Advocacy is not just about being present in meetings

Last week,  September 4, 2018,  Wfac gShe facilitator Ms. Donkeng Vanessa participated at a national strategy meeting and working session on youth participation and inputs in the development of the National Strategic Plan to fight against AIDS 2018 – 2022.  Organized by the Ministry of Health (MINSANTE) through the National Aids Control Committee (CNLS), in collaboration with UNAIDS.  Also present were representatives from government ministries like the Ministry of Youth (Minjec), representatives from international and national organizations including youth-led and women’s-led organizations.

Ms. Donkeng rapporteuring for the CNLP-UNAIDS meeting

As a young feminist advocacy organization who have continually advocated for more young people, women, and girls in such spaces, it was somewhat encouraging to observe that over 60% of the participants at this meeting were all young. A representation we found worthwhile, though we know it is just not about being present in meetings but being able to contribute and engage meaningfully in developing and informing decisions on those issues that matter most to young people. A journey Wfac has led and continues to lead to ensure that more young people, women, and girls get a seat at the table of decision making to ensure that their rights are safeguarded and met.

Human rights defenders in Cameroon call on all to Commit to gender equality principles

With the continuous violence and need for humanitarian interventions in the English speaking regions of Cameroon, notably the Northwest and southwest regions, there could not be any better time to call for all to commit to gender equality than now.

“Every single individual has a key role to play in making gender equality and justice a reality in Cameroon,” says Wfac ED, Ms Zoneziwoh Mbondgulo-Wondieh

June 20 – 21, 2018 – Buea, Cameroon, over 100 WHRDs across the country, including youth activists and champions for gender equality gathered at the Pan-Afrique Institute to discuss on the state of gender-based violence (GBV) including the rising GBV incidences across the two conflict-affected regions of the country. Together they proposed a couple of practical solutions and the best ways to contribute in ensuring gender equality principles and values are upheld in the country.

Among some of the actions suggested included but not limited to the establishment of a National GBV coordination mechanism and cluster, who will regularly meet to assess the state of women and girls in the communities including those affected by the armed violence. There were also proposals on initiating a gender-based violence minimum package of prevention and response which consists of four core services. This include:

1) A first-line response service, an open line always such as the ops4women app, available, and accessible to offer referrals services to victims and GBV survivors identified and in need of assistance;
2) A clinic service, to provide rapid and emergency medical services including mental health screening, emergency contraceptives, and post prophylaxis as well as the medical treatment of GBV cases;
3) Social support services, to provide psychosocial counselling to survivors and GBV victims;
4) A justice service, to ensure victims and all persons affected by GBV get justice.

Organised by Lukmef and partners, Women for a Change, community outreach manager Nancy Makeoh Mafor participated at the two-day summit on the National CSO Forum on GBV in Cameroon. The workshop which according to the organizer Mr Christian Tanyi is CSO-led draws on participation from a broad sphere of works including those from the private sectors, religious groups as well as traditional and community leaders.

Written by Nancy Makeoh Mafor

Standing with Internally displaced women and girls from South west and North west regions of Cameroon

As violence continues to consume the regions of north-west and south-west, young people, women and girls are forced to flee and be displaced from their homes, communities, and cities to a much more presumedly safer communities. The crisis which began in 2016 has over the years, according to records from the United Nations, witnessed over 200000 persons internally displaced and or become refugees in neighbouring Nigeria. A displacement which has left many with limited resources and money to cater for their needs including feeding, shelter, clothes, and medication.

In an effort to respond to the on-going humanitarian situation in the anglophone parts of the country, June 21, 2018 – members of Women for a Change, Cameroon (Wfac) together with SNWOT (South West and North West Women Task Force), a group of over twenty women human rights defenders and leaders from the English-speaking parts of Cameroon paid a solidarity visit to one of the communities at Muea which is said to harbour over 20 internally displaced families, women and girls included, providing them with humanitarian supports such as food, essential medication, kitchen kits and among others.

As explained by a member of SNWOT, “Today’s visit is to share in the pain and grief of all the persons displaced, women and girls as a result of the ongoing violence in the SW and NW regions of Cameroon”.

