Introducing Myself

Elvire
Posted September 23, 2015 from Cameroon

By chance? I thought so that day. I no longer believe it.

A few months back, I needed to join a network of people who are involved in leadership matters, whose lives are dedicated to noble causes and who are sharing their stories. I typed “leadership” and “development” on google and I was led to World Pulse. The home page was attractive, so I took a look. Usually when I discover something interesting on the Internet, I like to sleep over it and if the interest is still there the following days, then I go for it. This time, it did not take me more than ten minutes, I was signing up. I am really glad I did.

Having seen the advantages that being online provided to people around me in terms of communication, social networks, online shopping, etc, I felt that we were missing something in our communication strategy, even as we have been on radio and TV programmes on several occasions. Particularly, we needed to learn about what is happening in other places, how they are coping with challenges, etc. Applying to take the digital empowerment training was therefore an obvious step.

Not only do I want to continue the training, but I have started sharing about it with friends. I believe that we will make more progress on the field if we are exposed to similar knowledge and grow together in our skills. I look forward to increasing my ITC skills. By taking this training, I hope to learn from other contexts and to be an encouragement to the women in my area, i.e. help remove/reduce their fear so they will join the online community and widen their circle. So, two things I am interested in include showing the value of digital services by using the posts on World Pulse and the enrichment that diversity brings to our lives (the unknown should not be frightening, there are things happening in other parts of the world that we can very much learn from).

One challenge that stands out at this point is the issue of verbal abuse vs physical violence. “All of Africa in one” is the formula used by visitors to describe Cameroon. There is actually everything you find in Africa here: cultures, landscapes, religions, vegetations, animals, dances, climates, food, customs, languages, etc; if you visit any area of Cameroon, you can easily recognize something you will find somewhere else in Africa, including the savannah+sahara of West Africa in the greater north of Cameroon, the elephants and giraffes of Kenya in the North and South, the Bamileke of Cameroon are said to be cousins of the Ibo in Nigeria, the Kikuyu of Kenya, etc. This is true also for learning habits and conflict issues.

Many men have repeatedly complained that women’s tongue is a “deadly disease”, that women's use of their tongue to handle disagreements and conflicts is awful. Interestingly, those men recognize the different ways they have exercised power/authority abuse, using physical violence, money control and other methods to maltreat women, but they are increasingly presenting these as self-defense actions, stating that women’s verbal abuse (verbosity, insults, threats, etc) is more damaging. We have handled different cases of domestic and community injustice and discrimination, but this has been a tough one, especially because very few accept to give comprehensive accounts of a conflict situation. We are somehow limited in the impact we can have.

I will very much appreciate ideas and suggestions on how to resolve this. Did you face/are you facing anything similar? How are you managing?

Comments 12

Log in or register to post comments
CaylaBlack
Sep 27, 2015
Sep 27, 2015

I am so glad that you joined the World Pulse community and shared your story! Your perspective on the enrichment of diversity and how different experiences can create global connections is a beautiful reminder of how on voice can spark transformation. 

Elvire
Sep 28, 2015
Sep 28, 2015

Thanks Cayla.

Learning about what is happening in other places is really helping me; and I trust that joining our voices will continue to help make a  difference.

nsahmala
Sep 28, 2015
Sep 28, 2015

Hello Elvire!

It is so nice to know there is a great Cameroonian lady here like you. You are not only a great women leader but also a talented writer. If you have not negun publishing short stories and poems, I would like to strongly suggest you start doing so. Blogging will also be a very good publishing path for you! You English is impeccable and your introductory sentences are powerful writing hooks (at least for me as a writer). 

Your posts here also speak of the diversity of Cameroon which is Africa in Miniature while at the same time uplifting and encouraging woment to dare out fo their stereotypical zones of comfort. The world is becoming digital and digitalizing female leaders' voices like we do here on World Pulse is even a MUST. 

And you have done a great job here by bringing up the issue of verbal/digital violence aginst women. Our women need to be respected and cherished whether online or offline. Your stories also show that you really epitomize a women leader who initially thought leadership was the preserve of a chosen few. I suggest you turn to Facebok groups an dblogging in order to reach out the other Cameroonian women about the necessity for them to denounce all forms of violence and discrimination agaisnt them. Daisy Obare of Kenya, also doing this course with you, is equally passionate about ending digital VAW and you may find her a great partner.

VICTORY belongs to courageous and hopeful leaders like you and I so proud to be both your Cameroonian and university brother. I promise you full support as you strive to empower our women. My budding NGO also envisions women empowerment among other objectives.

Warmest greetings from Yaounde, Cameroon.

Kenneth Toah Nsah

(pen name: NSAH MALA)

Cameroon

Elvire
Oct 05, 2015
Oct 05, 2015

Thanks Kenneth!

You are in Yaoundé, which university?

Thanks for your kind words.

A world where nobody does or suffers from injustice is my ideal, and I believe we can create it, one step at a time, in our room, house, compound, neighborhood, and it will grow gradually to fill different places. Glad to meet you here, and hoping we can take joint actions on the field in the future. Thanks for recommending friends; I have sent requests.

Wish you all the best;

nsahmala
Oct 05, 2015
Oct 05, 2015

Hello Elvire!

