response: November/December 2020 Issue

Preventing Gender-based Violence

United Methodist Women-sponsored training 
helps women in Cameroon advocate for gender justice.

Preventing Gender-based Violence
Buckets and sanitary kits are distributed to internally displaced women in Kake II, Cameroon, at a workshop on ending gender-based violence.

The United Methodist Women Association Cameroon in collaboration with United Methodist Women hosted a workshop in January 2020 under the theme “Preventing Gender-based Violence and Promoting Mainstreaming Through Engagement of State and Nonstate Actors to Take Action Toward Recovery and Justice for Victims.” The training was held in Meme Division, Southwest Region of Cameroon.

Participants included indigenous, minority and economically disadvantaged women and women living with HIV/AIDS as well as survivors of gender-based violence and runaway child brides seeking shelter and protection.

Workshop leader Pastor Manjui Esther began with defining the different types of gender-based violence and offered ways women could try to protect themselves. She urged women to work to end poverty and drug addiction, which she called some of the major contributors to gender-based violence. Poverty makes the girl child especially vulnerable, she said. She also called on women of faith to pray.

The second session, with trainer Binwi Patience Muyo, focused on skills training and making antiseptic cleaner for use to help improve participants’ safety and hygiene and to sell for income generation.

Opened eyes

Halimah Ojoh participated in the training. She shared that her 13-year-old daughter was the fourth wife of a 46-year-old man. With child marriage part of the culture in which she grew up, she’d never considered it abnormal and was a child bride herself. The workshop helped her realize that early marriage is a form of gender-based violence, and she testified to the abuse girls face in these relationships.

“My eyes have suddenly opened,” she said, breaking into tears as she talked about her daughter’s desire to go to school.

Ojoh vowed that her other daughters would never go through such violence. Other participants applauded her as she also said she would educate her married daughter and her husband on gender-based violence and make sure her daughter received counseling.

Community effort

The United Methodist Women Association Cameroon visited the Mambanda neighborhood and met the Ekong Sisters Group, led by Catherine Eyong, who had participated in previous trainings. These young women have been educating their community on gender-based violence and strategizing rape prevention, denouncing violence and ending stigma on survivors of violence. The group has also organized group farming to raise funds and help young women meet their basic needs and be less susceptible to abusive relationships.

The women who participated were very happy about the training, and pleaded with United Methodist Women Association Cameroon to do more such training. We hope to continue opening eyes and building coalitions to empower and protect women, children and youth.

Collette Ndobe is a communicator and project coordinator for the United Methodist Women Association Cameroon.

Posted or updated: 11/10/2020 12:00:00 AM