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International Journal of Trend in Scientific 
J** Research and Develooment (IJTSRD) 


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•* International Journal *• ^ 
3 • of Trend in Scientific • “ 
^ • Research and 
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Research and Development (IJTSRD) 
international Open Access Journal 
ISSN No: 2456 - 6470 | www.ijtsrd.com | Volume - 2 j Issue-4 


Women and Peace Building in Cameroon: Issues and Perspectives 


Bisong Clara Bate Ashu Mbuoben (Ph.D) 

Department of Development Studies, 

Pan African Institute for Development West Africa (PAID-WA) 

Buea, Cameroon 


ABSTRACT 

Peace building activities address the root causes or 
potential causes of violence, create a societal 
expectation for peaceful conflict resolution and 
stabilize society politically and socio-economically. 
Though Cameroon has hardly been involved any full 
scale war or persistent armed conflict like those of 
some Africa countries were conflicts have resulted in 
destabilization, displacement, and destruction of both 
people and infrastructural, both men and women are 
involved in the different approaches and phases of 
peace building that has to do with issues related to 
minor boarder violence like that of the Bakassi 
Peninsular , the Boko Haram insurgence in the 
Northern Region and the recent minor ongoing 
Anglophone crises and other forms of gender based 
violence in families and the community. The women 
in Cameroon just like those in Burundi, Sudan, 
Rwanda, Liberia and others have performed important 
roles as peace negotiators and peace educators in both 
families and society, but unlike their male 
counterparts they seem to be facing some difficulties 
in their participation in the different phases of peace 
building as stated by UNESCO Women and Peace 
Building in Africa, 2003.This paper is descriptive, 
guided by conceptual and theoretical frameworks of 
women and peace like the Liberal Feminist, Conflict 
and interactionist theoretical perspectives. The Paper 
seeks to analyse women’s role in peace building and 
conflict resolution and the contributions they make 
with their traditional methods to ignite peace in the 
community in Cameroon. Examples in Cameroon as 
in other Case studies especially in Africa shows that 
Women have issues in peace building and security, 
and the development of interventions to address them 
that are linked to their lack of voice and political will. 
The paper also identifies women’s needs that should 
be met through the mainstreaming of gender in peace 
and conflict resolution to stimulate women’s active 


participation in any peace building and conflict 
resolution effort. 

KEYWORDS: Peace, Peace building, Women 
Participation, Gender Equality, Gender 
mainstreaming 

Peace has been define in many different ways The 
term 'peace' originates from the Anglo-French pes, 
and the Old French pais, meaning "peace, 
reconciliation, silence, agreement. In this light 

International Alert defines peace as when people are 
able to resolve their conflicts without violence and 
can work together to improve the quality of their 
lives. Meanwhile the 

Thesarus dictionary defines peace as a state of 
mutual harmony between people or groups, especially 
in personal relations (UNESCO Women and Peace in 
Africa, 2003). 

Peace building: As defined in the UN Peacekeeping 
Capstone Doctrine (2008) peace building “involves a 
range of measures targeted to reduce the risk of 
lapsing or relapsing into conflict by strengthening 
national capacities at all levels of conflict 
management, and to lay the foundation for sustainable 
peace and development.” This report narrows the lens 
to early post conflict peace building which is defined 
in the Secretary-General’s report on Peace building in 
the Immediate Aftermath of Conflict (2009) as: 
“seizing the window of opportunity in the immediate 
aftermath of conflict (including)...support to basic 
safety and security, including mine action, protection 
of civilians, disarmament, demobilization and 
reintegration, strengthening the rule of law and 
initiation of security sector reform. [And] support to 


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International Journal of Trend in Scientific Research and Development (IJTSRD) ISSN: 2456-6470 


political processes, including electoral processes, 
promoting inclusive dialogue and reconciliation, and 
developing conflict-management capacity at national 
and subnational levels.” 

Peace building as a major concept in conflict 
resolution and management has been defined as, a 
means of preventing the outbreak, reoccurrence or 
continuation of armed conflicts and as well as 
emergences in a wide range of political, 
developmental, humanitarian and human right 
mechanism The process of peace building therefore 
compasses all the stages of conflict, from the pre- 
conflict to the post conflict phase, with aim of laying 
the basis for sustainable peace in conflict tom society 
(Karame, 2004). 

Women’s Participation: As defined by Security 
Council Resolution 1325 (2000) this refers to the 
“role of women in the prevention and resolution of 
conflicts and in peace-building, and...their equal 
participation and full involvement in all efforts for the 
maintenance and promotion of peace and security, and 
the need to increase their role in decision-making with 
regard to conflict prevention and resolution.” 

Gender. UN Women, define Gender as the social 
construction of men’s and women’s roles in a given 
culture or location. Gender roles are distinguished 
from sex roles, which are biologically determined. 
The concept gender also includes the expectations 
held about characteristics, aptitudes and likely 
behaviors of both women and men. These roles and 
aptitudes can change over time and they vary between 
cultures. The concept gender is important when 
applied to peace building and conflict resolution 
because it reveals how women’s subordination 
despites actions and efforts are socially constructed. 

Gender equality 

Gender equality is when there is no discrimination on 
the grounds of a person’s sex in the allocation of 
resources, benefits or in the access to services. Gender 
equality, may be measured in terms of whether there 
is equal valuing by society of both the similarities and 
differences between women and men as they carry out 
their roles. Equality will improve on Women’s 
position by giving those rights in resources, and 
political voice and contribution to sustainable 
development. 


Gender Mainstreaming: As defined by the UN 
Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) this refers 
to “the process of assessing the implications for 
women and men of any planned action, including 
legislation, policies or programs, in all areas and at all 
levels. It is a strategy for making women’s as well as 
men’s concerns and experiences an integral dimension 
of the design, implementation, monitoring and 
evaluation of policies and programs in all spheres, so 
that women and men benefit equally, and inequality is 
not perpetuated. 

l.O-INTRODUCTION 

Women in West Africa just like others in the rest of 
the world have played significant roles in situations 
relating to peace and war for centuries. Their 
participation has been as citizens who are recognized 
under the custom and law as being a legal member of 
their sovereign state. Women have always made a 
unique contribution in the peace-building process. In 
all areas, whether it's peace-building or any other 
thing, women’s role cannot be ignored and their 
contribution brings development not only for 
themselves, but as well as for the entire world. 
Through peace building, women can bring different 
issues in front of the world and can make better 
decisions to solve these issues. They can better 
understand the issues and can follow the rules to 
solving the problems and issues. They have acted 
primarily as traditional peace-makers, as priestesses 
who confer with gods to determine whether it was 
right to go to war or not, as praise singers for men 
during battles as a boost to ensure their victory, or as 
custodians of culture. In each culture there are stories 
of women who have played some leadership and other 
roles as peace envoys or harbingers of peace in their 
communities. However, as the trend of wars and 
armed conflicts in West Africa changed, women 
became the victims of unimaginable forms of violence 
as a tactic of war that they suffer more than their male 
counterparts (Ngongo-Mbede, 2003). All nations in 
Africa have come to realize the gendered effects of 
conflict and both men and women are heavily 
involved in the different dimensions of peace building 
which includes the two broad approaches to peace 
building like first, peace building that refers to direct 
work that intentionally focuses on addressing the 
factors driving or mitigating conflict (Korb, 2011). 

When applying the term "peace building" to this 
work, there is an explicit attempt by those designing 
and planning a peace building effort to reduce 


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International Journal of Trend in Scientific Research and Development (IJTSRD) ISSN: 2456-6470 


structural or direct violence and second, the term 
peace building can also refer to efforts to coordinate a 
multi-level, multispectral strategy, including ensuring 
that there is funding and proper communication and 
coordination mechanisms between humanitarian 
assistance, development, governance, security, justice 
and other sectors that may not use the term "peace 
building" to describe themselves. The concept is not 
one to impose on specific sectors (Bryman 2012). 

With the unanimous adoption of Resolution 1325 by 
the United Nations Security Council (UNESCO,2006) 
in O October 2000, women’s role in, and potentials 
for peace building have gained global, regional and 
national attention. Consequently, the last six years 
have been characterized by the identification of key 
issues on women, peace and security, and the 
development of interventions to address them. While 
women in Cameroon like their counterpart all over 
Africa and the world gets involved in national and 
international preservation of peace, the question now 
is what actually is the role of women in the 
preservation of peace? This is because fundamental 
concerns about peace and citizenship lies on human 
rights and when human rights are violated then there 
are bound to be conflicts for men and women that 
quickly steal away their peace. This Paper has the 
following specific objectives: It seeks to: 

> Analyze the nature of women’s involvement in 
peace building in Cameroon. 

