16.9.14

Five reasons why Cameroon should take the post2015 development framework important

Listed below are 5 reasons why I believe Cameroon should prioritize the inclusion of gender equality and youth SRHR in the post2015 development framework
Next week, September 22, 2014, over 193 Member States of the United Nations, members of CSOs, academia, researchers and private sectors will gather at the U.N head office, United Nations, New York for the 69th General Assembly and a special session on the follow-up to the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and recommendations on Sustainable development goals.
As world leaders head to this event, it is important that Cameroonians understand the linkage between post2015 and Cameroon’s Vision 2035 and why it is imperative Cameroon government support among others; young people’s access to sexual and reproductive health services, including comprehensive sexuality education; gender equality and investment in youth capacities and leadership.

It is important to note:
1.       Post2015 and Vision 2015 agenda are all development-oriented and human rights focused
Both post2015 and vision 2035 are development agendas that addresses key human issues particularly those that seeks to advance gender equality, poverty alleviation, social justice, freedom of choice, youth leadership, women’s economic empowerment and sustainable development.
The statistics tells us that women and young people’s make up around 60% of the country’s population. And without adequate measure to ensure that their human rights is fully protected, respected and promoted, the states will be losing out to reap their contributions to development.
Positioning and prioritising youth issues, which include SRHR into the post2015 implies advancing vision 2035 agenda and in turn achieving international human rights and enabling the youth full participation and contributions to national growth, peace and security. Therefore, it is prudent for the government to take advantage of the post2015 development framework.  For its realisation directly affects the enjoyment of everyone.
2.          Access to Sexual and Reproductive Health Information is a Vision 2035 Goal
SRHR is an intrinsic component of human right. And both are an essential element in fostering sustainable development. Millions of people, especially young people and adolescent girls are vulnerable to domestic and gender-based violence, they continue to lack adequate and reliable access to comprehensive sexuality information and education and most at time exposed to various untreated sexual and reproductive tract infections, which could have been treated and / or prevent at early stage.
Placing prevention and inclusive health care services and reliable information about people’s sexuality at core of the post2015 deliberation is imperative. It also creates a multiple effect: prioritising health, and also ensuring healthy contributions towards advancing the realisation of vision 2035.
3.        Investing in the capacities of adolescent and youth as drivers of Cameroon’s Vision2035
Two-third of the country’s population are persons between the ages 14-24 [1]. We have all been told time and again that the key drivers of change in any country are its young people. Sadly in Cameroon, many raw and inert skills has not been fully developed and exploited. Cameroon still depend largely on foreign expertise for development whereas it has reservoirs of untapped knowledge, if exploited would meaningfully contribute to the development of this country. 
Cameroon can’t think of becoming an emerging economy without significant contributions of those who constitute over half of its population. Investing in youth is a wise thing to do as a nation. It has a disproportionate impact to the growth and development of that society.

4.        Gender equality and women’s rights matters for development
Gender equality must matter at all levels and stages of the post2015 deliberations. There is no doubt however that a society with greater gender equality achieves better health and development for its people.
Improving gender equality means ensuring quality education for all, especially girls, eliminating systemic forms of violence against women and girls, promoting women’s economic empowerment, access to comprehensive sexuality education, youth participation, leadership and contributions to environmental sustainability.
Becoming an emerging nation come 2035 is laying strong gender equality foundations now! And these, Cameroon must support and prioritize in the post2015 development framework. 

5.            Transparency, Accountability and Good Governance
The Cameroon’s Vision 2035 seeks for an emerging, democratic and united country in diversity by 2035. And one thing is for sure - Democracy comes with government accountability and transparency. The post2015 development framework clearly articulates the need for states’ accountability to the people. As a state, the people must be involved and informed of everything because state’s issues are definitely the people’s concern and it matters.

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It might interest you to note that both frameworks (post2015 & Vision2035)  will be expiring almost within the same period. This therefore provides Cameroon a better ground to create impacts, since both programs will be run simultaneously, it’s easier to identify lapses and re-ameliorate for positive change.

8.9.14

Africa We Want | Every Voice Counts

"I wish all the great suggestions and ideas from young people in this meeting could just be given more serious thought. Nonetheless, I am very optimistic! Like I have always been and will alway be!" ~says Makeoh to colleagues during one of Women for a Change Cameroon informal debrief meeting

August 18, 2014, she writes, "I travelled to #Nairobi to attend a 3 day High Level Youth Policy Dialogue on SDGs (HLYPD), from August 19 -21, 2014

The HLYPD was organized by the Organisation of African Youth (OAYouth), under the theme: “Prioritizing Investment in Youth Development”.