The sad ordeal of one female IDP

“I was in Ekondo when I heard that the military was descending down on us, I thought of running to the neighbouring village but on reaching there, I realized that it has been turned into the military based[…]. As a result of fear, not to be arrested, I entered the bush where I stayed for a couple of days before finally trekking to Muea” said an internally displaced lady.

Like this lady, this is a similar fate of hundreds of thousands of persons, women, and girls living in the Northwest and southwest regions of Cameroon. An experience no human should ever faced. Together with SNWOT, Wfac will continue to stand with all the women and girls internally displaced in the SW and NW until the day when no person, woman or girl will ever have to be forcefully displaced for fear of insecurity. We will continue to stand with the women till peace reigns in these two regions.

 

Mobility of Youth Workers: Wfac at the Ghana Permaculture Institute

June 10 – 20, 2018, Wfac Volunteer Manager and CSE Facilitator, Ndabombi Emmanuel and Armstrong Bobvala represented Women for a Change, at the second Phase of the 22-month partnership project on Sustainable Foundations for Sustainable Partnerships in Techiman, Ghana. Drawing from the “Kick-off” meeting which took place in Germany in May 2018, this project has eight partners from Germany, Malawi, Kenya, Ghana, and Cameroon. Sponsored by the EU Erasmus with the aim of strengthening the capacities of all partner organizations in implementing sustainable volunteering possibilities for young people from Africa and Europe by volunteering abroad.

Given that at Wfac, volunteerism is core to the work we do – and as an institution, grounded in feminist principles, we are constantly making conscious decisions to provide our volunteers with necessary professional development opportunities both at home and abroad to build their knowledge, capabilities, and skills needed to move towards career goals. As such the training on permaculture provided Wfac an opportunity to therefore interrogate and integrate new concepts that advocates for fairness and alternative lifestyles and career prospects.

“Attending this exchange program on permaculture was a life changing experience…I remembered when I was delegated by Wfac to participate and represent the organisation in the 2nd phase of the project on Permaculture in Techiman, Ghana, I couldn’t stop asking myself what the linkage was between Permaculture and Feminisms or women’s rights activism besides an element of career prospects. But after attending the exchange program, I quickly found out that there was actually a closed conceptual linkage between the two concepts, Permaculture and Feminisms. As the definition goes, permaculture is a way of life grounded in the principles of fairness, inclusivity and respect for diversity, likewise is feminism, which is the radical notion that all humans are born equal and free to decide their way of life”, said Ndabombi Emmanuel.

At the training, participants were introduced to life skills teachings around the use of moringa & orthodox medicines, in addressing Urinary Transmissible Infections, STIs, skin disorders, shocks and malaria. In addition to Ultra modern quantum analyzers for accurate results without blood samples. The team was also taught and introduced on the ethics of permaculture and its principles in relationship to our daily lives, its design processes and methods. Other skills learned included Waste Management with focus on mushroom cultivation, composting of sawdust and “bagging”,  moringa harvesting, planting and also its preservation. The processes of trees and plants crafting and budding, recycling and transformation of waste plastic bags into rain coats, handbags & other useable materials to the value eco-chain. As was taught, nothing in permaculture practices goes to waste.

One of the biggest myths deconstructed at this exchange program was that permaculture is not about “agriculture” rather it is a way of life – said Armstrong Bobvala.

According to the founder of Permaculture, Bill Mollison (1970) – there are three core ethics of permaculture which is: the care of the people, care of the earth and the fair share of resources. These ethics and principles have been adopted by everyone into permaculture as an aspect of live and not mere words written down in books. In permaculture, the principles can be briefed to the “5Rs which entails – Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle & Repair‟.

While permaculture is  way of life, it also can be a source for employment and sustainable development for all.


Written by Emmanuel Ndabombi and Amstrong Bobvala

Strengthening capacities, building networks for sustainable volunteerism

May 2-11, 2018, Women for a Change, Cameroon (Wfac) together with eight other NGOs from Cameroon, Ghana, Malawi, Kenya, and Germany took part in the “Kick-off” meeting in Frankfurt Oder, Germany. A 22-month European Union Eramus+ program on “Sustainable Foundations for Sustainable Partnerships,” funded by the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency for #Eramus + Sport, Youth and EU aid volunteers for the European Commission.