> Examine some of the challenges women face in 
their effort to preserve peace. 

> Discuss the mainstreaming of gender in conflict 
and peace building interventions, highlighting 
some best practices. 

2.0 THEORITICAL PERSPECTIVE 

This write up is purely descriptive guided by a 
number of Feminist Peace and Conflict Theories 
(FPCT) that helped the writer to understand and 
assess the complexities that women undergo in the 
society as they generally participate in the peace 
building process. 

Feminist Peace and Conflict Theory (FPCT) reflects 
on the need of visibility of women in conflicts and 
peace concerns and has led to a broader understanding 
of gender peace and security issues in the society and 
introduces the interconnectedness of all forms of 
violence ( domestic, societal, state based and inter¬ 
state ) to gendered dimension of peace building. 
According to the Conflict perspective by Collins, 


1975; Vogel, 1983; Collier, 1988; Bradley, 1989 as in. 
(Frances & Kolma 2005), there is the contention that 
sexual division of labour is a social vehicle devised by 
men to ensure themselves privilege and power in their 
relationships with women. Richardson (1987) as in 
(Frances & Kolma 2005), in his Interactionist theory 
argue that gender inequality persist because of the 
way men and women and other appropriate roles in 
society are define. Feminists questioned earlier the 
gender dynamics of the French Revolution and other 
revolutions (Mary Wollstonecraft, 1792) and the 
exclusion of women from the acclaimed new status of 
citizenship that only lead to the deepening of concerns 
related to gender inequality. 

All the FCPT argued that in the society general, some 
aspects of female subordination and gender inequality 
exist which goes a long way to affect human right 
concerns that affects national peace and citizenship, 
which could be closely related to issues of peace and 
conflict management.Emphasizing on patriotism, this 
argument about women and peace is based on their 
participation and decision making, similar to the 
position taken by liberal feminists on the question of 
women in the army and possible conflict resolution 
processes and activities. 

All the feminist theories discussed have their 
relevance in this paper following the major high lights 
that are closely related to the gender differences in 
roles and consequences of conflict and the peace 
building process. Since both men and women are 
affected by the gendered effects of conflicts, both 
gender should effectively participate in the national 
and international peace building processes in 
Cameroon. 

3 ANALYZE OF THE NATURE OF WOMEN’S 
INVOLVEMENT IN PEACE BUILDING IN 
CAMEROON. 

This has to do with women natural and other useful 
qualities as peace builders, their role seen in their 
necessary actions or activities and what the actually 
do to contribute to peace building in their country. 

Women’s Role in the different Phases of Peace 
building 

Peace is fundamental in many of Cameroon’s cultural 
universe and Women are seen to play a great role in 
maintaining this peace. Women are the threads that 
hold together the social fabric of society. In most of 
the African countries, they are involved in the 


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International Journal of Trend in Scientific Research and Development (IJTSRD) ISSN: 2456-6470 


different phases of peace building which is generally 
seen in their activities (Harermans, 2000) as in 
McGuinness (2007) 

Peace building is an intervention that is designed to 
prevent the start or resumption of violent conflict by 
creating a sustainable peace. Peace building activities 
address the root causes or potential causes of 
violence, create a societal expectation for peaceful 
conflict resolution and stabilize society politically and 
socioeconomically. 

There are a number of peace building activities 
depending on the situation and the agent of peace 
building. Successful peace building activities create 
an environment supportive of self-sustaining, durable 
peace; reconcile opponents; prevent conflict from 
restarting; integrate civil society; create rule of law 
mechanisms; and address underlying structural and 
societal issues. According to some researchers and 
practitioners peace building is most effective and 
durable when it relies upon local conceptions of peace 
and the underlying dynamics which foster or enable 
conflict (Coning, 2013) 

So far as earlier indicated, Cameroon has been and is 
hit by major crisis/conflicts, including the Bakassi 
peninsular crisis with Nigeria, the Boko Haram 
Terrorist attacks from 2015 till now and the 
Anglophone crisis in the North West and South West 
Regions of the country. In combating this crisis, 
women alongside men have played key roles, 
traditionally, domestically and politically to ensure 
the establishment of peace especially in their 
immediate communities and nation. 

There are two broad approaches to peace building. 
First; peace building can refer to direct work that 
intentionally focuses on addressing the factors driving 
or mitigating conflict. When applying the term "peace 
building" to this paper, there is an explicit attempt by 
those designing and planning a peace building effort 
to reduce structural or direct violence and second, the 
term peace building can also refer to efforts to 
coordinate a multi-level, multisectoral strategy, 
including ensuring that there is funding and proper 
communication and coordination mechanisms 
between humanitarian assistance, development, 
governance, security, justice and other sectors that 
may not use the term "peace building" to describe 
themselves. Rather some scholars use the term peace 
building is an overarching concept useful for 


describing a range of interrelated efforts. (Harermans, 

2000) 

Generally women can be involved in these two 
approaches as they engage in the three phases like 
pre-conflict phase that strengthen and promote 
activities, local women’s organizations and can 
initiatives and promote peace initiates and foster an 
atmosphere of conviviality in their communities. The 
formation of network (peace alliances) by women can 
promote cooperation and trust which will eliminate 
the causes of conflict (Mpangala, 2004).During armed 
conflict, women can contribute to peace building by 
becoming combatants just like men, providing 
weapons to men, spying and functioning as mail 
runners and caregivers to children and taking the 
responsibility Local women’s peacekeeping 
organization can step up their role as negotiators and 
mediators between the warring parties and encourage 
dialogue between them and in refugee camp, women 
have responsibility for avoiding existential hardship. 
Women ensure the fair distribution of food, 
allowances for the special needs of women, girl. 
Prevention of harassment by male refugees. In the 
post conflict phase of a conflict. 

Women particularly play important role during the 
peace process and also in the re-integration phase. Of 
particular significance here in that pre-conflict and 
post-conflict phases above all share marked parallels. 
The requisite measures are often similar, since peace 
building and conflict prevention are essential before 
and after a conflict. Women can play the following 
roles in this phase. More of Women’s significant role 
here in decision-making functions through their full 
participation in conflict settlement and peace 
processes. Women can also act in this phase as 
negotiators and mediators to encourage dialogue 
between parties. By highlighting the need of women 
in the demobilization and reconstruction phase, 
women’s groups and networks can make an important 
contribution to sustainable peace process especially as 
they are emotionally better placed to handle decisions 
regarding compensation for suffering caused by 
sexual violence predicament of rape victims, women 
sex slaves returning, perhaps pregnant (Korb, 2011). 

Irrespective of the above, Cameroonian women have 
been more involved in all the processes of conflict 
prevention and the promotion, consolidation and 
reconstruction of peace and security. This followed 
the resolutions and strategies that were adopted in 


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International Journal of Trend in Scientific Research and Development (IJTSRD) ISSN: 2456-6470 


Yaounde on the occasion of the national information 
and sensitization workshop on UN Resolution 1325 
on gender, peace and security organized by the Centre 
for Human Rights and Peace Advocacy. ( The 
advocates for Human rights ,2014) 

Women’s useful qualities for peace building 

Women by their nature and role have some useful 
qualities for peace building. According to UNESCO’s 
Women and the Culture of Peace program in all 
cultures of Cameroon peace is equated with 
‘freshness, health, well-being, harmony, calm and 
tranquility, essentially virtues and properties of nature 
which are marvelously embodied by women. Women 
Play a Unique and Valuable Part in Peace-Building. 
Women are also mobilizing the entire community for 
development and peace-building. They are 
encouraging their societies and communities to bring 
change through peace-making. 

Women are seen as mediators at the various levels of 
conflict- couple, home, extended family, and the 
society in general. In this light, points to support 
women contribution to peace in Cameroon as well as 
a way forward will be explained in the paragraphs that 
follow (UNESCO Women and Peace in Africa, 
2003).Widjaja (2007) indicated that women are very 
instrumental in keeping peace in the various ways that 
it is used in the society emphasizing that there are at 
least three dimensions of peace. First there is the 
dimension of physical well-being, including the 
absence of war, disease, or famine; Second included 
fair relationships between peoples and nations in this 
context meant that there were no economic 
inequalities, no injustice, and no oppression or 
exclusion of any other human beings. In other words, 
peaceful individuals do not pursue one’s own interest 
but cares for others, regardless of who they are and 
finally, peace has a personal dimension that included 
moral integrity (Korb, 2011).Thus, the woman’s role 
is to keep peace in all three of its dimensions. 