This was my first time travelling to #Kenya, first time participating in a regional forum with over 200 vibrant youth leaders, many of who were heads of institutions & organisations, Members of Parliament. In addition to the 200 participants were invited / special guests from government, particularly #Kenya & #SouthAfrica, Experts from United Nations agencies, including some INGOs & NGOs.

A day or two before my trip to Nairobi, I was so anxious about everything. First about the outcome document. Whether or not, it will gain strong language & input, especially around adolescents #SRHR & girls eduction.

Being so new in this field, and knowing what it looks like been in the same space with government authorities, how often young peoples intention is misunderstood for being malicious, I couldn't help but to imagine how engaged & available will most government delegations be at the event?

And also what kind of speakers shall be present at the forum? and whether or not would the event be very participatory or and not a sort of talk sermon session? Of all my worries, the greatest was - Whether I will be up to the tasks? Sincerely speaking, at some point I felt a little intimidated.

However, while at the conference, the feeling was different. On the first day, we had quite an elaborate conversation on youth inclusion in the post 2015 agenda, the Africa 2063 agenda. And as the days goes bye, I begun gaining more confidence and getting conformable and even more enthusiastic.

And the one thing I came to realised was that I do not need to know everything to feel confident in expressing my views and idea so long as the post2015 discussion is concern. And most importantly my experience & voice matters and should not be silent! And this was the moment to input what I think would create a better society for all, especially for girls and women.

Just like me, I came across a great number of youth who expressed huge enthusiasm and desire to ensuring that our recommendations take top priorities during the negotiations. Some of which includes; Youth Employment, Entrepreneurship, Quality Education, Budgeting and financing, Environment & Security, Youth and Inequality & Investment in Health issues and adopting comprehensive sexuality policies and programs to give young people rightful information about their lives.

Another interesting moment during the meeting was the fact that we had speakers from government institutions who believed so strongly in the power of the youth, and why young people’s issues must be every nation's top priority, as well as the post2015 agenda. Many of these remarks I found to be empowering and motivating.

For example, Ambassador Martin’s: “The youths are the real victims of violence besides being the major perpetrators of crime..we can only therefore handle peace and security when the youths are involved”.

“If the African youths only engage in politics, we shall be fighting over a very small piece of biscuit..”

“The youth should be engaged in budgeting and planning to enable them to prudently audit the implementation process” - S. Adhiambo, Action Aid International

In all, the one thing which stood so strongly was how much we were able to collectively contribute and inputs to the YDialogue Outcome document, which I hope serves a fruitful purpose and in parts capture what we [young people] want for Post 2015 Africa

May I also use this opportunity to extend gratitude to IPPF for the sponsorship.

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About Nancy Makeoh: At WFAC, members / staff multitask. Currently Makeoh is WFAC's community outreach manager. As community organizer, she is in-charge of mobilising youth for our community programs or directing / executing community projects with / for young people. Makeoh also has special interest in advancing girls education and #SRHR. She has a wide and extensive knowledge in Christian religion and often puts a feminist face on biblical scriptures. 


Follow WFAC on twitter | Instagram: @WfacCmr
Join on Facebook at www.facebook.com/WFACCameroon

1.7.14

Week II: Notes from my YALI SCRAP Book

“Given all the natural resources that we have in Africa, and all the other resources that we have been blessed with, does any one know why Africa remains the way it is now? I cant count the number of times I have heard this particular question been asked. I wish Prof. Babatunde’s class with us all at #UDWFL #YALI2014 on “Challenges Facing Africa” was the last time, I will be asked such a question. Sadly it won't. 


Last week was quite hectic and intense. We had closed to 11 academic tutors and mentors, who took us through cross-cutting interdisciplinary subjects - like “Democratic Representation and Accountability in the US; Rule of Law and Judicial Independence; Challenges facing Africa. We also visited a couple of NGOs, CBOs like Easter Seal, Delaware Center for Comptemporary Arts (DCCA) as well as some historic centres like the 9/11 Memorial, Stature of Liberty, Twin Tower…etc"

Learning about American history in-depth for the first time was very much an eye opening for me. Through this program, I was able to get deeper understanding on how the US system is structure,  particularly about their federal system and most interesting how though there is one federal constitution, each of the 50 states has its own constitution, local government structure (county but not sovereign). 

The American polity is quite complex and vast and yet it has managed to minimise faction. 

SO - WHAT is the issue with Africa? if I may ask -

What would it mean for most African government to provide participatory leadership? 

How can African youth partner with their government to improve services and better their community and country? Prof. Babatunde asked.

