Western Chiefs Sexual Violence Initiative – Local Leadership Training
Following activities on the project “Building Local Leaders’ Capacity in Preventing Sexual Violence” that begun in January 2015 within 4 divisions in the West region and concerned 14 traditional chiefdoms, the Western Chiefs’ Sexual Violence Initiative, the ‘Western Chiefs Sexual Violence Initiative’ is now engaged in following-up effective strategies in collaboration with local government authorities towards defending the human rights of women in their communities. Remarkably, on the 27th of March 2015, 14 paramount rulers of the concerned chiefdoms signed an advocacy accord with their SDOs and the CEO of MAHSRA under the watchful eyes of the governor of the West region and the British High Commissioner. The accord was instituted to ensure that there were going to amend their local customs that cause prejudice to the value and status of their women and as well to make influential steps towards the sensitization and mobilization of their subjects in the fight to eliminate sexual violence within their localities.
On the 19th, 20th and 21st of November 2015, these honorable traditional authorities and defenders of customary values that are at times contradictory and prejudicial to the full rights and freedoms of their traditional women, have accepted to receive national level engagements and policy orientated trainings in order to better orientate and counsel their sub-chiefs. Event held at Hilton hotel, Yaoundé.
During the official opening ceremony on the 20th of November which was graced by the presence of the representatives of the Minister of Women Empowerment and the Family, the Minister of Territorial Administration and Decentralization, the Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission and the British High Commissioner to Cameroon, the efforts and position of the chiefs was highly appraised by all present authorities.
Through the CEO of MAHSRA’s Speech, Dr. Kelly NGYAH laid emphasis on the existence of international instruments for ending gender-based violence such as: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR); the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW); the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women and the Declaration on the Right to Development to which the Cameroonian government has ratified, thereby, implying that MAHSRA’s efforts in combating sexual violence against women is in a measure simply enforcing the will of the government. He further noted the fact that besides being a duly registered entity in Cameroon, MAHSRA’s consultative status to the United Nations Economic and Social Council is driven within a major goal to foster sustainable development thus, granting the organization a duty to address and collaborate with government efforts towards achieving the post-2015 development agenda in every minor or major way possible. He further emphasizes that, MAHSRA is full of young, talented, energetic and very zealous members and personnel ready to bring about positive development but yet lack the required support and assistance to fully implement its objectives.
After the opening ceremony which was followed by family photo shots, the second phase of day-one began with training sessions through which a series of presentations were made including: the socio-anthropological causes and consequences of sexual violence on women, the legal implications and Cameroon law’s disposition that fight customary violence practices on women and the roles of community leaders in addressing the issues concern. The later part of the evening was graced by a reception of the chiefs at the British High Commissioner’s Residence in Bastos – Yaoundé.
Day two of the training programme was characterized by interactive working sessions between the traditional rulers and trainers. They exchanged several ideas and made propositions on how best they think can be a way forward, including, the need for the government to make certain amendments on national decrees and laws that govern traditional societies in Cameroon.
At the end of the training session, the chiefs were each offered participation certificates signed by the British High Commissioner to Cameroon and the CEO of Modern Advocacy Humanitarian Social and Rehabilitation Association.