Esther Omam of Cameroon Selected As Finalist For Global Pluralism Award

Cameroonian peacebuilder and rights advocate Esther Omam has been selected as one of 10 finalists for the 2023 Global Pluralism Award. As the Executive Director of Reach Out NGO which promotes the rights of women and children in conflict-affected areas and advances women’s participation in the peacebuilding process, Esther Omam was selected for mobilizing women to call for an end to conflict in Cameroon. Selected from among 200 submissions from 60 countries, Esther Omam stands out for putting women’s participation at the center of peacebuilding efforts in Cameroon.

To amplify women’s voices, strengthen their agency and draw attention to the impacts of violence and trauma on their communities, Ms Omam established the Southwest/ Northwest Women’s Taskforce. She was one of the leading organizers of the first-ever National Women’s Convention for Peace, which drew over 1,200 women from across the country to demand an end to violence. From facilitating the participation of women in local and national dialogues, to opening a peace house that offers temporary accommodation and counselling to survivors of gender-based violence, Ms Omam champions pluralism by strengthening communities and uniting voices to call for peace and social cohesion in Cameroon.

To Ms Omam bringing this award home will be a recognition of her efforts towards building an inclusive and diverse society. In addition, it will be a remarkable step towards raising further awareness on the topic of pluralism in Cameroon, as there is an urgency expressed to address issues of injustice, inequality and exclusion in the society.

From among these 10 finalists, three winners and seven honorable mention recipients will be announced in October and recognized at a ceremony to be held in November in Ottawa, Canada. Each winner will receive a prize of $50,000 (CAD) to further their work in support of pluralism.

Below are the list of the 10 Finalists of the Global Pluralism Award 2023: (Alphabetically)

  1. Build Up (Kenya/United States/Global) works with peacebuilding institutions and a network of peace innovators to tackle polarization and make peacebuilding processes more inclusive of diverse voices and perspectives with a specific focus on digital technologies.
  2. Deeyah Khan (Norway/United States) is a documentary filmmaker and activist countering extremism and fostering understanding and empathy across ideological, religious and racial divides.
  3. Esther Omam (Cameroon) is a peacebuilder, mediator and human rights defender mobilizing women and youth from across Cameroon to advocate for an end to conflict and hostilities.
  4. The Global Interfaith Network for People of All Sexes, Sexual Orientations, Gender Identities and Expressions – GIN-SSOGIE (South Africa/Global) supports LGBTIQ+ people of faith from the Global South and East to advocate for an end to violence and persecution against sexual and gender minorities.
  5. India Love Project (India) challenges exclusion and prejudice in India by sharing love stories of non-traditional unions between interfaith, inter-caste and LGBTQ+ couples on social media.
  6. Lea Baroudi (Lebanon) is a peace mediator using art, culture and social enterprise to provide Lebanese youth with the rare opportunity to build a future outside of violent extremism and sectarianism.
  7. Politize! Civic Education Institute (Brazil) is a non-partisan and non-profit organization tackling polarization in Brazil by producing free and unbiased political education, training civic leaders to solve public policy problems and training teachers to educate youth to become engaged citizens.
  8. Red de Intérpretes y Promotores Interculturales Asociación Civil (Mexico) is an Indigenous youth collective in Oaxaca, Mexico tackling exclusion by providing otherwise unavailable Indigenous language interpretation to those involved in legal proceedings.
  9. REFORM: The Palestinian Association for Empowerment and Local Development (Palestine) is a non-governmental organization building solidarity between groups in Palestine by empowering them to get involved in social life and influence decision-making.
  10. Touché (Belgium) is a social enterprise providing support to current and former prisoners and at-risk youth and, in the process, advancing a positive view of anger and aggression.