By Tata Mbunwe
The Founder and Executive Director of Reach Out Cameroon, Esther Omam Njomo, has become the first Cameroonian to win the prestigious Global Pluralism Award.
The award is offered every two years to outstanding civil society organisations who are championing inclusion and diversity in their activities.
Mrs Omam was distinguished from 200 applicants across 60 countries for her passionate contribution to peace building within the ongoing armed conflict in the Anglophone Regions of Cameroon.
The award was announced in the Canadian capital, Ottawa, on October 25, by the Global Centre for Pluralism and an independent, international jury of experts.
She will receive the accolade in Ottawa in November, accompanied by a token of $50,000 (approximately FCFA 31 million).
Reacting to news of the award, Esther Omam said it testifies of one of her core values – leaving no one behind.
“This award is a reaffirmation of the value of the concept of ‘Leave no one behind’,” she said. That humanity, more than ever before, should always come first. That our diversity is our bond and that, with pluralism, everyone can have a voice.”
The award is not surprising to many who have watched her work tirelessly in fostering peace and humanitarian work. She has been at the fore of defending the rights of women and children affected by the Anglophone Crisis.
Through her organisation, Reach Out, whose headquarters is in Buea, the peace bulldozer has impacted the lives of 1,700,000 in the North West and South West Regions.
Omam is also credited for founding the Southwest/Northwest Women’s Task Force (SNWOT). It is a grassroots coalition of women leaders who are championing the cause of peace in the Anglophone Regions.
She was one of the convenors of the first-ever National Women’s Convention for Peace in Cameroon in July 2021. The event drew over 1,800 women from across the country to demand an end to violence.
Her strides towards maximizing Cameroon’s diversity potentials have been enormous.
The country suffers a language crisis that is nearly ripping the nation apart. Amid these challenges, Esther Omam has stood her grounds as a negotiator of peace and nonviolence.
The organizers of the Global Pluralism Award noted that the award particularly recognizes those who believe that pluralism is an asset.
“Those who work for pluralism, those who truly believe that diversity is a source of strength and not weakness, need to be acknowledged and celebrated,” said Dr. Marwan Muasher, Award Jury Chair and Vice President for Studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Moreover, the Secretary General of the Global Centre for Pluralism, Meredith Preston McGhie, noted that people like Esther Omam have proven that a pluralistic society is possible.
“The 2023 Global Pluralism Award winners are demonstrating that with creativity and courage, advancing pluralism is truly possible. Their achievements offer so much hope for the future when it is needed most,” he said.
The Global Pluralism Award is the latest of Esther Omam’s numerous awards earned for her relentless peace building efforts.
The award once again spotlights the strides of Cameroonian women towards a just and equitable society.