Report on the launching of Her Voice Fund Strategy (2022-2025) in Cameroon
The launching of HER VOICE FUND strategy (2022-2025) in Cameroon took place on 9th December 2021 at the Cameroon Baptist Resource Centre, Mvan Yaounde.
The ceremony brought a total of eight stakeholders; 02 representatives of the CCM, Regional delegates of Public Health from the South West and Center Regions, 1 RGT repre-sentative from the South west region, 1 UNWOMEN representative, 01 Focal Point for the woman for the global, 1 representative from the National AIDS Control Commission, 06 HER VOICE grantees, 15 (fifteen) adolescent girls.
Firstly, the launching opened with a word of welcome from the HER Voice Fund Ambassador to Cameroon Cynthia WAKUNA. She thanked all for making out time to come join the HER Voice Family in Cameroon to launch this new strategy. On her heels was the HER Voice Country Lead, Clotilda Andiensa, who opened the session by presenting the HER Voice Fund , her activities in Cameroon and the 06 grantees who have benefitted from grant funding from ViiV Health CARE, Y plus Global and the Global Fund.
After the opening remarks, the HER Voice Fund Ambassador for Cameroon presented a summary of the HER Voice fund strategy as follows:
- Support movement building in the HIV response that celebrates the leadership of AGYW
- Influence and advocate in policies and programmes that promotes the health well-being and rights of AGYW
- Empower and support AGYW to participate and exercise leadership in key decision-making spaces at all levels
The launching speech for the event was delivered by the Regional Delegate of Public Health who represented the Honorable Minister of Public health. She appreciated the support which the HER Voice Fund through the Global Fund has been doing in supporting the Ministry of Health in addressing issues of HIV and SRHR of AGYW in Cameroon. She equally thanked the HER voice considered them strategic partners in the fight against HIV/Aids. She acknowledged that COVID 19 and the ongoing socio-political crises in some regions of Cameroon have aggravated the SRH problems of AGYW and the occurrence of new HIV has increased. She reiterated that while the Ministry of Health is doing all she could to address these issues,, they look forward to this new HER Voice Strategy as a welcome relief. She pointed out the Ministry’s readiness to work in synergy with HER VOICE team in Cameroon to achieve the objectives of the new strategy she ended her speech with a pledge to support AGYW in every way possible to continue getting their voices heard and captured in key decision making spaces.
PRESENTATION FROM GRANTEES
The next activity was presentation from Grantees organizations highlighting activities thay have carried out with funding surppoted by the HER Voice Fund during the implementation period 2020, 2021-2022. The first part saw Sustainable SWO, CAGEAD and COMAGEND who presented their projects objectives, activities and achievements realized with the support from HER Voice Fund and Partners. The other grantees, HOVUCA, LEAP GIRL AFRICA, BODY TALK AND VIAC did their presentations after the dialogue session with the AGYW and the stakeholders.
DIALOGUES SESSION WITH STAKEHOLDERS
The main highlight of the launch was the discussion session; a dialogue initiated between the AGYW and stakeholders. The discussion started with a brief introduction by one of the AGYW - Wellisane Agbor who presented some revealing statistics on HIV and adolescents gotten from the Cameroon DHS and the National Strategic plan for the fight against HIV/AIDS in Cameroon.
This was followed by questions coming from the AGYW. The first question posed was directed to the Ministry of Secondary Education although there was no representative. This question concerned some provisions of the 2018-2022 strategic plan and how far the plan has been implemented.
The Regional Delegate of Public health for the centre region answered the question and said the strategic Plan is a multisectorial plan encompassing all the related ministries working with adolescents Girls and Young Women, so any of the stakeholders can answer. She said the plan is not fully implemented in school because teachers need to be trained. However discussions on HIV should start from the home she went ahead to list many things that have been The teachers in school cannot give out lessons on SRH of AGYW because they have not been trained to do so and are therefore incompetent as far as lessons on HIV are concerned.
The second question was directed to the Regional Delegate of Public Health. This question concerns how AGYW have been involved in the planning and implementation of the regional management committee’s specific activities.
The third question was posed with reference to the National guidelines on prevention and management of HIV in Cameroon. The question posed was to know if the framework exist and how far it has been implemented if it does exist. How far are we sure that the information of this specific framework reaches out to the adolescent girls in their diversity?
The next question was posed to women in Global Focal Point concerning the accountability of the CCM. Another question was directed to all International organizations present concerning the AGYW in their platform and programs that concern them.
The last question came from Ambassador Sirri Cynthia. The question concerned the position held by AGYW in CCM and if they are represented in their diversities. It also concerned how information on the activities of the CCM are published to the public given that it is absent on the CCM website.
The Regional delegate responded to the question concerning the ministry of public health. She said that there work with regional association representing AGYW and advised AGYW to affiliate with these networks and associations so as to have a stronger voice.
The CCM acknowledged that they have problems managing the website and the solution is in progress. It was also mentioned that virtual retro information workshops are usually carried out in the communities.
The UNWOMEN responded by urging AGYW to develop their competencies to be able to occupy these spaces they request for and he pledged to offer free sanitary pads in the like manner condoms are freely given and youths should write projects and will be granted.
Women for Global Fund Focal Point presented what they do. The fund is concerned with ensuring that programs funded by the Global Fund meet the need of AGYW. The focal point said they have been able to mobilize 10 AGYW to join the team because they need to be 10 in Cameroon to ensure the work is being done. And also they are ensuring appropriate language for policy documents concerning AGYW in order for it to be comprehensive to all AGYW.
National AIDS control commission was asked if AGYW are included in the planning of their SRHR or are only included in the implementation. The representative of the National AIDS control commission responded by pledging that they will start working with grantee organizations to include AGYW.
The HER Voice Fund Ambassador and Country Lead thanked the stakeholders who have attended the launching ceremony and urged them to conduct restitution sessions back in the regions. They reiterated the main objective bringing them on Board was for them to create spaces for AGYW to participate in decision making spaces and for their voices to be considered in decisions concerning them.