Aehshatou Manu is the national women coordinator of the Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association. In her role, Aehshatou has been contributing to reshaping local and international policies with regards to the indigenous peoples' rights. She specializes in advocating for the rights of the indigenous pastoralist and the forest gatherers communities in Cameroon. She is also involved with the promotion of women’s rights.
“My area of expertise is women’s and girls’ rights, especially the land rights of women as a crucial factor for their economic empowerment,” says Aehshatou. “I provide capacity building workshops for youth and women. This includes human rights, civic responsibility, and entrepreneurial skills training for indigenous women and girls, focusing in particular on income generating activities, leadership skills, combatting gender-based violence, and mitigating climate change.”
Aehshatou reports: “HRAP has greatly improved my skills of networking, strategic thinking, and planning. I better understood my strengths and gained the ability to better articulate human rights concerns of the indigenous communities in a global context of minority rights. Not only has the knowledge I gained with HRAP had paramount importance for my personal development, but it has also benefited my organization and other professional networks to which I belong. My arguments gained more weight when advocating for policy changes for the indigenous peoples at local, national, regional and international levels.”
Aehshatou has put into practice some of what she learned in HRAP through activities including an oral history as well as four documentaries about the Mbororo indigenous peoples’ communities. In 2018, she was chosen for the prestigious Mandela Washington Fellowship of the Department of State and attended a training program at the Presidential Precinct University of Virginia where she further improved her theoretical knowledge and leadership skills.
In terms of international advocacy efforts, Aehshatou has taken an active part in the United Nation’s Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and in its Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In 2018, Aehshatou was invited to participate at the United Nations Human Rights Council’s 39th session.
In March-April 2019, during the ongoing crises in the North-West and South-West regions of Cameroon, Aehshatou led humanitarian assistance activities on behalf of her organization for the women and girls of the internally displaced Mbororo pastoralist indigenous people (IDPs). The assistance program included addressing the basic needs of the IDPs and providing financial support to nine women to start up a small business to sustain their families.
- Article updated by Chiora Taktakishvili, Fulbright Exchange Visitor, June 2019