The Commonwealth has held a training session for more than 30 Cameroonians designed to highlight the role women can play in building peace, understanding conflict and countering violent extremism.
Participants from Cameroon’s civil society attended the four-day workshop in Douala. They are involved in supporting women who are on the frontline of fighting extremism and building paths to peace.
Commonwealth deputy head of countering violent extremism (CVE), Anna Sherburn, described women as “powerful actors” in the Commonwealth’s efforts to build resilience to violent extremism.
She said: “We learn so much by hearing their advice and looking to address the issues they see as lying at the root of violent extremism in our communities. It is so powerful when we create opportunities for women to draw strength and wisdom from the practices of other women.
"The Cameroon workshop attendees have learnt so much from our trainers, including Hamsatu Allamin, who works to prevent violent extremism in Nigeria. They call her mamma, they call her sister. In the Commonwealth, we learn from each other and it makes us all stronger."
During the workshop, participants built a better understanding of how women could be involved with or affected by violent extremism. They learned about ways to overcome the vulnerabilities of men and women to extremism and to help the returnees from conflict reintegrate into their communities.
The Commonwealth delivered the workshop in collaboration with the Allamin Foundation for Peace and Development and the International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN).
Participant, Caryn Dasah, said: "This training was so impactful and has increased my drive to seek ways to prevent violent extremism, which is a major issue that affects our community. Special thanks to the Commonwealth Secretariat for this laudible effort that will produce results as the participants go out and incorporate these concepts into our work."
The workshop covered a number of key topics including sharing best and traditional practices, and overcoming barriers to building peace.
The workshop forms part of a strong commitment of the Commonwealth and ICAN, which works together under the auspices of the Commonwealth Cadre of CVE Experts that was mandated by the Commonwealth Heads of Government in 2018 to counter violent extremism.
Among its other efforts, the Commonwealth has been working with the government and the civil society of Cameroon to identify strategies for increasing youth participation and to manage the returnees from conflict, in ways that accord the Commonwealth values.