From 26 October to 06 November 2020, UNESCO in collaboration with several governmental bodies organized capacity building workshops with over 30 municipal executives (Mayors) as well as over 30 youth and women leaders of Civil Society Organizations in view of strengthening youth and women participation towards peacebuilding initiatives in Cameroon. The workshops were held in Maroua and Douala within the Framework of the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund.
On the one hand, the participating Mayors came from the following councils.
North West: Fundong, Kumbo, Kambe, Wum, Mbengwi, Ndop and Bamenda I.
South West: Kumba I, Buea, Mamfe Central, Limbe I, Bangem, Menji and Mundemba.
Littoral: Douala IV
West Region: Fongo-Tongo
Far North: Maroua I, Kousseri, Yagoua, Guere, Mokolo, Kaele, Kolofata, Tokombere and Mora.
Adamawa : Ngoaundere II and Meiganga.
North: Poli and Tcholire.
East : Garoua-Boulai.
On the other hand, the youth and female civil society leaders represented associations such as the Cameroon National Youth Council, Local Youth Corner, G54 Afrique Avenir, Accord Parfait, Pan-African Youth Network for a culture of Peace (PAYNCoP), Dynamique Mondiale des Jeunes (DMJ), Strawacademy, Boyo Mbororo Youth Association etc.
The participants were drilled by facilitators on themes such as gender and conflict, youth civic participation, disarmament, demobilization and reinsertion of radicalized youths, combating hate speech in youth milieu, inclusion of socially vulnerable youths and women in local peace strategic plans.
The facilitators hailed from UNESCO, the National Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Committee, the National Commission for the Promotion of Bilingualism and Multiculturalism, the Ministry of Youth Affairs, the National Communications Council, the Ministry of Women’s Empowerment and Family etc.
Opening the workshops in Maroua, the Governor of the Far North Region, Midjiyawa Bakari applauded the initiative as being very important and pertinent in helping ensure that young people at the grassroots level are builders of peace rather than actors of violence and terrorism.
The Mayor of Buea – Barrister David Mafani Namange equally underscored the importance of this initiative that would help councils plan better with their youth and for their youth in a manner that consolidates peace.
On his part, the Mayor of Kumba I council – Eseme Moses Esembe condemned the killing of Children in Saint Francisca College, Kumba and stressed how important the workshop was in helping councils build more sustainable peace in a challenging context.
Moussa Moise, deputy to the Mayor of Tokombere council in the Far North Region thanked UNESCO for the brilliant capacity building given to their municipality and to youths and pledged that more youth-led peace initiatives shall be channeled through their community radio as well as the local TV station which they plan to launch imminently.
Regarding the youth participants, Ruth Abunaw Besong from G54 Afrique Avenir based in Buea, South West Region expressed her complete satisfaction with the tools and techniques for strengthening youth and women participation towards peacebuilding and took the commitment to be trainer of her pairs on her acquired knowledge and skills.
In the end, participants requested that UNESCO organizes more initiatives as these especially in view of strengthening their capacities in the elaboration and monitoring of peace projects at the local (grassroots) level.
It is worth noting that this initiative was undertaken within the Peace-Building Fund Project entitled: “Support for the participation of women and youth in peace-building initiatives, strengthening mechanisms for social cohesion and living together in Cameroon”; jointly implemented by UN Women, UNICEF and UNESCO as lead agency.