It was a few minutes past 1:pm on Thursday13th January 2015; a day set aside to plan for the International Women’s Day 2015. She walks into the room, gently, and fixed herself on her seat. The solemn look on her face could prove that something was eating her up. She broke the silence by greeting the Bamenda women gathered to plan for the International Women’s Day 2015. Still with that sad but yet friendly look on her face, she welcomed everybody present and without waste of time spilled out her first thought of how she wanted the IWD 2015 celebrated in Bamenda.
She was the Regional Delegate of Women’s Empowerment and the Family for the North West, Mme. Judy Ngweh Abong.
This were her opening words:
“Let’s celebrate the International Women’s Day 2015 in a more different way. Let’s celebrate it in prayer. Lets focus our prayers against Boko Haram, against the Ebola Virus, against GBV, against all the challenges that are befalling us in recent times. Let’s pray for our soldiers who are fighting face to face with Boko Haram in the Northern part of the country. Let’s pray for women folk in general, and for men too. Let’s pray for peace — peace in our homes, in our society, in Africa, and in the world. Let’s pray, fast, pray, and fast, without ceasing. Women of Bamenda, let’s pray from March 1st to March 31st like never before. That is how I want us to celebrate this year’s IWD.”
Her address was warmly welcomed as if every women who came to attend the meeting had the same thought. As the general planification was going on, the focal point of prayer was given special consideration. The women agreed on how to go about the prayer in their different Christian denominations and moslem faith. Without waste of time, Friday the 6th of March was set aside as the day of public prayer manifestation, starting from the Bamenda Grand Stand to the office of the Governor of the North West Region.
One step at a time, the women marched, carrying placards inscribed with religious as well as peace messages. They carried national symbols and they prayed and chant religious songs as they climbed the steep long Bamenda Up Station hill heading to the Governor’s office. A hill no woman their ages would normally accept to do even with huge payments, some women revealed. They build alters, brought down the walls of Bamenda like that of Jericho, annointed Bamenda and Cameroon, and covered our soldiers with the mighty blood of Jesus. They prayed like never before. They climbed like never, ever.
You wouldn’t believe it, that the women covered the above 3kms hilly distance without any signs of tiredness. Most of these women had never done such a long walk, talk-less of climbing such a steep hill. They made it sound and healthy, and the ambulance that followed slowly behind had no job to perform because there wasn’t any casualty at all. The finally met the Governor of the Region, whom in dark clothing and solemn looks, sympathized with the women who have come from a long walk to pray and honour the nation. He assured them that all will be well, especially with our soldiers who are facing armed battles with the deadly Boko Haram.
Drawing from the biblical allusion that women have done and experienced great things from the days of the bible, the women strongly believed that their prayers can move mountains and change things.
After about 1hr 30mins of intense prayers, the Governor addressed the women and assured them of Governments support and interventions to protect the women and the nation as a whole. He assured them that government is doing everything possible to combat the Boko Haram soldiers who have turned their attention towards Cameroon.
Events of the prayer walked ended well, with women retreating to their various homes through different means of transport.
It should be noted that the theme for this International Women’s Day was:
“Implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action in Cameroon: Assessment and Future Prospects”
The world was celebrating the 30th Edition of the International Women’s Day on the 8th of March 2015. The biggest, most influential, and fourth world conference on women held to discuss the plight of women was held in 1995 in Beijing. Participants came from 189 countries. A total of 17,000 participants, including 6000 government delegates, 4000 accredited NGOs, 4000 media representatives, and a host of other individuals.
The Beijing conference set strategic objectives and actions for the advancement of women and the achievement of gender equality in 12 critical areas of concern, which include:
- Women and poverty
- Education and training of women
- Women and health
- Violence against women
- Women and armed conflict
- Women and the economy
- Women in power and decision-making
- Institutional mechanism for the advancement of women
- Human rights of women
- Women and the media
- Women and the environment
- The girl-child
It was the 12 critical points that the international community was assessing this year to build a brighter and stronger future. To mark the celebration proper in Bamenda on the 8th of March, the background music was religion-centered and nothing more. And the women marched passed peacefully in their IWD fabric which is a tradition in Cameroon. The good thing is, no major casualties were registered in Bamenda on the 8th of March 2015. That is the way I saw it on this year’s women’s day celebration!!!