Tireless peace activists are at least honored with the Africa Prize

For years, the women of the “First National Women’s Convention for Peace in Cameroon” have been campaigning for an end to the crises in their homeland. For this they are being honored with this year’s German Africa Prize.

The “First National Women’s Convention for Peace in Cameroon”, an umbrella organization of 80 organizations, receives the German Africa Prize 2023.

“This path was marked by sweat and tears, but also by many moments of happiness and community – this success is the success of all of us,” convention representative Marthe Wandou told DW.

Wandou is one of three women who will accept the award on behalf of all members. It is awarded annually by the German Africa Foundation.

According to its own statements, the foundation has been committed to strengthening relations between Germany and Africa for 45 years. Since 1993, the German Africa Prize has been awarded to outstanding personalities on the African continent who have made a special contribution to democracy, peace, human rights, art and culture, economic development, science and society.

A great recognition

The First National Women’s Convention for Peace is the largest network of women’s organizations working for peace in Cameroon. It was founded in January 2021 and consists of 80 groups active in the 10 regions of Cameroon.

“This is a great recognition of the work of women who advocate for peace,” said Convention Member Esther Omam, who works in southwest Cameroon. “The members of the platform are happy to accept this recognition on behalf of all women in Cameroon – those living in conflict zones and those working for peace at all levels and in every way,” she said.

Women have been severely affected by the crises in four of Cameroon’s 10 regions. Among other things, various separatist groups have been fighting for the independence of the English-speaking areas in the north-west and south-west of the country since 2017. In the north, the Islamist Boko Haram militia is carrying out attacks, in the east rebels from the neighboring Central African Republic.

The women organized the First National Women’s Convention for Peace in Cameroon in July 2021. More than 1,800 women from all ten regions took part in the largest gathering of this kind in the history of Cameroon: young girls, older women, academics, athletes, soldiers, artists and scientists.

Armistice and negotiations

The women called for an immediate ceasefire, the resumption of dialogue between the government and separatists, the participation of women in the negotiations, the strengthening of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration centers and the establishment of centers for psychosocial care for war victims in the conflict regions.

“Together we have formed an alliance that is stronger, louder and bigger than those who benefit from the war,” award winner Sally Mboumien from the Northwest region told DW. “We are ready for dialogue, for mediation, for supporting initiatives and ready to do our part to end these crises,” she added.

Efforts are rewarded

The women were rewarded for their tireless commitment to peace: “The jury decided to award this year’s German Africa Prize to the First National Women’s Convention for Peace for their significant contribution to conflict resolution in four different regions of the country,” said Sabine Odhiambo, Secretary General of the German Africa Foundation.

The organization is being recognized for its pioneering work in promoting dialogue for peace and reconciliation and its contribution to increasing women’s participation in conflict resolution in Cameroon, Odhiambo said.

“The work and courage that the convention has shown despite the dangers it has faced are a true source of inspiration, not only for women in conflict situations in Cameroon, but across Africa and the world,” she told DW -Interview.

Last year the German Africa Prize went to Sikhulile Moyo and Tulio de Oliveira, two scientists from South Africa. They discovered the COVID-19 omicron variant.

Hank Peter

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