A conversation with Ndi Nancy Saiboh  

The #defyhatenow Cameroon initiative caught up with Ms. Ndi Nancy Saiboh about her work, here is our conversation;

What you do?

I am the founder and CEO of Actions for Development and Empowerment (ADE), a non-profit, grass-roots, youth-driven organization. The goal of ADE is to give young people the tools they need to take action on issues that affect their lives and play an active role in the development process, which will lead to positive change in their communities and in Africa as a whole. 

Read more about the work of my organisation here

I am also the Country Coordinator for Follow the Money—Cameroon, an organization that works to improve and increase accountability in the way the government buys things and how public money is used for community and social development. Find here

As a social justice advocate with over nine years of experience in community outreach and organising; I am particularly interested in public accountability and the use of law to improve the socio-economic wellbeing of citizens, with a priority for youths, women and vulnerable communities. I worked on the  Covid-19 Transparency and Accountability Project, (CTAP 1 & 2) which is a multi stakeholder partnership focused on boosting advocacy for a stronger health system and leading on healthcare accountability in Africa.  The project enabled my team to document the state of 19 primary health care centres in 6 grassroots communities in 5 regions of Cameroon and evaluated the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic as well as the distribution of vaccines across the national territory. For over four years now, my team and I have impacted over 1,974 students through the  SDG School Tour activity which seeks to empower students on the importance to act for SDGs and to encourage them  to engage  in their various communities to make the Sustainable Development Goals, SDG  2030 Agenda a success.  

I advocate for women and girls rights advocate. Each year, I ran the “EmpowerHer” Campaign aimed at sensitising adolescent girls about proper Menstrual Hygiene as well as  addressing menstrual taboos and myths surrounding menstruation.

Does your role or job as a community leader permit you to foster women’s inclusion in peace building processes in the community, at work or even online ?

I have a very busy schedule, but I leverage social media to foster women’s inclusion in peace building processes in the community. While digital tools have created an unprecedented opportunity to democratise peace efforts, making them more transparent and inclusive, some issues remain to be addressed. We see that women are more likely to participate in online discussions because they can do so anonymously and flexibly, balancing their care burdens. We must continue to leverage the huge potential of digital tools for constituency-building while ensuring that existing discrepancies in accessing digital tools do not further inequalities.

From your experience what do you think can be done to increase women’s representation in peace building?

I think some of the measures that can be taken to increase women’s representation in peace building include ; 

Empowering more women leaders to participate in peace processes. They should be trained as mediators to be involved in peace missions, conflict resolution, and peace support operations.

Bringing together women civil society actors and political representatives in peace processes. When all these actors come together they engage closely to ensure that women’s voices are heard, they will represent their interests and views at all levels.

In addition, they should strive for quotas and laws that promote gender equality in the political sphere as women’s involvement in decision-making roles in the country will go a long way to increase their participation in peacebuilding. More so, gender experts and expertise should be included in all levels and aspects of peace operations. 

What do you think are the consequences of marginalising or sidelining gender issues in conflict resolution processes?

Women are mostly the main victims of conflict. They are often the first to detect the signs of potential conflict, but because they have no direct access to the decision-making positions, they have few opportunities to inform on the necessity of preventive actions.

Sidelining gender issues in conflict resolution processes may lead to slowed or no conflict resolution. Women play a particular role in the prevention of conflicts, as they are the main bearers of tradition and carry a special responsibility as educators of the young generation. As educators, women should be aware of the positive and negative influence they may have on their children’s behaviour toward others in the transmission of values and attitudes.

With the senatorial coming up, what do you think about more women taking up important positions at the Senate this time around?

I think it is a good idea. Looking at the number of senators in Cameroon out of 100 only 19 are women, not to talk of the ministers as there are only 5 female ministers out of 32. The worst is there is no female governor out of the ten governors in the ten regions of the country. There is a need for more women to take charge and occupy decision making roles in the country. By doing so they can protect their rights and act on issues affecting them. 

Have you ever heard of #defyhatenow? If yes, what do you think of their work and what do you think the team can do to make their work known and have more impact in #Cameroon? 

Yes, I know about #defyhatenow. It is a good initiative given that the world is becoming far more digitised and almost everyone is on the web or social media. Hence there is a need for control and to fight against fake news, mis, mal, and disinformation on the internet since it is a free space where everyone can publish and do what they deem fit.

I think the #defyhatenow initiative is doing a good job of propagating and fighting against such ills on the web.

Do you have any advice for young girls aspiring to impact their communities?

The advice I will give to young girls is that everyone has a niche. They should discover their niche and nurse it. You should excel in what you know how to do best once you discover these different sectors grow in them, engage, and network then better opportunities will come. To be able to impact your community you need to live an exemplary life, people should be amazed by what you do not by your words. 

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