As we mark Human Rights Day, equality is an issue we see, face, and combat every day. This year the UN has called on the world to take durable steps to promote equality. Equality in dignity and rights for all supporting opportunities and outcomes for fairer and inclusive societies. At CNI, we embrace the need for equality to contribute to making our society fairer and inclusive.
For Contra Nocendi International, one of key goals in the fight for equality is the promoting women’s rights and gender fairness. We have a dedicated team working to promote women’s rights and develop durable solutions with women in Cameroon. This team is women-led and is re-enforced by the promotion of gender fairness in the articles of association of Contra Nocendi International. Gender fairness is part of our core identity. We are also working with the Law Clinic on Human and Fundamental Rights at the University of Grenoble to investigate the issues facing women in detention in Cameroon. This is not just a review of the actual treatment of women in Cameroon and the legal framework for women in detention in Cameroon, it is also a review of the international human rights framework that is meant to protect women in detention. This will include identifying gaps in legal protections in international human rights law.
Our organisation also supports the need for fairness in vaccine access. The continent of Africa has seen unacceptably low access to the covid-19 vaccines. We felt first-hand the impact of the lack of access with members of our staff being impacted by the pandemic. We have felt the worries of colleagues and friends. We have also watched as our communities were impacted by the pandemic and their safety was deprioritised due to not being in more developed countries. This must change. Every human being has a right to access to health. Your country of birth or residence shouldn’t factor in your ability to access a vaccine for a disease that has claimed more than 6,000,000 lives around the globe.
We have also stood behind the rights of children working with partners to promote children’s rights in Cameroon including with our partners at SODEI. Children and young adults need access to quality education and the necessary support to be active human rights holders. In many countries, children’s rights are not adequately protected by law and are not adequately available for children in their day-to-day life. This level of unfairness and lack of opportunity could stymie the next generation and through no fault of their own. Our commitment to children’s rights includes having our Deputy Executive Director and co-founder leading of Children’s rights team. We have also provided pro bono legal counsel for minors in pre-trial detention, and we plan to expand those efforts in 2022. We are also working with partners that support displaced persons to develop services for displaced children.
Importantly, Contra Nocendi International believes that any effort at promoting equality must include sexual orientation and gender identity and expression (SOGIE) rights. We have worked with SOGIE rights organisations across the globe and our commitment to SOGIE rights will not change. We have seen LGBTIQ+ persons harassed and harmed due to the bigotry and ignorance of others. SOGIE rights are human rights. This is not an argument, but a statement of fact. We have raised concerns about human rights abuses against LGBTIQ+ persons to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and UN human rights bodies. This will continue as aggressive as ever.
Contra Nocendi International without an ethos of equality would not be Contra Nocendi International. We fully embrace and support the focus of equality for Human Rights Day 2021. Equality is part of our DNA.