will work closely with a staff from Wfac to effectively organise and conduct the weekly CSE seminars in a school that will be assigned to them. A facilitator will be provided with a seminar module, training materials and other relevant documentations needed to ensure the smooth flow of their training/seminar facilitation in the college. At the end of each seminar, a facilitator is expected to send reports in writing with photos attached and other relevant documentation.

Please note that this is an unpaid, voluntary role. However, transportation cost will be reimbursed. More so, this is an opportunity that may result in a long-term paid position.

Benefits

Besides benefiting from the one-on-onE coaching and mentoring /support received from Women for a Change, Cameroon, a facilitator will have a range of exciting benefits and opportunities. These include but not limited to:

    • Building their skills and capacities in facilitating seminar/workshops sessions,
    • Working with a diverse group of college students across the country,
    • Meeting and exchanging unique perspectives with young people
    • Having the opportunity to build their capacity and skills around public speaking, advocacy, and social activism
    • Expanding and building [new] social networking relationships with youth leaders and other young people
    • Improving their leadership skills and development particularly in the area of SRHR peer education
    • Maybe recruited as a full-time staff upon performance satisfactory

NB: A certificate of Service to be issued at the end of the service, following effective performance.

Send an email with a Cover Letter and a recent CV/Resume. Only completed applications will be considered
  • A Cover letter (maximum 2 page)
  • A recent curriculum vita (maximum 2 page) + 2 referral contact address
Writing style: Font type: Times New Roman. Font Size: 12. Spacing:1.5.
Submit your documents as an attachment to director@wfaccameroon.org and copy the following emails: emmanuel.nm.official@gmail.com / admin@wfaccameroon.org
E.g.: candidate named Mafo Neh would have her files as:
– coverletterNEH
-cvNEH
Application deadline: on-going
Any incomplete application OR not being able to respect the application guidelines will result to disqualification.

“This Made Me Courageous” Girls Find Their Voices in Cameroon

Victorine, is from a small, farming village in northwest Cameroon. Few girls there go to school, and those who do are usually pulled out before they graduate and are married off before they turn 18. But Victorine has different plans for her future. She wants to be a lawyer.

Victorine is part of a club run by Women for a Change Cameroon, an organization that empowers girls and young women. The club was started three years ago so that girls—and some boys—could get information about their sexual and reproductive health and rights. Victorine has been a part of the club from the beginning and is now one of its leaders. IWHC staff recently visited the club and saw firsthand the impact these initiatives are having on the lives of girls and young women. They advised the club’s leaders and facilitators on their comprehensive sexuality education lessons.

For many of the girls, participating in the Women for a Change club and workshop is the first time they hear about human rights, especially their right to control what happens with their own body and their sexuality and reproduction. “Women for a Change has built me up and taught me almost everything I know today about my right as a girl,” said Victorine.

They learn not only about biology and the basics of sex education, but also about harmful gender norms that may threaten their health and safety. During a discussion of the attitudes of men and boys in her community, Victorine asserted, “We have to change their mentality.” Not only is child marriage common in this region, but other forms of violence against women and girls are as well. When one participant commented that a girl should be careful about what she wears, to avoid harassment and abuse by men, Victorine objected. “It is not what women wear that causes rape. Even women who are covered are attacked.”

Importantly, Victorine and other girls are learning to speak up and out. They are learning to question the status quo. One participant declared, “Women and girls should not be confined to the bedroom or the kitchen!” Some have dreams, like Victorine, to continue school and go to university. They are gaining confidence by participating in club, and the boys now respect their rights more.

The effects are felt beyond the club. Victorine goes out into surrounding communities to sensitize them to the rights of girls. Sometimes she is speaking to crowds made up of mostly men and boys, but she is not afraid. No doubt, she is winning over some of them. But her main audience is the other girls and young women.

She has a message for them: “I want them to know they have a voice.”

First published by the International Women’s Health Coalition

“I’ll tell you what we want, what we really, really want”

Pictured from left to right: Erin Williams, IWHC Program Officer; Nancy Makeoh, Women for a Change (WFAC) Community Outreach Manager; Marielle Coutrix, IWHC Program Assistant; and Catherine Ndumbe, WFAC Community Outreach Volunteer

By Erin Williams / International Women’s Health Coalition

You don’t have to look too hard to find girls in Cameroon taking the famous words of the Spice Girls to heart. On a recent trip to the country, we met girls who were passionate young leaders, not afraid to voice their opinions and fight for their rights. The quote emblazoned on the t-shirt of Nancy Makeoh, Community Outreach Manager for the local organization Women for a Change Cameroon (WFAC), says it all:
If it involves feminism, social justice or equality, count me in!

WFAC is helping to empower girls through a club started three years ago at Summerset Bilingual College, a public secondary school, so that girls could get information about their sexual and reproductive health and rights. Because schools in Cameroon are not currently providing high-quality comprehensive sexuality education, WFAC is filling the gap. The club consists of 20 students, mainly girls between the ages of 12 and 19, and focuses on discussions of gender and sexuality.

Nancy’s sister, Victorine, is 16 and has been a member from the beginning and is now one of the club leaders. She and Nancy are laying the foundation of a new generation: a generation of confident, informed, and educated girls. These girls and others like them refuse to settle for traditional roles. They see themselves actively partaking in their communities and their countries, and as a result, the boys in their communities now know what to expect.