The woman cares for the physical well-being of her 
household, ensuring there is food and clothes for all. 
The woman ensures that there are fair relationships 
between the members of the family, making peace 
when there is conflict or inequality. Finally, the 
woman also labors to ensure that the members of the 
household have moral integrity. 

The issues that women are concerned about center 
around caring for the family and the wellbeing of 
those around them. Specifically, women tend to be 


concerned about the following issues like Care¬ 
giving to children, husbands, and others in the 
household; Provide the care that is necessary for 
healing children, husbands, or brothers are sick or 
injured; In education, they ensure that school fees are 
paid, encourage children to read their books; they give 
moral guidance to children to become responsible 
members of the society and they provide harmony 
When there is conflict within the family. (Korb, 2011) 

The traditional African concept of peace in almost all 
the cultures of Cameroon, peace was equated with 
‘freshness,’ health, well-being, harmony, calm and 
tranquility. ..When there was enough food for 
everyone, peace would reign in homes and families, 
clans and tribes. As nobody had any reason to be 
envious of anybody else, neighboring communities 
could live in peace, visit one another during the off¬ 
seasons and attend weddings and funerals” (Ngongo- 
Mbede, 2003, p. 28). This quote describes two of the 
three elements of shalom: physical well-being and 
relationships that are characterized by justice and 
equity. 

More recently Korb (2011) stated that a Liberian 
woman gave this definition of peace that contains all 
three elements of peace On the personal level, peace 
for me is...a positive frame of mind - psychological 
wellbeing that allows me to be able to live from day 
to day as a rational, thinking, caring, responsible 
person. Peace on the national level for me 
means...that there are no insurrections, there are no 
military outbreaks. That law and law enforcement will 
be respected.. .Peace on the social level means that we 
realize, all of us, the importance of individuals as 
human beings, and we respect their rights to live and 
operate as independent human beings. That people 
realize our interdependence and the necessity to work 
together as a people in various groups but having a 
thread of unity running throughout” (African Women 
and Peace Support Group, 2004). 

Men and women generally have different conflict 
management styles. The men may be hard in their 
approach and actually succeeding bu women typically 
adopt softer styles such as collaboration, compromise 
or avoiding, meanwhile men are more likely to use 
competing or avoiding. Collaboration produces more 
constructive outcomes for disputing parties and 
compromising behavior helps ensure harmonies, and 
lasting relationships. Hard bargaining tactics may be 
socially costly as well. As a result women’s 


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International Journal of Trend in Scientific Research and Development (IJTSRD) ISSN: 2456-6470 


collaborative approach is more productive and 
efficient than men’s hard bargaining tactics. This 
gender distinction has sometimes be recognized and 
used in conflict resolution at home and out of home 
(Cassandra, 2015) 

Actions and Activities of Women in Peace building 

Peace building activities by women include a wide 
range of actions and activities which are carried in the 
family and the community and sometimes beyond 
national boundary. In Cameroon, Africa and other 
parts of the world, women have always made a unique 
contribution in the peace-building process. In some 
areas, in peace-building and any other development, 
women’s role therefor cannot be ignored and their 
contribution brings development, not only for 
themselves, but as well as for their entire 
communities, nation and world. Women can bring 
different issues in front of the world and can as well 
as their male counterparts make better decisions to 
solve these issues. They can better understand the 
issues and can truelly solve real problems and issues. 
(African Women and Peace Support Group, 2004) 

Women as peace builders in the family. 

Their contribution to peace at family level can show 
up in a number of ways: 

i-The Education of Children and care of the family 

Women play a great role in educating the children, 
management and organization of everything 
connected with the home. Women train their children 
practical and morally, in areas such as: 

> Household tasks 

> Greeting parents in the morning , 

> Creating cordial relationship with neighbors 

> Educating the daughter who has reached the age 
of puberty 

Well trained children grow up to build a moral society 
and this promotes peace. Daughters who are trained 
not to be lazy, dirty, and quarrelsome but well 
behaved, will promote less conflict in the society 
when they meet with people of diverse cultures. 

> Women also play an advisory role in relations 
with their husbands. They Men are always 
considered to be over controlling and high 
tempered, but women are always there to calm 
them down and establish peace at home. This 
clearly establishes the fact that women are peace 
makers. 


> Women’s role is ensuring that there is food 
contributes to establishing peace. When there’s 
enough food for everyone, peace reigns in homes, 
families, clans and tribes (Anderlini,2007) 

ii- Women as symbol of unity between families. 

From a structural and institutional point of view, a 
woman’s calling in marriage creates a link binding 
two families, two clans, two ethnic groups or even 
two nationalities. The freedom of inter marriage has 
made the woman a symbol of unity. Also women’s 
natural qualities of compassion, patience, discretion, 
gentleness, modesty and self-control reinforce their 
ability to unite families from different ethnic groups 
and maintain peace. (Anderlini, 2007 op.cit) 

iii- Women as mediators in the couple, home and 
family 

As seen in some families in most of the communities 
in Cameroon, women mediate between children and 
their fathers (parents) and between other families 
menbers. Girls after being well trained by their 
mothers always take care of their 
younger ones in ensuring that the younger ones are 
doing well together while 

their mother is busy with family and other jobs. The 
older girls or sisters most of 

the time are engaged in consoling, caressing and 
comforting as well as handling 

little conflicts that take place among the children at 
home.( Roohia ,2012). 

Okoro (2013) in his Women and Peace Initiative in 
Igbo Traditional Society highlighted how women can 
be useful peace makers through their marriage.In 
some communities in Cameroon, in the polygamous 
marriages, the first wife (called Dada Save among 
Fulbe, Kindag among the Bassa, Ekomba among the 
Beti), is chief mediator of conflicts in the family. She 
is responsible for restoring peace during conflicts 
between husband and one of his wives. The first wife 
has great influence over her husband in two other 
ways;In the Beti tradition, being the first wife she is 
initiated and entrusted with all family secrets and is 
given official responsibility by her mother inlaw for 
relieving tension and ensuring a harmonious family 
relationships and in the Beti and Bassa Communities 
the first wife is sometimes invited with the men in the 
assemblies.(UNESCO,2003) 

Examples from Somali also, show women engaged in 

informal peace building within their own homes. 

As they raise their children, the women try to teach 


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tolerance and explain the futility of violence. They try 
everything to prevent their sons from being lured into 
violence. Somali women also try to get their husbands 
to renounce violence, threatening to leave them if they 
do not stop playing an active role in violence. Sisters 
try to convince their brothers that violence only leads 
to death and destruction. Likewise, in Indonesia, 
women are concerned that one of the worst outcomes 
of the ongoing conflict is that children will be 
destroyed by harboring feelings of revenge against the 
other religion’s community. To curtail these feelings 
of revenge, women are starting at the family level 
where values are taught and socialized. Since the 
family unit is the place where either a peaceful spirit 
is planted or negative attitudes are developed, women 
are coming together to try to socialize their children 
towards peace (Nwoye 2004). Still about peace in the 
family, in Nigeria, some Muslim women share about 
peace with other women at naming ceremonies, 
weddings, and other social gatherings. If something 
threatens the peace of the family, then that problem 
becomes the woman’s issue. In Jos and other areas of 
Nigeria, that peace is being threatened different 
women’s groups often cry out for peace in different 
ways. (Agustiana & Pakpahan) 

B-Womens contribution to peace building in their 
immediate community and nation. 

Women work at the grassroots level to organize for 
peace, though majority of their voices go unheard 
during formal processes, including: peace 

negotiations, disarmament, demobilization and 
reintegration (DDR), constitution-creation, elections, 
reconstruction, rehabilitation, reconciliation, and 
establishing a judicial system. 

