. 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 endeavours in building a culture of peace and rights in Bakassi made her to advocate and mediate 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 served as the Relay coordinator between European Union sub programs to structure and to strengthen civil society organizations for 6 consecutive years in the South West Region with a total of 249 CSOs benefitting. She equally established a civil society, public-private dialogue platform which earned her the best relay in establishing public-private dialogue platforms among the 09 other male relays in the other 9 regions, having her as the only woman in that position to mediate between civil society and government structures. Esther has been the Regional Vice president of the Performance Basket Fund by the World Bank and the National Community-Driven Development Program (PNDP).
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.
She led a delegation of women in the USA to meet key leaders of the separatist groups to negotiate about schools’ resumptions in the North West and South West regions and equally led a delegation of women in the pre-dialogue in 2019 with the PM, facilitated the participation of women in the Major National Dialogue -2019. She coordinated the Voices of Community Women: A platform of Women Peacebuilders in Cameroon (VOCOW) for a peaceful march with more than 3500 women attending in Kumba to denounce the brutal killing of 07 children.
She has been enhancing youths’ initiatives for peace and organizing youth engagement programs where youths learn about peaceful cohabitation, social cohesion, positive attitudes, healthy living, leadership, and community development and the use of I.T. for peacebuilding. She has embarked on the strengthening of capacities of grassroot women from the six divisions of the South West region on peacebuilding and mediation. She has organized inter-generational dialogues between young girls and mothers to understand generational gaps, she has facilitated the development of their advocacy strategy, helped them to put in place a coordination structure, facilitated the process of their legalization and supported them on self-care for healing the trauma and psychosocial care – psycho-emotional healing.
When a cholera epidemic broke out in November 2021 in Bamusso, Esther and her organization Reach Out was the first responders saving several lives and setting the ground works for other international NGOs and the regional delegation of public health to step in. This feat is symbolic of the work Reach Out has being doing in humanitarian response despite being a local NGO and always reaching out to the most remote cut off communities where many government and other NGOs are unable to cover.
She is one of 8 finalists for the 2022 Exceptional Women of Peace Award and was equally recognized as an exceptional African woman advancing the Women, Peace and Security Agenda in Africa by being featured on United Nations Office to the African Union ebook “She Stands for Peace”. This comes after she received an Award of Excellence her work in Women Peace, Security Agenda-WPS and humanitarian response from the Minister of Women’s Empowerment and the Family this July 2022. In 2021, Esther received the Lois International Awards USA for the Best Peace Advocate on the 11th of September 2021 and was a finalist for the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) award. She was recognized with the 2020 Outstanding Humanitarian, Peace and Mediator Award by the Scoop Media Group, recognized by Global Peace Citizen as a peace ambassador, she was recognized to be among the 20 influential women in Cameroon “(movers and shakers) by the Guardian Post. Defile Hate, the International Civil Society Action Group (ICAN), the Women Mediators Across the Commonwealth (WMC) and the New Humanitarian recently profiled her. Omam Esther got the 2020 peace award in Cameroon for being the pioneer woman in peacebuilding by the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon Peace Office and the Union of Peace Builders in Cameroon. She also got the award of the Cameroon SHERO on COVID19 prevention in October 2020 by the Women in Global Health Cameroon. She is serving as UN Women Civil Society Advisory group in Cameroon. She recently emerged first female peacebuilder in Cameroon from the four retained in the National Planning Committee for the organization of the first ever National women’s Peace Convention for which she played a front-line role and served as the President of the Task Force for Personalities, an event which brough over 1200 women at the Conference Centre in Yaoundé from the 20th -31st July 2021.
She was invited in June 2021 by the office of the UN Guinee Conakry to share best practices with the Coalition of Guinean women for Peace through: Facilitation of a workshop to support the structuring of the women’s movement in conflict prevention, peacebuilding and national unity and capacity building of women in strategic planning and negotiations. She recently participated in the First Ever National Women’s Negotiations for Peace in Cameroon by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Foundation and CRISP where she mediated the conflict in the Extreme North between Cameroon and Boko Haram. Esther has been mediating and negotiating conflicts at family, community and national level.
Esther works with local communities on humanitarian relief, human rights, peace mediation and cohesion and her organization has served over 450,000 displaced persons in need since the beginning of the conflict.
TECHNICAL SKILLS Working with armed groups, Working with civil society, Working with governments who are conflict parties, Facilitating multi-party mediations, Working with IDPs, refugees and returnees, Working with women, Working with youth, Establishing or advising state peace ministries, Violence prevention interventions, Engaging religious communities on social cohesion, Working with youth involved in extremist groups, working with families.
THEMATIC KNOWLEDGE Conflict-related sexual violence, Gender-based violence, Humanitarian access and concerns, Women, mediation, peace and security
Language Spoken: English, French and Pidgin, spoken and written.
Esther Oman is an IM Campus Alumni