Esther presenting the Award to H.E Minister Abena Ondoa
The Minister of Women's Empowerment and the Family, Prof Marie-Therese Abena Ondoa has acknowledged the Executive Director of Reach Out Cameroon NGO, Esther Omam for her unending dedication and sacrifices in improving the lives of the most vulnerable populations in hard-to-reach communities across the Country as well as her efforts in mobilizing women and youths to advocate for an end to conflict. These Remarks were made in Yaounde on Monday 11th of December 2023 during an audience granted to Esther Omam on the occasion of a curtsey visit to the Minister Abena Ondoa to present the 2023 Global Pluralism Award which she was declared winner on the 25th of October and officially handed the Award on the 15th of November in Ottawa Canada.
In response to the audience granted to her, Esther thanked Minister Abena Ondoa, for giving her the privilege to present this award which she describes as "the Pride of the People, the pride of women's resilience in Peace and Nation Building" "This award is a testimony of the resilience, dedication, and sacrifices of our Board of Directors, my collaborators, women peacebuilders, partners, friends and allies and myself standing before you today to see that we build just and peaceful communities despite the many challenges" she said. Esther further added; "This Global Pluralism Award has given me hope, confidence, and commitment to keep striving to empower our people to learn to live together in the crisis and with the crisis while searching for pathways of peace and fight against violent extremism and Gender-Based Violence. We should address the root causes of issues plaguing our society while treating every man and woman with respect and dignity. I won’t relent because we are nothing without each other".
Responding to these words, H.E. Abena Ondoa congratulated Esther for all the work she has been doing nationwide and within the community despite the odds," we appreciate it"
...." when you bring smiles to the faces of others, it makes it possible for children to go back to school and for families to have something to eat. I think we appreciate what you are doing...when families are destabilized, it is extremely difficult for the country to roll on" the Minister stated. " continue the great work".
A congratulatory handshake from the Women Empowerment Minister
She used this opportunity to appreciate the support of her family for standing by her, despite the odds. Cameroon's rich cultural heritage and a diversity of ethnic groups, despite the many internal differences, have shaped her understanding and learning Esther Omam explained. This, a lot she said, helped her gain a lot of insights into the concept of leaving no one behind.
Esther Omam with the Women's Empowerment Minister, some staff of MINPROFF, and Reach Out NGO
ABOUT THE AWARD
The Global Pluralism Award recognizes pluralism in action. Presented every other year to individuals, organizations, governments, and businesses from around the world, the Award celebrates the inspiring and brave work that is helping to build more inclusive societies where diversity is valued and protected. The Award is conferred by the Global Centre for Pluralism, an independent, charitable organization founded by His Highness the Aga Khan and the Government of Canada, and is made possible in part by the generous support of TD Bank Group.
WHO IS ESTHER OMAM?
Esther Omam is the Executive Director of Reach Out NGO. She has been at the forefront of development issues, building a culture of peace and rights and conducting humanitarian assistance in the South West, North West, Littoral regions of Cameroon and beyond since 2000. Her activities in the promotion and protection of women and children’s rights in conflict zones began in the Bakassi Peninsula in 2011. Bakassi is the conflict area between Nigeria and Cameroon where kidnappings, rapes, incest, child and early forced marriages, and many other human rights abuses were common place. Due to the high risky nature of the conflict-prone area no NGO was willing to go there. Omam took the risk and helped facilitate inter-community dialogue between communities of different backgrounds, with and for women and youths of Bakassi.
Her endeavors in building a culture of peace and rights in Bakassi made her to advocate for the Bakassi women’s participation in the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Re-unification of Cameroon before the Head of State, diplomatic missions, the international and national Communities in February 2014.
She became the Peace and Human Rights Champion of Bakassi which earned her an award from the Canadian High Commission, in recognition of her valuable contribution of the protection and promotion of human rights in Cameroon.
Since 2016 she has been involved in peace activism to mediate to resolve the Anglophone conflict which has killed thousands and displaced nearly a million. She is the vision bearer of the South West North West Women Taskforce SNWOT and the Vice President of the South West Women for Peace and Development Network SWWOPDEN which she used to amplify women’s voices and draw attention to the impacts of violence and trauma on their communities.
She was one of the leading organizers of the first-ever National Women’s Convention for Peace in Cameroon, which drew over 1,200 women from across the country to demand an end to violence. From facilitating the participation of women in local and national dialogues to opening a Peace House christened “Esther’s Brave Space” that offers temporary accommodation and counseling to survivors of gender-based violence, Omam champions pluralism by strengthening communities and uniting voices to call for peace and social cohesion in Cameroon.
The Cameroonian born before this award had received more than ten other awards in the domain of peacebuilding.
Handing over of the 2023 Global Pluralism Award to Omam Esther by Princess Zahra Aga Khan on November 14Th Ottawa Canada
By Olga Emma