Women do mediation in the village and 
Community 

In some villages, most of the time when there is a 
problem that threatens peace, it is usually the young 
girl that is push forward or the woman who makes the 
move for peace. Among the the different ethnic 
groups like in the South West Region in Cameroon 
the Bakossi for example, it is the paternal aunts who 
are responsible for reconciling the individuals 
involved in a conflict. In the North West Province 
(Nwa Subdivision), women play the role of mediators 
during discussions in the Lus-Mfumte. Still in this 
community is a very influential secret society called 
the Djudju whose members initially were exclusively 
women. The role of the Djudju women in that 
community initially was to maintain peace in the 


community but unfortunately, the men took over. 
Women are also known as a natural mediator. The 
appearance of a pregnant woman where there is 
violence, most of the time is like an automatic halt of 
violence and call for rethinking violence.(African 
Women and Peace Support Group, 2004 ) 

The pregnant woman symbolized peace among the 
Tikar (Kom, Menda, Bali etc) and Tchamba 
communities of the North-West Province. Among the 
Guidar, the Mazake or old women played the role of 
keeping watch over the community. Women are alert 
and react immediately to all signs of destructive 
conflict between members of the community. In the 
land of the Mungo, for example and more particularly 
among the Mbo any misfortune occurring in the 
community brought the latter to seek the mediation of 
the Kalbia who were married women recognized by 
the clanswomen as having supernatural 
powers(UNESCO Women and Peace 2003). Women 
meet with the leaders of violent groups to convince 
them to stop the fighting. During the Liberian war, 
the women used their positions as mothers and sisters 
to encourage the fighters to stop... (African Women 
and Peace Support Group, 2004 op.cit). 

Women provide food and shelter for individuals 
who were affected by the violence. 

Food and shelter is good support for those in conflict 
fighting for peace. Ruth Caesar said, “Even giving 
someone a cup of water is peace...If one sat down 
with a group of women to discuss their problems that 
is peace...If you shared your meal with another 
family who came into the displaced camp you were 
in, that’s peace. If you talked to a young girl who was 
raped, that’s peace. So we had to get involved in all 
those things” (African Women and Peace Support 
Group, 2004) 37).In this way describe women 
contribute to peace. 

Women provide psychological healing. This is done 
particularly through trauma counseling. When all 
individuals, but particularly children, experience 
traumatic events especially during conflict, these 
young victims need support to be able to overcome 
the anxiety, fear, and hurt that they experienced. 
Women can promote psychological healing through 
their feminine nurturing by providing a listening ear 
as the traumatized share their traumatic experiences 
and their feelings. Women can also provide the 
support that is necessary for them to heal from the 


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traumatic event (McGee, 2005) as also found in 
Okoro( 2013) 

Women create awareness for the need for peace 
seen in shared stories of injury that provides 
awareness for the need for peaceful interventions. 

Women shared their stories by issuing statements to 
key national and international leaders. Women also 
attended international conferences and highlighted the 
plight of women in Liberia.Korb (2011) indicated that 
Evelyn Kandakai said, “One of our strategies was 
awareness building. We had what we called a Peace 
Education Extravaganza and a Children’s Peace 
Festival...We took a peace theatre...We were able to 
organize a peace education and resource center...We 
were one of the groups that brought about the 
environment for people to want to sing about peace, to 
talk about peace, to get involved in peace education 
and peacemaking” (African Women and Peace 
Support Group, 2004). Some women organized 
prayer and fasting sessions. In 1994, Liberian 
Women’s Initiative called for all members to hold 
nightly prayer services in their homes at 10 pm for the 
restoration of peace. These examples have been seen 
in Cameroon and other African countries. 

iV-Women provide Peace through Women’s Civil 
Society and close work with national government. 

While the virtual absence of women from the peace 
table is disturbing, women as individuals or part of a 
women’s movement have played critical roles in 
promoting inter-ethnic dialogue, providing innovative 
local solutions and ensuring that there are voices of 
reason and even protest when heightened pressure has 
been necessary. From “Sierra Leone, Colombia, 
Nepal, Sri Lanka, Serbia, Northern Ireland, Uganda, 
Somalia, Cyprus ...women have made contributions 
that were significant and valuable in those contexts 
that began the transition from war to peace.” 

At institutional level through the influence of the 
government women can effectively contribute to 
peace building concerns. In Rwanda because of the 
impact of genocide on development. A Gender Desk 
was established in the law ministry, which resulted in 
reformed inheritance and marriage laws. The Justice 
and Reconciliation Committee incorporated women 
judges who were very useful for action for peace 
especially with concerns related to gender.( United 
State Dept. ,2015 ) 

In Kenya through the Center for Humanitarian 


Dialogue: Women at the Peace Table.In response to 
the growing post-election violence of December 2007, 
the African Union (AU) deployed a Panel of Eminent 
African Personalities to assist with the Kenyan 
mediation process. This panel included a female, 
Grace Machel, as one of the three lead negotiators to 
assist in the mediation process. Much of their 
contribution is seen analysis from the outcome of this 
roundtable (United Nations Security Council, 2000). 

In Ghana though at institutional level there is not 
much attention to gender, The National Peace Council 
that was established as part of the National 
Architecture for Peace the Mothers for Active Non- 
Violence Local Peace Councils and Gender Training 
for promoting peace and stability has been very 
involved in the peace building process. As typical of 
the absence of women in politics, the DPACs 
currently have minimal female participation with the 
Northern Regional Peace Council comprised of 25 
men and 3 women. With the help of UNDP, Mothers 
for Active Non Violence was able to train members of 
Peace Councils regions and advocate for the 
importance of more female representation on the 
Councils. (Korb, 2011) 

In Sierra Leone and Liberia Women’s organizations 
and human rights groups(NGO’S and civil societies 
have been very active in their contribution to peace 
The have been demanding a larger participatory role 
and greater accountability for the rights of women in 
the security sector. Women Peace and Security 
Network Africa) does training for accountability and 
Responsiveness to Gender Equality and Women’s 
Rights to ensure more responsive and accountable 
delivery of security as a public good to all citizens. 
According to some female activist the participation of 
women and the integration of gender and women’s 
rights perspectives in SSR can help to decrease 
gender-based violence. (Korb, 2011) 

In Sudan indications for Women during conflict and 
peace in Sudan show some women’s organizations 
have developed purposely to protect human rights, 
others to challenge women’s oppression and gender 
inequality in post conflict situations and general 
reconstruction. Though women have challenges like 
threat of landmines, lack of agricultural inputs, and 
lack of legal right to land as a resource which all 
reduced their ability to survive; Sudanese women 
learned self-empowerment during war, through 
various activities like small income generating 


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various, skills, promotion, conflict resolution, peace 
building initiatives and literacy campaigns(UNESCO, 
2003)Women suffered during war.Man-made 
disasters affect both men and women, especially 
women and children; both are vastly marginalized in 
the communities that face war from social 
stigmatization, sociological and metal affliction from 
their toil as direct effect of the war, Women have also 
taken the initiative to form a women’s caucus within 
the Government of National Unity. Since 2008, 
SuWEP has conducted capacity building trainings to 
educate and some other women’s empowerment 
activities that helps women and even men to work 
together. (USAID, 2000). 

v-Women work for warring factions to disarm. 

In a number of African countries, women have done 
one or two things Ruth Sando Perry, a former head of 
the Liberian Council of State, said, “We all know that 
African countries do not make guns. We don’t make 
warlike materials - they’re given to us. We take over 
rich resources - gold, diamonds - we sell them 
and...instead of getting things to build our country... 
[we get things] to destroy our country” (African 
Women and Peace Support Group, 2004, p). In 
Somalia, women have written songs and poems that 
encourage peace (Mohamed, 2003). They have even 
organized contests calling for poems that discourage 
violence and promote peace. Faduma Qasim Hilwle 
and Zeinab Hagi Ali wrote the following song about 
peace on behalf of Somali women saying In the name 
of marriage, love and friendship women are calling 
for peace (Mohamed, 2003). 

Apart from the above, there are many activities that 
women can do to foster peace in hearts, peace in 
society, and physical peace. Strategic peace building 
requires many activities from many different actors in 
many different ways. 

