Mayors in 5 Municipalities of the North West Region raised Voices for Peace and better education facilities

The Mayors of Bali, Belo, Ndop, Oku and Balikumbat hosted 5 Municipal Round Table Discussions that brought together councilors, educational, religious, traditional and civil society representatives. They should reflect on the relevance of the theme of the 2015 “16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign” and take action for improvement on the ground. The theme “From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Make Education Safe for All” is very relevant to these municipalities because over 10 communities within these municipalities had witnessed in the recent past some of the worse forms of violent inter tribal/ethnic conflicts that resulted in loss of human lives, destruction of home, livelihood systems, educational materials and facilities.

The North West Region comparatively and proportionately benefits least from the national budget and development initiatives, is amongst the four poorest regions of the Country. However, its strong self-reliant and community development spirit is the driving force for the level of development it enjoys. Unfortunately a long history of tribal and ethic conflicts erodes these achievements of their many years of struggles.

It is against this background and the opportunity offered by the 16 day of activism campaign that the Community Initiative for Sustainable Development (COMINSUD) collaborating with the Justice and Peace Commission of the Bamenda archdiocese (members of the Cameroon Civil Peace Service Network) decided to focus on these 5 Municipalities where they have been working to promote a culture of peace.

An average of 25 persons in each municipality Roundtable, reflected based on the situation in the homes, schools, neighborhoods, villages and municipality on the following:

  • The challenges concerning violence and education
  • How the spaces for education look like
  • Ways in which conflicts and violence have affects young people and the educational situation
  • Can you make a contribution towards positive and sustainable peace?

The participants were provided with an opening paper prepared and presented by COMINSUD on the background and objectives of the Campaign, the context and forms of violence and how women and girls suffer. They also had information on the 2015 theme with global statistics on the effects of violence on education. COMINSUD also presented to them excepts of a rapid assessment carried out in December 2014 by UNICEF and the Ministry of Basic Education (MINEDUB) in 110 schools and 93 households in four Divisions (Diamare, Logone et Chari, Mayo Tsanaga and Maya Sava) most affected by the Boko Haram insurgency in the Far North Region. All those information enabled the participants to better appreciate the importance of the 16 days campaign and do an introspection of their local context.

These events which were covered by five community Radio Stations achieved the following:

  • The participants gained plenty of insights on the 16 Days Campaign with particular focus on violence and its effect on women and girls and the need for a culture of peace and how to build it via the opening presentation and materials handed to them.
  • The participants gained deeper insights of the challenging and difficult educational setting in which their children learn via guided discussions and exchange of practical experiences and how this affects the education of girls. Simple, low cost and practical actions were discussed that could make the school environment safe for learning such as: providing potable water, green the school, constructing separate latrines for boys and girls, speaking out and sanctioning actions that violate children especially girls.
  • Participants recognized the lack of tolerance amongst communities in conflict and how inadequate use of non violent approaches to conflicts resolutions reliance on external solutions have brought several negative consequences on in their municipalities. They strongly resolved to strengthen local conflict and dispute resolution structures within the communities and to create Municipal Peace Committees and Peace Desks to deal with conflicts and emergencies.
  • Participants committed to widen actions within their spheres of influence to promote a culture of peace. In this respected, over 500 copies of packages designed to stimulate discussions where shared out to be distributed to religious leaders, schools and groups within each municipality

Using the packages and communicating the content amongst others, called on people to make a peace action such as:

  • Wearing the white ribbon during the 16-day period as a commitment of the wearer to never commit or condone violence against women and children.
  • Use your skills, knowledge and influence to help the victims of violence and abuse.
  • Speak out against violence toward woman and children and encourage silent female and children victims to talk about abuse and ensure that they get help.
  • Encouraged men and boys to talk about abuse and discourage abusive and violent behavior.
  • Also try to understand how your own attitudes and actions might perpetuate violence.
  • Use social media (telephone, facebook, email, whatsup etc) to exchange messages of peace and reconciliation.
  • Use religion worship service, cultural gathering etc to exchange messages of peace and reconciliation.
  • Promote mobilization and actions of individuals and communities to promote reconciliation or eradicate violence via exchange visits, peace talks, peace gestures etc.
Deputy Mayor of Bali Municipality with Peace Volunteers

Deputy Mayor of Bali Municipality with Peace Volunteers

Fon Nsoh (COMINSUD) introducing Peace Volunteers at the Municipal Roundtable in Bali

Fon Nsoh (COMINSUD) introducing Peace Volunteers at the Municipal Roundtable in Bali

Peace Volunteers at the Municipal Roundtable in Bali

Peace Volunteers at the Municipal Roundtable in Bali

Deputy Mayor Ngwe Mary Assumpta opening the Municipal Roundtable in Balikumbat

Deputy Mayor Ngwe Mary Assumpta opening the Municipal Roundtable in Balikumbat

Mr Fon Nsoh introducing the 16 days campaign and giving out the handouts prepared by COMINSUD in Balikumbat

Mr Fon Nsoh introducing the 16 days campaign and giving out the handouts prepared by COMINSUD in Balikumbat

Deputy Mayor Ngwe Mary Assumpta with the Peace Volunteers of Balikumbat

Deputy Mayor Ngwe Mary Assumpta with the Peace Volunteers of Balikumbat

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Commemorating Human Rights Day

COMINSUD joined the rest of the world in commemorating the Human Rights Day on the theme “Our rights, our freedoms, always”. We joined the National Commission on Human Rights and Freedom in an early morning walk to sensitize the population on the significance of the day. Later in the day, we did an exhibition of all what we have done in the domain of human rights.

