Reach Out CEO, women leaders and partners in photograph after Peace Café
By Hope Nda & Nsairun Zeno
Reach Out, a non-governmental peace and humanitarian organisation has rallied women leaders of some civil societies in the Southwest Region of Cameroon to collectively discuss the challenges they encounter in building peace, and proffer solutions to them.
Held at the Buea Council’s conference room on Wednesday, March 9, the Peace Café was part of an on-going peace campaign dubbed “She Builds Peace”, which Reach Out is championing.
The Peace Café also brought together some of Reach Out’s international partners, religious leaders and administrative officials who are concerned with promoting peace in the Southwest Region.
Coming just a day after the International Women’s Day celebrated on March 8, the Peace Café, according to Esther Omam, Reach Out’s Executive Director, is one of the strategies used to identify and alleviate the suffering women in the Southwest Region are encountering as the Anglophone conflict rages on.
Terming the peace Café a “reflection forum”, Esther Omam said it was an avenue for women to discuss the issues affecting the realisation of peace in their communities.
“This particular peace campaign today is a follow-up of the recently held ‘She Builds Peace’ campaign which aimed at mobilising, engaging peace stakeholders on supporting the work that we do; trying to see how we can engage them to provide us with protection and see how the work that we, the women peace builders do can be recognised within our communities, nationwide and beyond,” Omam told journalists.
She added that, the recent initiative was part of Reach Out’s plan to support the inclusion of women in the peace-building process.
It enabled women to table their challenges to the stakeholders, “so that they commit to play their own part… and this is what we just did today and we got the engagement that women peace-builders will be included in some of the activities.”
Women who participated at the peace café identified several challenges, which hinder their ability to effectively reach out to communities.
Insecurity and threats on peace advocates, lack of knowledge and cooperation by the grassroots population, lack of finance and inaccessibility of some of the communities embattled by conflict were some of the challenges.
Patience Bate, President of Community Women Peace Mediators, who attended the peace café, said that, illiteracy among the grassroots population remains one of the hindrances to peace-building,
She added: “We have needs in all the six divisions of the Southwest Region. We need to organise educative sessions to educate these women. We need to move to the grassroots, but we don’t have funds – that’s a problem.”
Present at the Peace Café was the Mayor of Buea, represented by the 1st Deputy Mayor, Molinge Minerva. She said the peace café was a breakthrough towards peace, adding that such avenues were needed to sustain peace in the Southwest Region.
She pledged the Council’s readiness to work with Reach Out and women generally for peace to be sustained in the Region.
Meanwhile, the Imam of the Buea Central Mosque, Sheik Aboubakar, who attended the event, lauded the effort Reach Out has made towards inclusive peace building, one of which included offering a grant to Muslim women in Buea.
The Southwest Delegate of Women’s Empowerment and the Family, Lucia Ediage, also hailed Reach Out’s inclusive approach to peace building, and emphasised the need for women not to remain silent amid suffering and violence in the world.