5.0 CASE STUDIES ON WOMEN 
CONTRIBUTION TO PEACE IN CAMEROON 
Women during Conflict and Peace in Cameroon 

Just like the other African women, Cameroonian 
Women are involved in the socio economic and other 
activities in the country during time of peace and in 
the time of war. Since the country has hardly been 
involved in war, hardly involved in war, the women 
have had little to do with war, except for the Bafanfji 
- Balinkumbat tribal war and the case of 
“Takumbeng” activities in the North West Region of 
Cameroon, the conflict situation in Bakassi and the 


Boko Haram crises in the Northern Regions of 
Cameroon.(Nkenzeke,2014) In Cameroon Women in 
Alternative Action s have women’s local peace 
initiative. While Cameroon is not currently in a 
formal state of conflict the country faces a rising tide 
of violence, often directed at women. Cameroon 
women face not only “domestic violence and sexual 
abuse but also harmful traditional practices. These 
include female genital mutilation and widowhood 
rites that cause physical and psychological suffering. 
This problem is further exacerbated in rural 
communities where women are often restricted by 
cultural barriers from accessing information or 
voicing their concerns. To address this growing 
problem women’s organizations are developing 
gender-based local peace initiatives within these rural 
communities. (The advocates for Human rights 2014) 

In women and social groups in Cameroom, Women in 
Alternative Action (WAA) Cameroon recently 
initiated (2009) a “Queens for Peace Initiative” (QPI) 
with the objective of bringing together wives of 
traditional leaders to make their voices heard 
especially regarding how issues of conflict resolution 
and peace-building are handled in rural communities. 
In rural villages within North West Cameroon, ‘Fons’ 
(Male Traditional Authorities) assume full control of 
conflict resolution and the peaceful administration of 
their Fondoms. The wives of the chiefs and Fons or 
the ‘Queens’ have often been neglected from these 
processes and the value of their position within the 
community and among rural women is not fully 
recognized or utilized. This is true despite the 
contention of Justine Kwachu Kumche (Executive 
Director of WAA Cameroon) that the Queens “are 
endowed with special privileges among women in 
traditional settings and are the guarantors of cultures 
and customary practices which are buried in the 
psyche of the women they represent.”( Okoro, as in 
Roohia ,2012).) 

Through the QPI program the organization is seeking 
to expand the voice of the Queens and by extension 
other women in the community. WAA has conducted 
several workshops to build their capacities and train 
them with mediation and conflict resolution skills, 
gender and human rights as well as legislative 
knowledge. 

They stated “We are aiming to break the silence on 
discriminatory traditional practices that hamper the 
progress of women, enhance the integration and 
inclusion of rural women in the community peace 


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processes and building the capacity of these women” 
Justine Kwachu Kumche, WAA Cameroon, 20 .To 
address and even overcome cultural barriers and 
traditional gender roles WAA undertakes creative 
strategies to gain access to local women. Often WAA 
first needed to convince the husbands (the Fons) and 
extend the invitation to participate through them. With 
assistance from the Ministry of Women’s 
Empowerment and Family and through additional 
dialogue with the Fons, the organization was able to 
make rapid headway and received a large response 
from the Queens, signaling a positive start to the 
program (Ngongo-Mbede, 2003). 

Womens participation in peace building during war 
has been seen in the: The Bafanji - Balikumbat Tribal 
War Takumbeng women activities in the North West 
Region of Cameroon 

In the North West Region of Cameroon, there was the 
Bafanji and Blikumbat land dispute in 1968. In 1990, 
the Balikumbat leadership was changed and with the 
multiparty democracy attempts to define the 
boundaries by the Biya government, led to this tribal 
war between the Bafanji and the Balikumbat over the 
land. There were serious effects of this tribal war on 
the woman and the men. Here women were mostly 
care givers and mail runners. In the example of the 
Takumbeng women activities in the North West 
Region of Cameroon, This women Activist group 
took part in the Cameroon democratic crusade and its 
polarization in the context of multiparty politics and 
democratization. During this period these female riots 
protests and democratizations have been recorded in 
certain societies like in Cameroon when women in the 
North West Region marched naked and brought 
government to release Ni John Fru Ndi, leader of the 
Social Democratic Front party in Cameroon and other 
party militants who were under house arrest shortly 
after the release of the results of the 1993 Presidential 
Election.(Global conscience initiative (2011) 

In the Bakassi boarder crises of Cameroon and 
Nigeria in the South West Region of Cameroon that 
lasted for more than ten years, Women in the Bakassi 
area and their sympathsers have been involved in 
local, national and international peace conferences to 
discuss issues in peace and security building 
especially those affecting the female gender. Their 
participation has intensified especially with news of 
continues threats of the Boko Haram Crises in the Far 
North Region of Cameroon where some women are 


victims of rape, kidnapping and other forms of 
Gender Based Violence.(Kindzeka, 2014 ) 

The above examples of women in peace building in 
other countries in Africa and Cameroon, highlights 
courageous and dedicated women and their 
organizations activities .This reports are intended to 
be show the vast and largely underrepresentation of of 
women in major political and social activism for work 
done by women to maintain and restore peace in 
Africa. 

In the North West Region of Cameroon, the Political 
and Social Movements for Peace and Conflict 
Resolution by the Takembeng Women of the North 
West Region, Cameroon. 

Photo six: Takumbeng Female Demonstrations for 
Peace (http://ukscnc.co.uk/2017/09/23/454/) 
Takembeng is a movement of Women in the North 
West Region of Cameroon. This group which is 
mostly made up of women in post-menopausal ages is 
referred to in a variety of different ways including; 
Takumbeng, Amazons, Les Amazons des SDF and 
Mami Takembeng. The socio-political mobilizations 
of the Takembeng women are the latest in the long 
history of female mobilizations in the Western Grass 
fields of Cameroon. Takumbeng women are “Peace 
Makers”, they always come out with the aim to fix a 
particular problem that affects the community. Their 
movements in promoting peace in Cameroon can be 
divided into three major sections including; Political 
movements for peace, Economic activities and Moral 
Guardianship. 

Takembeng Political Movements for Peace and 
Conflict Resolution role of maintaining peace in 
Cameroon, began in the 1950’s and 60’s towards the 
end of the colonial control. They contributed to the 
struggle and attainment of liberation from colonial 
rule and are major supporters for Democracy. Their 
local movements were based on protest against 
established policies which did not favor the smooth 
running of the Community. The most significant 
during this period is the 1958-1961 political Anlu in 
Kom, were women who were upset about the 
Agricultural policy came out to ensure that the right 
thing is done (Sagi-Schwartz, 2012) 

This group of women in those days used their bodies 
to fight for freedom. To support the effectiveness of 
the use of their bodies, Davis (1997) states that the 
female body has proven to be the site of women’s 
“subversive” practices and struggles for self- 


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determination and empowerment. The display of the 
nakedness of the African Woman was and remains her 
expression of utter anger and outrage of both public 
injustice and private male viciousness. During the 
1990 political liberalization the Takumbeng women 
played a crucial role in disrupting troops from 
elsewhere in Cameroon by stripping in front of them. 
Takumbeng women play a key role as mediators to 
fons and traditional leaders in the case of crisis and 
conflict. They are a source of inspiration, councellors, 
advisers, traditional protectors of Fons and Traditional 
Leaders. They support the SDF to ensure that it holds 
to the ideals and values of the party. In the Bambilli 
Village of Bamenda, the Takumbeng women who 
meet every “Contry Sunday” assist the Fon in the 
resolving conflicts of the village. This eases the work 
of the Fon in the community, as the dominance and 
power of these women is well known by all 
individuals. (Global conscience initiative, 2011) 

These women provide Moral Guardianship for Peace 
by Takembeng Women. A major objective of the 
Takembeng Women is to ensure that the village is 
clean and pure. They promote cordial relationships 
with neighbors and uphold the command of God to 
“Love your neighbor as yourself’. This has helped to 
promote peace in the North West Region and 
Cameroon. Throughout communities in the grass field 
of Cameroon, there is a longstanding practice of 
women gathering together as moral guardians of the 
community and shaming individuals who break key 
rules. The Takembeng women play a key role in 
maintaining the morality of individuals in the North 
West community. They often use outlandish behavior 
in the ostracizing of individuals in order to highlight 
the severity of an offense and to prevent other people 
from breaking the rules. This group which is made up 
of mostly women in post-menopausal ages gathers to 
shame individuals by singing songs, dressing in male 
attires or naked to bring out the severity of the 
offence. The Takumbeng women contribute much to 
the guidance of Traditional doctrines and cultures in 
the North West Region, by ensuring that it is 
transmitted and maintained from one generation to 
another. They do this by teaching the younger 
generation the values, ideals of traditions including; 
songs, traditional languages, dressing codes, 
traditional meals, respect of Fons and chiefdoms, 
respect which must be offered to different Gods, 
interpretation of codes and signs, just to name a few. 
The massive deviation from national cultures and 
tradition, towards western cultures has been noted as 


one of the major reasons for the up rise and spread of 
conflict globally .(Fomba, 2007) 

