Cameroonian women win German Africa Prize for peace efforts – DW – 06/06/2023 / German News

The 1st National Women’s Convention for Peace in Cameroon, an umbrella group with 80 member organizations, will receive the German Africa Prize in Berlin this autumn, DW can now exclusively confirm.

“This journey has been marked by sweat and tears, but also by many moments of happiness and communion — this success is the success of us all,” Marthe Wandou, from Cameroon’s Far North region, told DW.

Wandou wears sunglasses and a tied pink scarf atop her head, a beaded necklace
Wandou said the award was achieved through ‘moments of happiness … and tears’Image: Elisabeth Asen/DW

Wandou is one of the three prizewinners representing the 1st National Women’s Convention for Peace in Cameroon’s 80 member organizations. The German Africa Foundation organizes the annual award.

The foundation has been committed to strengthening relations between Germany and Africa for 45 years. Since 1993, the foundation has awarded the German Africa Prize to outstanding personalities from the continent who have made exceptional contributions to democracy, peace, human rights, arts and culture, economic development, science and society.

Armed soldiers stand at attention
Cameroon has been embroiled in a conflict with Anglophone separatists since 2017Image: Alexis Huguet/AFP/Getty Images

‘A Great Recognition’

The 1st National Women’s Convention for Peace is the largest and most far-reaching network of women’s organizations focusing on peace in Cameroon.

It was established in January 2021 and consists of 80 groups that represent the 10 regions of Cameroon, as well as up to 25 distinct social categories of women.

“This is a great recognition for the work of women peace builders,” said Esther Omam, from Cameroon’s Southwest region.

Esther Omam wears sunglasses and a blue scarf tied on top of her head, a beaded necklace
Omam: The group is ‘a concerted effort and concerted voice in this ongoing conflict’Image: Elisabeth Asen/DW

“The members of the platform are happy to accept this act of recognition on behalf of all the women of Cameroon, “those living in conflict zones and those committed to building peace at all levels and in all senses,” she said.

Women have been significantly affected by the security crises in four of Cameroon’s 10 regions.

Addressing conflict’s inequities

The women organized the first National Convention of Women for Peace in Cameroon to address these inequalities in July 2021.

The largest gathering of its kind in Cameroon’s history, it brought together more than 1,800 women from all 10 regions and 58 departments: young girls, older women, academics, athletes, soldiers, artists and scientists.

The women called for an immediate cease-fire, a resumption of dialogue between the government and separatists in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon, a place for women at the negotiating table, the strengthening of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration centers and the creation of psychosocial support centers for war victims in conflict regions.

Woman wears sunglasses, earrings and a chain necklace as she smiles into the cameria
‘I feel like: Women, yes, we’ve been recognized,’ Mboumien told DWImage: Elisabeth Asen/DW

“Together, we have built an alliance that is stronger, louder and more numerous than those who profit from war,” Sally Mboumien, a prizewinner from the North-West region, told DW.

“We are ready to dialogue, ready to mediate, ready to support initiatives,” Mboumien said, “and to contribute our efforts to end these crises.”

Reconciliation efforts rewarded

The women have been rewarded for their tireless work advocating peace.

“The jury has decided to award this year’s German Africa Prize to the 1st National Women’s Convention for Peace for its significant contribution to conflict resolution in four different regions of the country,” said Sabine Odhiambo, secretary-general of the German Africa Foundation.

Anglophone crisis put kids’ right to education at risk

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Odhiambo said the organization was awarded for its pioneering work in facilitating dialogue for peace and reconciliation and for increasing women’s participation in conflict resolution in Cameroon.

“The work and courage demonstrated by the convention, despite the personal dangers it faced, are a true source of inspiration, not only for women in conflict situations in Cameroon, but throughout Africa and the world,” she said.

Last year, the German Africa Prize was won by Sikhulile Moyo and Tulio de Oliveira, two scientists in South Africa who discovered the COVID-19 omicron variant.

African COVID-19 researchers receive German Africa Prize

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Edited by: M Gagnon

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