Activities of the South West and North West women’s task force (SNWOT) have been misunderstood at all levels by the Cameroonian society, reasons why a general meeting took place in Bamenda on Saturday 24th August 2019, to rekindle engagement amongst the women and to put the records straight by apologizing to the women who got connected with SNWOT and their actions were misinterpreted.
Talking to Maikem’s Diary, Esther Omam, General Coordinator of SNWOT, says the activities of SNWOT which aims at bringing lasting solutions to the current crisis in the two English speaking regions, have been misinterpreted by many, may be because they didn’t define their stance as it should have been.
The general meeting had two levels aimed at restructuring the organization. The first part looked at membership. According to madam Omam, the membership of SNWOT have been questioned by many. “To be a member of SNWOT, membership will be base on merit not credit, candidate should originate from the NW or SW and also by alliance (marriage). Many people say they have seen members holding front line rolls in politics. Others say the task force is pro-government while some say it is a political inclined coalition. These accusations have brought us here today, so we can redefine who we are”.
Cameroon is not the only country where women are advocating for peace. In other countries like Sudan and Liberia, women have vital roles in fighting for peace and rebuilding their communities. It is with such vision that SNWOT was created and restructuring the task force will enable the women achieve this goal.
The second part of the meeting was attended by members of SNWOT and community leaders in Bamenda. On this lane, members of SNWOT explained to the women that they are a-political and are sorry if they were been mistaken for taking part in actions that are politically motivated. “it was never our intention but at times the devil will always find a way into our midst. This has caused some of our members to experience suffering and pain and we want to put a stop to that”. Says Esther Omam.
The meeting is holding at a time when there is increased tension in the NW region due to the announced lock down by separatists, causing many to flee to other regions. On this page, Esther Omam called on the women in the region to be courageous and keep advocating for peace. “It is true that this started in the minds of men but we as women can change the narrative, by advocating for peace and we can do that if we bring out the motherly aspects of making those concern know that, women and children should be at the centre of their interest”.
According to Nchang Rita, a community leader and peace advocate, more women should join the taskforce and lament for peace because women are the most affected in the crisis. “We give birth to our children and they are molested, killed and we are left to bury them”.
To Tamilou Beatrice another community leader, the meeting will help open her mind more on peace advocacy and she can add her voice to that of other women to talk to the children and men involved in the crisis. “Let me use this platform to tell the women in the NW/SW regions that running away from problems, won’t solve the problem. All traveling agencies are full with people fleeing to other cities rather than trying to make peace beginning from their immediate environment so they can all live comfortably”.
SNWOT has been calling on the government and leaders of the separatist movement to dialogue and put an end to the unrest that has claimed many lives and displaced thousands.
Maikem Emmanuela Manzie