ICAN facilitated a training on gender and violent extremism organized by the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Unit, from 3-5 March in Yaoundé, Cameroon. The training served as a follow-up to the 2019 workshop delivered by ICAN. Participants traveled from all regions of Cameroon to participate in the workshop. As at the last training, they were comprised of mainly women civil society actors who have been working in various ways to address violence and build peace in their communities both in the North West and South West regions affected by the Anglophone crisis, and in Cameroon’s far North which suffers from Boko Haram insurgency. Also joining in the training were representatives from several relevant ministries of Cameroonian government.
ICAN’s Senior Program Officer Rosalie Fransen, who leads the Gender and Extremisms program, and Better Peace Initiative Program Director Helena Gronberg delivered the training in Yaoundé. Women’s Alliance for Security Leadership (WASL) Program Director Melinda Holmes supported virtually. As at the 2019 workshop, WASL member Hamsatu Allamin, founder of Allamin Foundation for Peace and Development joined in-person to share her expertise transforming violent extremism in neighboring Nigeria. WASL member Halima Mohamed, Executive Director of the Coast Education Center in Kenya also called in to share her experiences advocating for a gender-responsive national action plan for preventing violent extremism (PVE). Cameroonian WASL members Clotilda Andiensa Waah, Caryn Dasah, Nicoline Nwenushi Tumasang Wazeh, and Esther Omam joined as participants in the workshop.
Following a recap of key concepts and lessons from the 2019 training, participants discussed the needs and challenges to collaboration between civil society and government on countering violent extremism and gender. Using one of ICAN’s Case Studies on Gender and Identity in Extremisms as an example, participants practiced applying a gender and identity analysis to violent extremism in Cameroon. In a role play exercise, they modeled building understanding and gathering support for work on gender and violent extremism with stakeholders in their communities. The training also touched on best practices related to work with the security sector and community policing, developing gender-responsive PVE national action plans, and advocating for civil society involvement in national and international CVE policy processes. On the last day of the workshop, participants brainstormed ideas for a resource that they can use to inform and strengthen community-level work on gender and violent extremism. Over the course of the next few months, ICAN will be working to develop this resource in partnership with the Commonwealth Secretariat.