Takumbeng Economic Activities for Peace is also 
important to these women. Agriculture and the 
establishment of “Njangi” sub groups are major 
efforts Takumbeng women carry out for peace and 
development in Cameroon. Majority of members of 
this group are farmers producing crops such as cocoa, 
cocoyam, potatoes, plantains, Rice, maize, Cassava 
and yams. These agricultural activities promote peace 
and conflict resolution by; providing food for the 
home and community, generating income gotten from 
sale of this food, and providing jobs for women who 
can’t work in the public sphere for lack of jobs and 
illiteracy. Within the large group of women are sub 
“Njangi” groups, were money is invested, save and 
used after sometime. This “Njangi” groups in a long 
run increasing the level of circulation of physical 
money in the country, thereby reducing rates of 
inflation at a National level. (Kindzeka, 2014) 

In the Bamileke’s highlands of Cameroon also some 
individuals like twin mothers and the twin themselves 
are considered as agents of peace. Amongs the 
Bamileke, according to Ngongo-Mbede (2003), the 
Magne, or mothers of twins, were considered blessed 
by God. Their mission was, first of all, one of peace. 
The arrival of a Magne in a place of conflict had the 
immediate effect of stopping the hostile acts. Once in 
the midst of the confrontation, she assumed 
responsibility for reconciling the belligerents. She 
divided the ‘tree of peace’ into two and offered a 
piece to each of the protagonists as a token of 
reconciliation. Twins themselves were seen as tree of 
peace planted in the family. Her role consisted, 
therefore, in bringing everybody together, and 
considering everyone as her own child. In every 
situation, she had to endeavour to restore the peace 
required for the smooth functioning of the chiefdom. 
The Mafo also played the role of intermediary, in 
other words of mediator, between the chief and his 
subjects. But to gain trust and respect, the Mafo had 
herself to be just and to show integrity(Ngongo- 
Mbede,2003) 

The Cameroonian study underscored the fact that in 
the traditional African societies the first wife was 
sometimes invited to deliberate with the men in the 
Assemblies. As a woman in what were essentially 
masculine forums, one of her tasks was to ‘soften’ 
sentences considered to be too severe or which could 
lead to revolt or revenge. Similarly some other other 


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studies reviewed drew attention to the special place in 
society afforded to paternal aunts in matters of crisis 
management and conflict resolution in traditional 
Africa. Thus, among the Bakossi of Cameroon, it was 
paternal aunts or lineage daughters ( Umuada, among 
the Igbo of Nigeria) who were responsible for 
reconciling the individuals involved in a conflict. 
Other categories of women were given to play the 
same role in other societies. Hence among the Guidar 
of Cameroon, the Mazake or old women played the 
role of keeping watch over the community. They were 
on the alert, and reacted immediately at the least sign 
of destructive conflict between the members of the 
community. If they noticed signs of conflict or an 
insidious quarrel, they promptly summoned the 
protagonists in order to question and calm them. After 
this discussion, the mamas kept a watchful eye on 
them for an appreciable length of time, until they were 
satisfied that the conflict had been well and truly 
settled and forgotten. When they are satisfied that 
their advice had borne fruit, they again summoned the 
two protagonists and asked them to drink some bil-bil 
together, and then to seal their reconciliation with a 
kiss to celebrate peace.(Okoro,2013 op.cit) 

During peace in Cameroon, there are womens groups 
and institutions that effectively contribute to peace 
building. Examples of groups and institutions include 
Christian Workmen’s Groups like the Catholic 
Womens Association (CWA),Christian Women 
Fellowship(CWF) of the Presbyterian Church in 
Cameroon. The CWA and CWF through the years 
have spent substantial amounts of money in 
implementing a variety of projects geared towards 
reaching out to the sick, the aged, prisoners, paying 
school fees for orphans and other needy children, 
organizing workshops and seminars to educate youths 
on current issues such as child trafficking, HIV/AIDS 
awareness, the effect of the media, the environment 
and globalization which are all usful components for 
peace buildind. The CWA,CWF and other religious 
women’s groups have constantly provided moral and 
financial assistance to Cameroons seminaries, clergy, 
religious, catechists and other members of the 
association(Mbuagbo,2006) as in Bisong (2018) 

When it comes to women’s institutions Circle of 
Friends of Cameroon in French ;Cercle Des Amis du 
Cameroun(CERAC) that promotes peace in 
Cameroon by contributing much in the following 
areas; Education of the young girl, health, 
Agricultural, help to vulnerable children in 


orphanages, fight against poverty, and assistance to 
victims of crisis and war. The Founding President, 
Mrs Biya is the leader of this group that also have 
some women as members from the diplomatic. Wing 
of the Circle. The association caries out humanitarian 
projects which fully intensify solidarity crusade in all 
the ten regions of the country as well as to implement 
projects of humanitarian assistance to vulnerable 
populations, improve living conditions, health and 
access to education for all kids. In the domain of 
Education, CERAC has been involved in the 
Construction and renovation of Schools in Cameroon. 
A good example is the case of construction of schools 
in Menji and Mora in 2017. The Circle of Friends in 
October 2017 sponsored a Computer training program 
of 340 individuals (255 women and 82 men) 
participants, at the Belo Worn 
(https://www.crtv.cm/2017/12/cerac-bilan-activites- 
perspectives-2018CERAC‘s solidarity train svisit all 
the nooks and crannies of Cameroon with messages of 
hope and gifts of love, but also cross the borders of 
Cameroon to neighboring Gabon. With exchanging 
views with women especially on how they can make 
Cameroon Africa a better place for all its citizens 
.Some of its projects especially those of 2015 and 
2016 in the Far North, North, Centre and South West 
Regions, the women had charitable activities in 
Gabon. Eater, with the donation of agricultural tools 
and gifts to youths in the East and South Regions. The 
non-profit making organization of the First Fady also 
rehabilitate and equip several district hospitals in the 
country. Amongst such hospitals is the Idenau Health 
Centre in Fako Division, South West Region, 
Bassamba Hospital in the West Region and the Faro 
and Deo Health Centre in the Adamawa Region. 
(CERAC .NEWS. ACHIVES, 2017) 

Their enormous support to stability in the country has 
promoted peace in each of these domains. At least 35 
000 persons in Cameroon have benefited from the 
philanthropic actions of the CERAC women 

Since peace in Africa is seen equivalent to health and 
well-being, there is need for the introduction of 
welfare measures in various local African 
governments to benefit large families: housing, health 
care, means of transport and communication, loans 
and early child education. In this way, there is need to 
assess the opportunities for practices which go beyond 
the restitution of ‘negative peace’, that is, the mere 
absence of war, to promote ‘positive peace, i.e. 
conditions and practices of political and social non- 
violence.(Chinoa 2016) 


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CHALLENGES WOMEN FACE IN THEIR 
CONTRIBUTION TO PEACE BUILDING 

There are gender issues affecting Peace building in 
the different sectors of the country. Issues of violence 
against women and girls (particularly sexual and 
domestic), gender inequalities in access to and control 
over resources (for example, family lands, etc.)gender 
inequalities in power and decision-making, women’s 
human rights (particularly reproductive rights), etc., 
constitute grave concerns for women, particularly 
rural women. Lack of participation and representation 
of women in the domestic and international 
institutions of war and peace such as parliaments, 
government, foreign and defense ministries, armies, 
peace keeping mission or UN institution constitute a 
serious democratic deficit. In addition, no democratic 
state can accept high levels of individual or collective 
violence against some group in that society, y. (Tirzi, 
2013 op.cit .With the unanimous adoption of 
Resolution 1325 by the United Nations Security 
Council (UNESCO ) in October 2000, women’s role 
in, and potentials for peace building have gained 
global, regional and national attention. Consequently, 
the last six years have been characterized by the 
identify cation of key issues on women, peace and 
security, and the development of interventions to 
address them. The challenge now is on how to ensure 
that these policy instruments and other 
recommendations are implemented, and not in a 
‘token’ manner, but in a way that demonstrates that 
women are really partners in the process. 

