By Marriane Tabi Enow
The United Nations Regional Adviser for Peace and Security in Central Africa, Soro Karna, has observed that social beliefs, poverty, marginalisation and impunity, which place women at a disadvantage position, are the root causes of conflicts in Africa.
He made the remark on October in Yaounde during the 5th Café Genre workshop organised by the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, UN Women-Cameroon, under the theme: “The participation of women in conflict prevention and crisis management: Lessons learnt from Mali, Congo, Nigeria, and Cameroon.”
Soro Karna told participants at the workshop that; “Conflicts breed where there is poor governance, human rights abuses and grievances over the unequal distribution of resources, wealth and power. When there is conflict women are mostly affected because they are most times used as agents for settling scores.”
Citing Nigeria’s Boko Haram and their use of the Chiboke girls, the cases of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, DRC, and the Central African Republic, CAR, Karna called on the Cameroon Government to address underlying root causes of conflicts so as to preserve the peace the country is enjoying.
“Cameroon is surrounded by countries undergoing conflicts and uprisings. This means that Cameroonians must do everything to prevent conflict because once started, it will be difficult to stop,” he asserted.
The UN official stressed that tackling the root causes of conflict also depends on women.
“The home training they give to their children is crucial to ensuring sustainable development and peace,” he remarked.
“Tensions simmer where people are excluded, marginalised and denied meaningful participation in the political and social life of their countries,” he said.
“Unrest flourishes where people are poor, jobless and without hope,” Karna stated further.
In a supporting statement, the UN Women Representative in Cameroon, Rachelle Mian Djagone, said the Security Council, through its resolution 1325, noted the benefit of having women in conflict management and mediation process.
“The continued low numbers of women in formal institutions of conflict prevention and resolution, particularly in preventive diplomacy and mediation efforts are some of the challenges which limit the implementation of resolution 1325,” she said.
The UN Women boss highlighted the increasing role Cameroon was playing in resolving conflicts on the African continent and the growing cooperation between Cameroon and its neighbouring countries in crisis management. She commended the Cameroon Government’s efforts in involving women in decision making positions.
The President of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, WILPF Cameroon, Sylvie Jacqueline Ndongmo, observed that the power of the women to put an end to war cannot be overemphasised.
Meanwhile, FatimataTouré, one of the 2014 International Wwomen of Courage Awardee, shared her work in advocating for women’s rights and helping victims of gender-based violence in Mali. Touré’s work was particularly visible during the 2012 extremist occupation of Northern Mali, where she helped victims relocate and find medical assistance after a hospital in Gao was attacked.
Speaking on behalf of the women in Extreme North, the MP for the Logone and Chari Division, Hon. Mariam Goni, said the women of the Extreme North are suffering due to the influx of refugees into the region because of Boko Haram and conflicts in neighbouring countries.
“The socio economic situation of the women in this region is bad. Most of their activities which hitherto generated income have been stopped. Families don’t even allow their children, especially the girl child, to go to school due to the fear of Boko Haram,” she observed.