TEXT: Bibiana Tanda
As Covid-19 continue to influence people’s lives, civil society continuously seek for mitigating strategies and ways to adapt and forge ahead with their work, without putting their personnel and target groups at risk. The pandemic has had impact in diverse and significant ways.
WILPF Cameroon has had to adopt new strategies and make priorities to adjust to the situation. One of the impacts has been the restriction of in-person gatherings, pushing the Section to develop new ways of operating, like moving some advocacy and other activities related to peace education, campaigns, workshops, and feminist peace, to digital platforms. The Section has put effort into training and building employees’ capacity in information technology, such as the efficient use of digital communication tools and platforms.
Additionally, target groups and the focus for advocacy has shifted some to include the urgent needs of vulnerable groups, such as internally displaced persons (IDPs), who have become more exposed due to the pandemic. WILPF Cameroon has carried out workshops with government officials and IDPs, to enhance the authorities’ insight and awareness of the violation of rights during the pandemic.
Digitalization and participation
WILPF Cameroon’s activities in the past year have, through intensive online campaigns, sensitization and a vide range of dialogs, resulted in a greater participation and outreach. They have carried out online campaigns on the awareness of their Women’s Early Warning Centre (a center initially set up to receive and take action on reports on violence, threats and obstacles in relation to electoral processes, now with a broader democratic focus) and the establishment of WILPF’s legal support with regards to violation of rights.
Their work on mitigating the effects of Covid-19 has been done through outreach and unexpected partnerships, such as collaborating with local CSO’s for constant availability of updated information, and partnership with the UN Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Central Africa (UNCDHR-CA). The later cooperation lead to the creation of a committee on monitoring the impact of Covid-19 on human rights, of which WILPF Cameroon is a part. WILPF Cameroon distributed Covid-19 protective kits, and initiated educative talks with teachers, pupils, and community leaders in different communities.
WILPF Cameroon has been respecting the restrictions and promoting the safety of its workers by conducting hybrid activities while ensuring that every in-person meeting is held in accordance with the set rules. Additionally, they have put effort, work and heart into caring for the well-being and psychosocial health of staff and members, during these challenging times. Ultimately, the work of WILPF Cameroon has continued to do their part in the broader work to build a society on permanent peace and justice.