In Cameroon there are large socio-cultural, economic, 
political and other discrepancies between men and 
women that affect peace building and generally 
impede development. These gaps are closely related 
to issues of gender inequality that disadvantage 
women and leaves in an inferior position to men. The 
government of Cameroon in collaboration with other 
Africa states, Civil Society and some organizations 
like the UNO are particularly involved in programs 
that empower women for development, especially as 
the Gender equality and women's empowerment goal 
is central to sustainable development. Major issues 
include: 

Women Lack political strength and political vision. 

Although Cameroon’s constitution upholds principles 
of gender equality there are still some aspects of 
inequality in the society. Five Proportion of seats 
held by women in national parliament as by 2016. 
The proportion of seats held by women in the national 


parliament of Cameroon has been a jagged progress. 
Indeed, if during the 1992-1996 legislature, women 
held 12.8% of the seats, they held5.2% of the seats in 
the 1997-2001 one, and 10.6% of the seats in the 
2002-2006 one. Following the legislative elections of 
2007-2012, women represented 13.9% of the national 
Parliament and in 2013 there are 56 women out of the 
180 seats. Overall, MDG3 remains dire in Cameroon. 
Ratio of girls to boys’ enrollment at the primary level 
will likely be attained by 2015, but it's uncertain for 
the secondary level and highly improbable at the 
tertiary level and for parity at the national 
Parliaments. The number of Women with ministerial 
post since 1995 has been on the increase for by 2010 
there were 06 women out of 62 men (9.68%) and 
today two. 

They suffer from “political illiteracy”. They lack an 
ideological framework that could give teeth to a 
strong position adopted by a collective women’s. 
Peace building as a political activity and therefore 
requires political strategy for engagement (Rono, 
2000 ). 

Lack of experience, exposure and skills in 
negotiation, advocacy and lobbying techniques keeps 
them secluded from the political arena and sphere of 
decision-making; therefore, in many situations they 
are unable to participate effectively in peace building 
processes. Without a political platform, women are on 
the margins of action and lack confidence in 
participating in the peace building process. With the 
Lack of visibility their conflict-resolution activities 
are confined to the informal sector, very often at the 
periphery of official peace negotiation. In addition, 
even if women contribute to the promotion of peace, 
they are not invited to participate in formal 
negotiations. Lack of sustainability in political 
participation is a problem to women because 
representation does not necessarily mean meaningful 
and recognized participation that has an impact on 
substantial inputs in peace agreement. In addition, 
once a peace process is over, women often return to 
more traditional activities, losing their gains and 
public presence. These losses make it very difficult 
for women to return to the public stage later when 
resolution begins. 

The state of women’s access to and control of 
productive resources in Cameroon is not very 
good. 


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Cameroon is a signatory to international policy and 
legal frameworks aimed at ensuring women’s access 
to resources notably; Convention on the Elimination 
of All Forms of Discrimination against Women 
(CEDAW), The Protocol on Women’s Rights, Beijing 
Platform for Action and the Solemn Declaration on 
Gender Equality in Africa (United Nations Economic 
Commission for Africa, 2007). In spite of these 
international and other national policy and legislative 
framework, wide gulfs still exist between women and 
men in access to resources leaving women with an 
inferior position to negotiate peace or preserve 
peace.Women producers in Cameroon have limited 
land owenership.The 1974 Land Tenure Ordinance 
guarantees equal access to land for all citizens, but 
customary laws and practices that discriminate against 
women’s still prevail (Nfomgwa, 2014), so though 
women constitute more than 50 percent of the 
Cameroonian population, they own less than 2% of 
the land (USAID, 2012).Women have limited control 
over income and access to financial services. Most 
financial programmes have been largely designed, 
with the male head of household as the intended client 
with the failure to see women as active, productive 
and engaged economic agents with their own financial 
needs and constraints. Limited ownership to land (the 
most widely used collateral in Cameroon), limit their 
access to credit and therefore they have insufficient 
cash to purchase agricultural inputs or expand their 
businesses. (Nfomgwa, 2014 op.cit). 

Inadequate access to natural and other resources can 
pose real problems to women’s initiation and general 
preservation of peace. Women have limited access to 
education and insufficient access to extensive services 
(eg training ) and the use of ICT and general 
networking because of tradition and stereotype. This 
cause some of the past peace mediation methods they 
applied in the past without reassessing to see which of 
them can be modified for adoption for promoting 
peace among warring families, communities and 
nations in their country or modem Africa.In the 
northern regions and some rural localities of 
Cameroon, the male-child or son preference is a 
dominant cultural practicethat limits the girl child or 
womens education (Kassea et al, 2009).Limited 
education continues to widen the gender gap that is an 
obstacle in their participation in decision making and 
other round table conferences for peace talks during 
conflicts or post war reconstmction. 


Even though it is widely accepted that the potential to 
advance women economically may be the most 
exciting transformative feature of technology (Kirrin, 
2010), there is limited access to basic processing and 
storage of perishable goods. The female farmers in the 
coastal regions and Bameliki highlands involved in 
vegetable farming and smoking of fish often loose 
part of their products before they reach the local 
markets. They have limited access to both traditional 
and modem technologies and continue to use labor- 
intensive methods, undermining their agricultural 
productivity. Problems with modem technologies 
such as internet, phones, radios etc. also deprive them 
of the basic benefits of technology, such as efficient 
household energy for cooking, heating, and lighting, 
as well as for home-based quality transport 
infrastructure useful for agricultural and industrial 
activities. The rural poor, majority of whom are 
women, have access to fuels that are inefficient in 
converting to energy. Thus rural women 
disproportionately lack access to clean, efficient, 
reliable, safe, and affordable energy service options. 
(Kirrin, 2010 op.cit), 

ii- Violations of women's rights in, persistent 
discriminatory legislation; violence against women, 
including harmful traditional practices such as early 
and forced marriage and female genital mutilation. 
Despite the existence of the law prohibiting rape, 
there are concerns about its effectiveness in 
preventing sexual violence and providing protection 
and justice for victims. Cases of rape are still widely 
reported among youths and even married women.This 
is considered as real violence 

iii- Women have limited access to education because 
of tradition and stereotype, Preference of males to 
females in education in some societies, distance 
location of schools especially in rural areas is a big 
hindrance especially to girls. Restricted resources and 
entitlements with respect to discriminatory customary 
practices which restrict women’s access to school. 

iv- Women Lack resources (material and 
financial): Inadequate financial and other resources 
for women is a call for cncem.Most of the time 
women’s groups lack the means to back up their 
actions. In some instances, they are unable to get 
across to the media network to enhance their peace 
campaign because they do not have a budget for 
multi-dimensional activities. Further, they are not part 
of main fund raising channels and networks. They 


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work on a voluntary basis at the grassroots levels, 
pooling their own resources together to get an office, 
desk, and phone line. Their limited access to public 
and political life and health services for Women are 
largely in control of the non-income economy of what 
Elson 19995 refers to as the care economy through 
bearing and raising children and providing much of 
the labour for household maintenance and subsistence 
agriculture. (Nfomgwa, 2014 op.cit). 

v- Cameroon’s discriminatory laws towards women 

Cameroon’s laws remain deeply discriminatory 
towards women and, despite observations and 
recommendations made by the CEDAW Committee 
to the Cameroon government in 2000 and 2009, no 
legal reforms have been undertaken to increase 
protection of women’s human rights. Furthermore, 
customary law is applied alongside statutory law, 
creating numerous contradictions and inconsistencies. 
Restricted civil liberties with respect to discriminatory 
attitudes about the role of women in public life 
especially wit aspects of major decision making in 
traditional and other councils in the society(United 
State Dept. (2015) On the contribution of women’s 
religious groups, insisted on the recognition and 
appreciation of fellow women who serve God in one 
way or the other.( United State Dept. (2015 OP Cit ) 

vi- Ethnic divisions & polarization and religious 
differences. In some circumstances the complexity of 
women’s ethnic and political identities made a single 
voice and platform difficult to attain, as noted in the 
Kenyan case study with women’s diverging agendas 
mirroring the polarization in the society. Cooperation 
with other women - including Muslim women and 
those of all other religion- is absolutely necessary to 
bringing peace. ( Coning, (2013) 

Gender inequality that is evident in the persistent 
gender gaps mentioned above is a cost to 
development. The cost can be seen as the society, 
pays for a mothers illiteracy and lack of autonomy, 
poverty, more malnutrition, more illness especially 
venereal diseases like HIV/AIDS, and lack of good 
governance which are factors that generate conflict or 
disturb the existence of peace. Culturally, all forms of 
inequality and discrimination inflict an indirect cost 
on women men and their families leading to low 
productivity and efficiency as well which are serious 
root and immediate causes of national violence. 


