POLICY BRIEF: DISARMAMENT, DEMOBILIZATION, AND REINTEGRATION (DDR): Harnessing Women’s Participation in DDR Procedures in the Far North region of Cameroon
Women are a key player in DDR Processes in the Far North Region
To respond to the rise of violent extremism in the region, women have mobilized themselves to form CSOs in order to collectively channel their energy. During the consultation with 27 women groups, they shared their experiences in advancing DDR within the region. The women noted that they have been a key bridge in mitigating the difficulties that public actors face with regard to effectively communicating with the former fighters in the local communities. “These young people see us as their mothers, and the fact that we have acquired some basic knowledge on how to manage young people like this has made it easy for us to talk with them and understand their needs,” said a female CSO leader. The women attest to collecting feedback and identifying those they can respond to as well as share with other actors and government to solicit their response.
Despite the numerous setbacks which women face in DDR processes,, the women stated their efforts in organizing capacity-building programs for women groups in the regions to serve as front liners in peace-building and DDR related conversations. Bridging the capacity gap remains an important tool for advancing women’s participation in DDR. One of the women shared how she became a peace activist and joined a CSO after participating in one of such women-led capacity-building training. The African Union Commission (2014), improving women’s capacity in DDR increases their ability to meaningfully contribute to the community and national-level DDR responses.
“All these young people who return from Boko Haram are going through serious trauma, they have seen terrible things and need someone to confide in,” said one of the women. It’s unfortunate that the region has limited healthcare facilities, talk less of experts to respond to the mental health challenges which these former fighters are facing. Many of them who return to the communities either directly or from the DDR centers are not fully healed in their minds. The women groups looking at these voids claim to have been key actors in providing Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) to these young people. They claimed that, though with no clinical expertise and capacity in MHPSS, their experiences as mothers had made them naturally capable of dealing with young people. Some of the women groups attested to have collaborated with and received funding from UN Agencies and other International Organisations to provide MHPSS support.
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