The first Photovoices Cameroonian  cohort 1 training,  was crowned with a graduation ceremony and photo exhibition in Cameroon which took place on May 23, 2024 at the UNESCO Regional headquarters in Yaoundé. This initiative implemented by Local Youth Corner Cameroon (LOYOC) and Atlantic Council for International Cooperation Canada (ACIC) with the support of the Canadian High Commission and UNESCO. This initiative seeks to use photography as a tool for young women to reflection, recording and revealing  personal experiences and societal issues around them in order to advocate for causes and promote critical consciousness.

This ceremony was attended by over 50 guests coming from UN agencies, Government, CSOs and families of the graduating cohort. The ceremony was chaired by Mr. Paul Coustere, the Regional Director of UNESCO, H.E. Lorraine Anderson of the Canadian High Commission and the Representative of the Executive Director of LOYOC, Mme Ngu Naah Vanessia. The key note address was given by Miss Comfort Musa. In her speech she encouraged the ladies not to drop the camera and gave them sound counsel based on her personal experience as a professional photographer

In the welcome remark, the regional director of UNESCO  applauded their commitment to fostering development and social justice  through the photovoice project. In his words “They have proved that their voices are important and irreplaceable, and through their eyes we can change the way we look at social issues as seen by them and for them, and at their lives and equality. He reaffirmed the commitment of UNESCO towards supporting women and to leverage on arts and media as a tool to promote sustainable development.

This training program, which began on January 28th 2024, brought together 26 female participants from Cameroon (15) and Canada (11) to learn. Through these weekly training sessions, they were equipped to use visuals to speak up and advocate for various issues plaguing our society today as well as become agents of change

A screenshot of one of the virtual training sessions

Through the potent medium of photography, the participants were  empowered over the course of three months to share their stories as well as those of their communities. The subjects for for the training were selected with great care reflecting the interest of participants and the contexts they all find themselves in.

Experts from a range of disciplines collaborated with us during the project to interact with the participants, offering priceless advice and insights on various subjects. Some of these subjects were women and education, women and agriculture, gender equality, environmental justice, mental health awareness, social activism, and photography. “Empowering women in these areas is crucial for creating positive change in society. By equipping women with the knowledge and skills to advocate for themselves and their communities, we are fostering a more inclusive and equitable future for all.” said – Mr Achaleke Christian Leke, Executive Director of LOYOC said during the opening session of the training.

Participants were equally tasked with working individually and collaboratively to produce engaging images per subject, creating a massive photo gallery that will be shared online by ACIC. For the participants, this training was an experience that not only honed their photography skills but also deepened their understanding of social issues and the power of visual storytelling. Through this project, they were able to amplify their voices and contribute to meaningful conversations surrounding gender equality and social change. The sessions were always very interactive and mostly served as a platform for the Cameroonians and Canadians to get to know each other’s cultures and perspectives. The exchange of ideas and experiences helped foster mutual understanding and collaboration between the two groups, ultimately strengthening the bonds between them.

Timb Cherly, one of the participants, explained her delight for the training during the graduation ceremony  “Nous avons abordé des thèmes très négligés dans le monde courant ce qui m’éduque et me fait voir la société différemment.” She expressed how the training broadened her horizons and allowed her to see society in a new light, sparking a desire for continued learning and growth. Speaking on behalf of the 1st Cohort during the graduation ceremony, she also emphasized the importance of collaboration between different cultures to promote positive social change and gender equality worldwide.

The graduation ceremony concluded on a good note , with attendees feeling inspired and motivated to continue using their “photovoices” to advocate for various social causes. The success of the training programme was evident in the passion and dedication shown by the graduates as they shared their photos, their experiences, and their goals for the future.

A sneakpeak of the activities implemented under the photovoices project


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