THEWAY FORWARD TO WOMENS 
EFFECTIVE PARTICIPATION IN PEACE 
BUILDING IN CAMEROON 

The mainstream gender in peace building efforts is 
the way forward. It is a strategy for making the 
concern and experience of women as well as an 
integral part of design, implementation, monitoring 
and evaluation of policies and programmers in all 
political, economic and sound spheres, so that women 
and men benefit equally and inequality is not 
perpetuated. 

The goal of gender mainstreaming is to achieve 
gender equality. Gender mainstreaming is closely 
linked with human rights. It is the desire to equitably 
distribute position, resources, interest and concern 
between the women and men in countries and 
organization, both local and international. Gender 
mainstreaming strives to defend particularly the right 
of women in the face of male chauvinism and on the 
altar of male biases. Many women’s organization 
lobby at nation and international levels for handling of 
gender issues and particularly for the inclusion of 
women as active peace builders in conflict and post 
conflict areas. Gender mainstreaming enable policy 
makers to ascertain the nature of gender relations in 
conflict and to acknowledge the fact that men are also 
victims of aggression and in some cases women are 
also the perpetrators of aggression in conflict.(Global 
conscience initiative ,2011) 

Mainstreaming gender is generally to create 
awareness that a particular gender, be it male or 
female should not be disfavored or alienated by the 
policies of both the private or government sector and 
international organization. It is an attempt to 
institutionalize gender sensitivity from the ground up. 
In gender mainstreaming focus is on issues such as 
power and resources allocation between men/women 
,girls and boys, religious/cultural roles of women and 
men, women’s participation in public and private 
institution boys and girls access to education, and 
differences in the ways women and men access 
economic opportunities (WIKI-GENDER, 2013) 

Specific reference in gender mainstreaming if often 
made to the gender balance of any group in a country 
and how power appears to be allocated within them. 
Emphasis is placed on the importance of nurturing, 
supporting and consulting local gender expertise in 
the form of women’s organization, such as well- 


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women new conferences, roundtable and meetings. To 
reinforce gender mainstreaming it is prescribed that 
that there should be training for staff on gender 
issues.(World bank ,2015) Also, awareness in 
programmed set up is essential to ensure international 
and local staffs are sensitive to the gender-specific 
issues in conflict and post-conflict reconstruction- 
from access to health, food, water and other resources 
to economic opportunities and female leadership at 
the policy/decision-making level. Policy should 
ensure training in skilled jobs for both men and 
women and programmers should encourage sexual 
violence counseling for men. A gender perspective in 
development policy whether during conflict or during 
peace building should embark upon: 

1. Promoting human rights 

2. Challenge women’s oppression 

3. Bring gender equality in Post Conflict 
reconstruction in every income generating 
activity, skills / capacity building, conflict 
Resolution and peace building initiative. 

Because women have been traditionally assigned 
more to reproductive role that do not yield enough 
income that empowers them financially, while men 
have been engaged in productive roles that enable 
them to generate income which empowers the them in 
the society. This has given them an edge at the 
detriment of the women who are now disadvantaged. 
So it would be necessary that the role of gender in 
conflict and peace building be applied to make use the 
potentials of both men and women. 

To achieve gender equality, women’s rights and 
women’s empowerment for the preservation of peace 
in Cameroon, there are three core areas: freedom from 
violence for women and girls; access to resources; 
participation in leadership and decision making. What 
women and girls want/need and how men and boys 
can help to contribute to gender equality and women’s 
empowerment, should be clearly stated. (Okoro 2009) 

1- Greater sensitization of parents against traditional 
customs in all the Regions of Cameroon, especially 
the Northern Region that predisposes the girls for 
marriage with its constraints, such as household 
chores and child bearing 

2- Violence against women and girls must stop. 
Violence against women and girls is a manifestation 
of gender-based discrimination that seriously inhibits 


their abilities to enjoy rights and freedoms on an equal 
basis with men and boys. This violence, which causes 
great physical and psychological harm to women and 
girls, is a violation of their human rights, constrains 
their ability to fulfdl their true potential and carries 
great economic costs for them and for society. 

3- Women and girls must have equal access to 
resources and opportunities to reach their full 
potential. This must include efforts to promote decent 
work, reduce women’s time burdens, and provide 
access to and control over land and productive assets, 
as well as to energy and water and sanitation and 
access to health, including sexual and reproductive 
health, and to skills and education at the primary, 
secondary and tertiary level. This protects them from 
the rice of violence and gives then the financial and 
other support to take part in decision making. 

4- Women should influence decision making capacity 
to influence decision-making is intimately linked with 
their capabilities. Having a voice and participating in 
the processes and decisions that determine their lives 
is essential to women’s and girls’ freedoms. 
Therefore, the third area we propose should 
encompass voice, leadership and participation. It 
should go beyond women’s participation in national 
parliaments to also include participation in public 
institutions at local and regional levels. Promoting 
equal decision-making in households and women’s 
leadership in the private sector are equally 
important.(Nwoye, 2009) 

5- Women should be provided access to justice for 
women with security and justice sector reforms to 
preventing violence against women. 

6- There should be employment policies that prevent 
discrimination against women and enable men to take 
more responsibility for unpaid domestic and care 
work. Micro economic policies that promote inclusive 
and equitable growth. Infact gender should be 
mainstreamed, as a strategy to ensure gender 
perspectives are integrated in the design, 
implementation, and monitoring and evaluation of all 
policies and programmes (World Bank.,2001a) 

7- For this transformative vision to become a reality, 
all efforts must be supported by policies that have 
proven most effective to achieve these outcomes, such 
as those outlined in the international human rights 


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framework and in policy co mm itments such as the 
Beijing Platform for Action. 

8-The national international community must also 
continue to facilitate the involvement of local women 
in peace negotiations. The community should also 
help to promote more gender awareness, and to 
review the content of laws that perpetuate 
discrimination against women, constitutional reforms, 
judicial reforms, election participation, as well as 
access to and control over economic resources, 
education, and training. This is because despite the 
ground breaking contributions made by women’s 
groups, gender equity mechanisms created during 
peace negotiations still remain weak. (UNIFEM., 
2004) 

Peace building activities need to support women’s 
group and local initiatives building in their own 
capacities, by seeing women as untapped resources 
and dynamic elements of post-conflict societies in 
Burundi, Africa, and beyond. 

Therefore, there is a need to have a discussion with 
women’s groups and movements that would convey 
more details on how conflict or waging conflict 
affects people on the ground. There is also a need to 
provide information about the concerns that women 
have, thus empowering women as major and serious 
actors who should be included in conflict resolution 
and peace building. Bop (2002). 

9 Finally, there is also a need for specialized training 
for women in peace building. All across West Africa, 
it is widely acknowledged that women’s participation 
in formal peace and security structures and processes 
is either nil or minimal. To cite but a few examples: at 
the level of the ECOWAS Peace and Security 
Architecture, the ECOWARN system is mainly male 
dominated; and at present, all the military and civilian 
analysts at the Observation and Monitoring Centre, 
which serves as the repository for information on 
early warning in ECOWAS, are men. Training 
contents must also be reviewed and tailored to 
address women’s concerns. The development and 
delivery of specialized training for women should 
also entailed the translation into local (or first) 
languages of the beneficiaries to helped improve 
accessibility Thompson & Eade ,2002). 

CONCLUSION 

Peace building efforts requires the relationship and 
perspectives of men and women be analysed and 
addressed within the context of the society in which 


they find themselves. The aspect of context 
household, organisational development, development 
projects and global parameters) is very crucial. This is 
because understanding the relationships between 
women and men and their access to resources, their 
roles and activities, and the constraints they face in 
their different societies is a prerequisite for tackling 
peace building issues; a precondition for economic 
growth and poverty reduction, good governance for 
sustainable peace. This paper argues that paying 
special attention to the different experiences of 
women and men is critical in designing successful 
conflict management and peace building 
programmes. It examines the role women play and 
the obstacles they continue to face in post-conflict 
resolution and peace building. Conflicts often force 
women to organize themselves to safeguard basic 
necessities and to carry out activities related to, for 
example, education and healthcare. These activities 
have a role to play in ensuring lasting peace and 
governments must ensure women are included in key 
peace negotiations at all levels. 

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