I am very ready that we take future actions. I am affiliated to the University of Yaounde I and ENS Yaounde, though presently teaching English at Lycee de Monatele II.

I am happy you found my suggestions for the freinds helpful. 

Together, shall level the gender fields and end violence against all human beings.

You may request me on Facebook using the name Nsah Mala. This way we can then exchange contacts much more discretely.

Best regards,

Kenneth Toah Nsah

SamanthaCarroll
Sep 29, 2015
Sep 29, 2015

Elvire,

Welcome to the community! I really enjoyed reading your experiences how you came to WorldPulse, as well as your efforts to introduce other women to our space.

I have never been to Africa, and was instantly hooked by your descriptions of your country.It sounds like a beautiful place to be.

You posed an interesting question in your post of verbal abuse vs physical abuse and how verbal abuse is met with physical violence that is labelled as "self defense". I can see how that can distress you, as it distresses me that any abuse is being carried out in the first place. I believe that no one, regardless of gender, should use violence, threats or manipulation against anyone.

Since I am unfamiliar with your country and customs, I am not sure of any answers or solutions.  However, as an educated, strong advocate, you may be the one who acts as a catalyst for change. Are there education programs for women to learn what is acceptable behavior and what is not? Is there anyone working on creating laws to protect someone from abuse and manipulation?

I look forward to reading more from you and your experiences. Even though we come from two very different worlds, I feel that we share a common belief system and that we can work together to improve our universal experiences. This is what makes Worldpulse such a great tool!

Regards,

Samantha

Elvire
Oct 05, 2015
Oct 05, 2015

Hi Samantha.

You are right, no violence should be encouraged or justified, we need to work for a violence-free place for all. There are laws, which some respect and others don't. Customs and traditions still influence life very much, even right in courts and even as the country has alligned with most of the human rights agreements/decisions/ laws, etc. Government services have been created to protect and defend victims, but they are not very effective. Organisations of the civil society have joined in, offering trauma healing care, trainings ob bith rights and responsibilities, follow up and other support services. Many of us exist across the country, especially where local cultures do not present us as threads to social order; it is just that the needs are overwhelmingly more than what we can do. But we will not relent. Thanks for the ideas and questions, they are helpful.

champagne
Sep 29, 2015
Sep 29, 2015

Dera Elvire,

We found World Pulse in the same way.If things meant to happen it will be.Accidentally or purposely you found the World Pulse but I feel it's a calling.You have a strong leadership,a good heart  and talent inside on you that can change your community,the whole Cameroon.

You describe,and give details about your country.I can visualized how beautiful Cameroon is.But I can't imagine that violence is a huge problem in your country.

Education,is only answer for violence.And every woman should know about there right,how to fight for it.And most important is there is someone or organization that can help them.I believe in you sister that u can do this.Keep in touch.God bless.

Regards,

Champagne

 

Elvire
Oct 05, 2015
Oct 05, 2015

Hi, Champagne; Your words are encouraging. I appreciate them. thanks too for your comments, practical and so true: ignorance is a very big factor in the current situation and education will make an enormous difference. The illiterates and poor are those suffering the most. For many fathers, the return on investment is insignificant when you invest on a girl's education. It is better that she spends time with her mother in the kitchen and in the farm learning to be a good wife and mother. Can you imagine that? A lot remains to be done, but I like the bold steps taken by many, to share the vision with gvovernment officials and other decisions makers.

Kadidia Doumbia
Oct 01, 2015
Oct 01, 2015

Elvire,

Domestic violence, violence against women have always a so-called reason. But we all know that nobody has the right to abuse another person.

The reality is that both women and men need to be re-educated to learn how to interact politely even when they disagree. It is a long journy but it is worth trying. You may have some ideas on how to undertake such a project based on your understanding of your own cultural environment.

We will be waiting for your suggestions. We hope to hear from you soon.

Elvire
Oct 05, 2015
Oct 05, 2015

You are so right, Kadidia,

Nothing can justify violence, re/education is one of the best keys to bring change. It is a long journey, but it is worth trying indeed. These are so true!

Convinving women to speak up and denounce is one of the hardest things but it is changing.

For the past two years, and it is becoming an annual event, we have used the international women's day (March 08) as an opportunity to organise a one-week long programme with differnet events to raise awareness, educate and encourage people against injustice and about gender issues. These include round tables or conferences, debates, coaching/mentoring sessions discussion forums, economic empowerment seminars. For the coming edition, violence is again the main theme: domestic violence and its impact on children, discrimination in professional growth, gender-based cultural discriminations like inheritance, spouse choice, number of children, why boys are preferred to girls, divorce, widowhood rituals, etc, will be handled, together with a capacity building seminar on planning and financial management. It is usually an opportunity to bring together young and mature women, victims and perpetrators of injustice, experts/resource persons, government officers. We are still working on the planning, the list of sub-themes will be finalised based on the women's requests, by the end of  November. 

Thanks for your encouragements dear Kadidia, a peaceful world, a peaceful neighborhood, a peaceful home is a development catalyst, beneficial for all.

And Thanks for asking, you have helped me make one step further in the preparations.

Kadidia Doumbia
Nov 01, 2015
Nov 01, 2015

Elvire,

All of us need encouragement to keep on moving forward. never stop doing what you're doing and keep on believing in yourself. Our community needs women like you and keep us informed of your good work.