When we visited the school, we saw firsthand the effects the club is having on the lives of girls. When one girl mentioned that clothing can cause men to sexually harass them, it was Victorine who objected. In a way normally reserved for adults, she calmly challenged her classmate noting that “violence happens because of men’s mentality, not what women wear.” She affirmed that to promote gender equality you have to address the root cause of discrimination.“It’s all about changing men’s mindsets,” she explained.

For many of the girls, participating in a club like this is the very first time they hear about gender norms and human rights, especially their right to control what happens with their own body. “Women for a Change has built me up and taught me almost everything I know today about my rights as a girl,” said Victorine.

The club teaches its members not only about biology and the basics of sex education, but also about harmful gender norms that threaten their health and safety. WFAC has strengthened the girls’ capacity to question the status quo and acquire the skills they need to negotiate their rights with parents, friends, and partners alike.

Victorine and other girls are creating spaces for themselves and others to speak up and out. When asked, they will tell you loud and clear what they want. They want to continue school, to go to university, and have meaningful careers. They want to marry the partners of their choice and choose when and how many children they want to have. And they are spreading this message. Victorine now goes out into surrounding communities to sensitize community members to the rights of girls. Sometimes she is speaking to crowds made up of mostly men and boys, but she told us she is not afraid.

The club gives these young leaders the resources and information they need to foster change and convince others of the harms of child and early marriage—in a part of the world where 39 percent of girls are married by age 18. But their work doesn’t just focus on this one objective, delaying marriage. They seek to empower girls overall, so that when girls turn 18 they don’t face the same risks they did when they were 14. Rights-based programs are key to transforming girls’ lives by building their self-efficacy—so they can make informed decisions for the rest of their lives.

We left Cameroon with a renewed sense of energy and urgency, in particular to expand access to rights-based programs that provide sexuality education and empower girls. This year, WFAC is planning to expand the club program to seven other secondary schools and add additional sexual rights content, a sure sign that the movement for girls’ rights and sexual and reproductive health is building and going strong.

First Published: International Women’s Health Coalition

WFAC Cameroon film about #AbortionStigma chosen for festival.

A new animated video by Women for a Change, Cameroon, has been selected to be shown at the ArtCity Short Film Festival in Buea, Cameroon and will be aired on Oct 4 – 8th.

In this 2 and a half minute animated video, based on true-life experiences, Women for a Change, Cameroon captures the voices and personal stories of some 3 women speaking out against the silence, myths and stigma of abortion.

The documentary will be aired on Oct 4 – 8th.

 

“Everyone has the right to quality reproductive healthcare services and facilities.
This is enshrined in the United Nations #UDHR, #ICPD_PoA, #MaputoProtocol, including the country’s Constitution.
Yet, women & girls access to these rights, particularly their access to safe abortion, are often faced with barriers, legally and or socio-culturally.
Leaving women/girls who chose to terminate a pregnancy either due to economic crisis, sexual violence, health and poverty, with little options but rather to sought ‘back-door’ means which often is unsafe and lethal.”

Wfac Magazine launched succesfully

On September 23rd, the Vice Chancellor of University of Buea, Professor Nalova Lyonga,  was joined by INGOs/NGOs representatives, government officials, human rights/gender activists, the press/media, young people, students, women and men to celebrate the launch of Wfac magazine.

The audience heard the vice-chancellor of Buea University talk about the need to end violence against women.

“Every woman has a unique story. Through Wfac Magazine, some of these stories have been amplified […] this must not stop because there are many more untold stories of great women which must be heard!”
Prof. Nalova Lyonga, Vice Chancellor University of Buea

Professor Joyce Endeley, from the Department of Gender Studies at the University of Buea, spoke about the need to address violence aganst women.

“Violence is unacceptable and the game of blaming and labelling women/girls is over”

“The application and sanctioning against infringement of policy, laws and social norms on gender-based violence, combined with good research of the subject and education of the public from a gender perspective are the key strategies for the eradication of GBV.”
Prof. Joyce .M. Endeley, Gender Studies, University of Buea

The ceremony continued with a Panel Discussion moderated and led by three remarkable women who shared their experiences. Which encouraged many others in the audience to do likewise.

“Expressing voices and rights is no justification for social structures and patriarchy to promote, support and maintain violence on females.”
Prof. Joyce .M. Endeley, Gender Studies, University of Buea

The magazine, which has the theme ‘Our Voices, Our Struggles and Our Stories, is part of the work by WFAC Cameroon to raise awareness of issues relating to gender violence and patriarchy. And to show how women can become empowered by speaking out.

Executive director of WFAC, Zoneziwoh Mbondgulo-Wondieh, said about the launch..

“Inasmuch as I am sometimes scared of surprises”  “I must admit that I loved what happened at the launch. It was just superb especially when everyone started presenting their #MyVoiceMYStory experience – one which was initially not included as part of the agenda”

Wfac magazine first edition

Copies of the Wfac Magazine are now available.
To order a copy
email admin@wfaccameroon.org
Or whatsApp 677150924 / 678376330