Omam Esther receiving 2023 Global Pluralism Award in Canada
The Executive Director of Reach Out Cameroon, Esther Omam Njomo, has received the 2023 Global Pluralism Award which she won this year, in Canada.
The peace advocate and humanitarian received her award on November 14 in Canada, alongside two laureates.
The award was a recognition of the peacebuilder, mediator, and human rights defender’s efforts and strides in mobilising women and youths from across Cameroon to advocate for an end to conflict. Cameroon currently battles for peace in its Anglophone regions, as well as in the Northern regions.
News of Esther Omam Njomo winning the award was earlier announced in Ottawa, Canada, on October 25, 2023 – by an Independent, charitable organisation Global Centre for Pluralism and an independent, international jury of experts which selected this year’s three winners and seven honourable mention recipients from among 200 submissions across 60 countries.
The award which is presented every two years, recognises pluralism in action and celebrates the inspiring and brave work that is helping to build more inclusive societies where diversity is valued and protected.
Esther Omam is an award-winning peacebuilder and human rights defender who has spent nearly three decades fostering a culture of peace in Cameroon. Her organisation, Reach Out Cameroon, promotes the rights of women and children in conflict-affected areas and has always fronted women’s participation in the peacebuilding process.
So far through its various activities, Reach Out has served over 1,700,000 people in remote communities in the Northwest and Southwest regions since the Anglophone crisis started in late 2016.
As the crisis morphed from one phase to another, Omam to amplify women’s voices, strengthen their agency, and draw attention to the impacts of violence and trauma on their communities, established the Southwest/ Northwest Women’s Taskforce. The Taskforce has been instrumental in making the voices of women heard in the crisis.
She was again one of the leading organisers of the first-ever National Women’s Convention for Peace in Cameroon, which drew over 1,200 women from across the country to demand an end to violence. It was the first one its kind in Cameroon.
From facilitating the participation of women in local and national dialogues to opening a Peace House christened “Esther’s Brave Space” that offers temporary accommodation and counselling to survivors of gender-based violence, Omam champions pluralism by strengthening communities and uniting voices to call for peace and social cohesion in Cameroon.
Esther Omam was recognised at a ceremony in Ottawa, Canada on November 14, 2023. There, she received $50,000 (CAD) to further her work in support of pluralism.
In reaction to the news of her ground-breaking award, which is one among many, Esther Omam said, “This award is a reaffirmation of the value of the concept of “Leave no one behind”. That humanity, more than ever before, should always come first. That our diversity is our bond and that, with pluralism, everyone can have a voice. This award symbolises all that I fight for as a woman, a peacebuilder, and a leader in Cameroon, a country where the acceptance of our diversity and plurality can be a solution to our plight.”
Dr. Marwan Muasher, Award Jury Chair and Vice President for Studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, earlier remarked, “The Award winners’ work has enormous value in the world today. Pluralism is not embedded in every society or every country in the world. Those who work for pluralism, those who truly believe that diversity is a source of strength and not weakness, need to be acknowledged and celebrated.”
On her part, Meredith Preston McGhie, Secretary General of the Global Centre for Pluralism said, “Against the current global landscape, recommitting to the values of pluralism is incredibly important. The 2023 Global Pluralism Award winners are demonstrating that with creativity and courage, advancing pluralism is truly possible. Their achievements offer so much hope for the future when it is needed most”.
Esther Omam, through her works, and that of her NGO, Reach Out, Cameroon, where she is Executive Director, has won numerous awards, especially in line with her efforts in fighting for peace, and providing humanitarian response to the various communities and persons largely affected by the ongoing Anglophone crisis in Cameroon.