During one of our sessions, we had a conversation on Mandela, being one of the exemplary on Africa Leadership “he gave the type of leadership that generates servant leadership. As #African we can contribute to the rest of the world” said Prof. Setiloane 

Further, Prof Setiloene provokes each one of us to think deeper to “Why was NelsonMandela the way he was? 

My take home however from last week kept me reflecting on Nelson Mandela’s leadership approach and how his uniqueness and values could be the one Africa model we can uphold in terms of advancing effective (citizen) Leadership in Africa.


 Just as Prof said; YES- “we know what the current state of Africa is but can we look at the future and its transition?” 

NOTE: #UDWFL or #UDWFYAL is the General hashtag for Washington Fellows on Placement at University of Delaware

27.6.14

STATEMENT FROM YOUTH ACTIVISTS TO CAMEROON OFFICIALS ON POST2015

"Cameroon: Prioritize Youth Issues at the Heart of post2015‬ Development GoalsBuea‬Cameroon‬"
On June 10, 2014, twenty-two (22) youth leaders and activists representing 10 youth-led organisations across the country joined the association, @Women for a Change Cameroon (WFAC) for an Experts Strategic Meeting that seeks to develop ideas, brainstorm and build strategies on how to engage and gain government’s support in promoting strong language around youth development issues, sexual and reproductive health information, education, and services for young people and adolescents with respect for their human rights
Participants of the meeting have all been actively engaged in the Post-2015 process for over a period of 14 months.
“As grassroots youth and women’s right activists, we have a chance now to add our voice to the global call on the future we want”, says Zoneziwoh Mbondgulo, Executive Director, “we need to engage with our government officials and ensure they commit in prioritizing youth issues at the heart of the development goal, especially aspects that deal with the full realization of their sexual and reproductive health rights, dignity and integrity”.
The post2015 process entails a series of discussions and consultations to draft the next development agenda that will succeed the Millennium Development Goals established in the year 2000. This WFAC strongly believes, Zoneziwoh says; “is closely related to the attainment of Cameroon’s Vision2035 as realization of this vision greatly depends on the investment made now on youth with commitment in prioritizing youth issues in the post2015 development framework”.
We therefore urge the state of Cameroon not to make the mistake of leaving youth and women's health issues behind. Our rights matters and must not be ignore in the post2015 deliberations!

25.6.14

THE FIGHT FOR SELF-CONSTRUCTED IDENTITIES: SHOCKING SIMILARITIES BETWEEN THE LGBT RIGHTS MOVEMENTS AND THE DISABILITY RIGHTS MOVEMENT

So, this afternoon’s lecture was about LGBT rights. Apart from it being a very insightful discussion, the session sounded very much like a class on the disability rights movement. By this I mean that I discovered that there are shocking similarities between the LGBT rights movement and the disability rights movement.
What are these similarities?
Well, to start with the two movements started as a breakaway from medical identities. Medical professionals labeled those with different sexual orientations to everybody else as homosexuals. Similarly, medical professional gave various medical labels to people with impairments. Both groups found themselves excluded from society because of these identities.
In response to this, both groups have stood up and started movements whose main purpose is to be included as full members of society – the LGBT rights movements and the disability rights movement. Both movements are self-representation bodies, that is, they are comprised of and driven by the very people whose interests are being promoted. Also, both movements are contesting strongly held social norms, promoting the accepting of difference and fighting for citizenship rights. It’s a fight for self-constructed identities and the legal recognition of these identities.
For some strange reasons, the two struggles have somewhat played out the same way. Both movements began as a breakaway from medical identities as I have already mentioned. Both movements have had clashes with police due to their identities as social deviates without a place in society.
Both movements took advantage of the opportunity that was created by the civil rights movement to have their voices heard. Both movements have used feminist arguments to promote their cause – they also sometimes disagree with feminist constructions of a human being. Both movements have been one of the central issues in major policy reforms, including gaining traction in presidential election campaigns. The issues of both movements have moved from personal/private issues to human rights issues.
From these developments, it can be seen that both movements have made a steady movement towards their main goal of building inclusive societies which accept human difference. However, both movements are carrying on with their fights as there has not yet been the universal acceptance of their identities, even within the movements themselves – apparently, both movements do not agree on what to call themselves.

click here to read more about Washington Fellowship 
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#WashingtonFellows – General hashtag for the Washington Fellowship program
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The Op-Ed is a cross posting from 
Edmore Tendai Masendeke, Zimbabwean Disability Activist and blogger, currently on placement at the University of Delaware, taking Civic Leadership.