By Doh Bertrand Nua
Cameroonian peace advocate, Esther Omam, has been shortlisted by the United States Institute of Peace, USIP, among the finalists for the 2021 Women Peace Builders Award worldwide.
The Executive Director of Reach Out Cameroon, a local not-for-profit organisation, was named September 21,by the international, independent, nonpartisan institute, founded by US Congress in 1984, to prevent and end violent conflict abroad and uphold the US’ fundamental commitment to peace.
Omam who has been at the fore of peace advocacy, building the culture of respect of people’s rights as well as humanitarian actionsfor two decades now, was shortlisted for her bravery, leadership and commitment to build peace efforts in her community and Cameroon as a whole.
The multiple peace award winner will contest the prestigious global award, given each year to a woman peace builder who has made a major contribution to peace in her country of origin,with eight other laureates.
The winner of the award is expected to be announced at a ceremony October 20, 2021, at USIP’s iconic campus on the National Mall in Washington D.C., a release from the organidation stated. It added that the USIP received nominations from over 30 countries.
The laureates were selected after careful review and consideration, from a council of distinguished experts and leaders. Aside Esther Omam, others shortlisted for the award include: Tabassum Adnan from Pakistan, Josephine Ekiru from Kenya, TeresitaGaviria from Colombia, Waldistrudis Hurtado from Colombia, Tatiana Mukanire from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nyachangkouth Tai from South Sudan, Jayne W. Waithitu from Kenya, and Rani Yan Yan from Bangladesh.
“Throughout the world, women play leading roles in preventing conflict, reducing violence and ending wars. This is our chance to celebrate and elevate women who make the difference,”Lise Grande, USIP’s president and CEO, said.
On her part, Megan Beyer, Co-chair of the selection council, stated: “These women face enormous odds on a daily basis, often risking their lives for peace. We stand in profound awe of their courage”.
Cueing her voice to her peers, Marcia Carlucci, co-chair of the council, disclosed that: “Each of the women we have selected as finalists embodies the bravery, leadership and commitment to community and country that this award recognises”
“Reading the stories of these women is humbling, inspiring and energising. Their efforts will inspire generations of women peacebuilders,” Nancy Lindborg, Honorary Chair of the council, said.
Fifty-three-year-old Esther Omam is a household name when it comes to peace building in Cameroon. Aside peace advocacy, she has a track record in empowering rural women, youth, fighting for justice, promotion and protection of women and children’s rights in conflict zones and humanitarian works since the year 2000.
The multi peace award winner fought hard to facilitate inter-community dialogue between communities of different backgrounds in 2011 in the Bakassi Peninsula, same strides which bagged her an award from the Canadian High Commission.
Since 2016 when the ongoing Anglophone crisis, which has morphed into an armed conflict, started, Omam,dedicated her resources and timeto peace activism aimed at seeing an end to the five-year long bloodletting in the two English-speaking regions.
She was among the organsaiting committee of Cameroon’s first-ever Women National Convention, which held in Yaounde in July to seek proposals that could help resolve the ravaging conflict.
Apart from national assignments, Omam is vision-bearer of South West North West Women Taskforce, SNWOT, and the Vice President of South West Women for Peace and Development Network, SWWOP, which she uses to preach peace to those in communities.
Fearless as she is, Omam once led a delegation of three women to the USA, where she met and discussed with leaders of the separatist groups to plea the case of innocent children blocked from getting education in the North West and South West regions. She also led another delegation to the Prime Minister, prior to the holding of the Major National Dialogue.
She coordinated the Voices of Community Women, VOCOM,a platform of Women Peace builders in Cameroon, for peaceful march to condemn killing of school children by gunmen in Kumba and other untold atrocities as well as plead on belligerent groups to give peace a chance and spare the lives of women and innocent civilians.
Omam has championed youths’ initiatives for peace and organised engagement programmes where the youthare taught peaceful cohabitation, social cohesion, positive attitudes, healthy living, leadership and community development among others. She has also been involved in building the capacities of grassroots women across the South West region.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of Africanian News.