Especially women were interested in knowing more about their reproductive rights. There are many cases where wives are forced to have as many children as possible and men refuse to do family planning. Women wanted to know how they can come to an agreement with their husbands without fighting over the number of children. One convincing argument they could use, is the financial implication but also the immense load on the wives who are the only caretakers of these children and beside they have to do all the farm work and household chores.

It was a interesting exchange which ended in documents and information sharing between participants.

Celebration of WORLD AIDS DAY 2015

Under this year’s theme “Getting to ZERO: ZERO New HIV Infections, ZERO Discrimination, ZERO AIDS Related Deaths” the day’s commemoration in Bamenda was one of Celebration. Celebrating the progression and advancement made over the decades in addressing HIV/AIDS. COMINSUD actively took part this day in promoting the “90-90-90 Target” through an exhibition and use of materials to sensitize the public on the importance to help end the AIDS epidemic.

That is by 2020, 90% of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status. 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy and 90% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression.

The Governor threw more light on enhancing infected persons’ adherence to treatment, stating clearly-collecting the antiretroviral treatment from the Health center is not enough but taking the treatment correctly, every day and on time.

Yes! We can do it and we must do it” was a strong concluding emphasis made by Dr. Tayong of the Regional Technical Group (RTG) for the Fight against HIV/AIDS, to commemorate the World AIDS Day which is not just for a day but for a season.

Orange the Neighborhood: Action to Discourage Violence

It is a tradition for COMINSUD to join the rest of the world in celebrating “16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign“. This year we started the campaign by oranging our neighborhood. A stand was setup in front of the office so while given out flyers, posters and verbal information to passersby, we also affixed the orange ribbon to them.

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16 days of activism: Promoting dialogue and peace within communities

This year we are celebrating the 24th year of the “16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign“. The 2015 theme is “From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Make Education Safe for All”. Our  29 trained Peace Volunteers joined 32 Volunteers of the Justice and Peace Service, Bamenda to raise awareness and stimulate discussions in their communities on this year’s theme.

They are using November 25th to December 10th 2015 in soliciting the engagement of religious leaders, heads of worship places and educational authorities in promoting messages, reflections and actions that promotes sustainable peace at the family, community, region and country level through:

  • Sending a messages of reconciliation to someone;
  • Sending telephone messages promoting and supporting peace;
  • Seeking to mediate between persons or groups in conflicting situations;
  • Supporting the needs of a needy and vulnerable children in school;
  • Participating in radio call-in programs sharing positive views on peace building;
  • Using Facebook, whatsapp and twitter to share messages for peace.

14 Municipal Councils commit in increasing of budget for the underprivileged

It was following lobbying and advocacy meetings with municipal and traditional council authorities in 14 Councils in the North West Region within the DEW Project of COMINSUD that the dire challenges of vulnerable and underprivileged persons in the municipalities were identified and strategies proffered in the spirit of programme budgeting in tackling these needs over the years.

A huge number of women, orphans, children under 14 years specially the girl child, physically challenged persons, persons from minority groups, PLWHA, widows and the elderly in the communities were identified to be facing critical challenges of discrimination, limited access to basic needs for survival, extreme poverty and much more. Through partnership agreements (MoUs) signed with COMINSUD, the Councils’ decided to increase their budget head for assisting the vulnerable in 2016 by varying percentages: Ako Council 60%, Oku Council: 25% and lots more….

The councils envisaged a minimum of 100 underprivileged persons benefiting from sustainable impacting assistance per council per year, giving 300 in three years thus 1,400 for 14 councils per year and a total 4,200 in three years. This cumulative impact is very significant which when properly implemented, documented and communicated wouldn’t go unnoticed. We encourage other councils to engage and do better.

Councils Involved: Bali, Batibo, Oku, Kumbo, Ndu, Ako, Ndop, Babessi, Belo, Fundong, Njikwa, Bafut, Wum, Benakuma

Municipal and traditional authorities in Oku

Municipal and traditional authorities in Oku

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Municipal and traditional authorities in Ako

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Mayor of Ako committing the collaboration of the council

16 days of Activism against gender based violence

The 16 days of activism against gender based violence is an international campaign that was started by the Centre for Women Global Leadership (CWGL) in 1991. The 16 Days run from November 25, (International Day on No violence Against Women) December 10  (International Human Rights Day) to symbolically link violence against women and human rights and to emphasize that such violence is a violation of human rights.

This 16 day period also highlights other significant dates including December 1, which is World AIDS Day, and December 6, which marks the Anniversary of the Montreal Massacre in 1989, when 14 women students were massacred by a lone gun-man opposed to the affirmative action policies promoted by feminism at the University of Montreal.

This campaign wants to raise awareness about gender-based violence as a human rights issue at the local, national, regional and international level.

This year’s theme is “Let’s challenge militarism and end violence against women”.

COMINSUD together with her community based volunteers in 22 Local Governance Centres (LGCs) in the North West Region will focus on ending violence against women and girls through community education using round table discussions, street walks, drama and awareness raising over community radio stations. Orange ribbons, posters and banners will be used join the “ORANGE YOUR NEIGHBOURHOOD CAMPAIGN” to fight violence against women.

Since it began, the 16 Days of Activism has been used as an organizing strategy by women’s groups to call for the elimination of violence against women by raising awareness about gender based violence as a human rights issue at local, regional and international levels; strengthening local work around violence against women, demonstrating the solidarity of women around the world organizing against women and creating tools to pressure governments to implement promises made to eliminate violence against women.