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Q&A with Patience Agwenjang, Diploma ‘14

 

Patience here at Coady in 2014

Patience Agwenjang attended the 2014 Diploma in Development Leadership program at StFX’s Coady International Institute. Today she is inspiring youth in her native Cameroon to become more involved in the political process and their local communities. A lawyer by training, Patience is a programme officer with the Youth Outreach Programme in Cameroon. 

Q: How are you working with youth in Cameroon?

In March 2015 I held a Symposium on Youth and Public Management in Cameroon with over 110 youth leaders from 34 councils in northwest Cameroon. I shared some of my Coady learnings on citizenship, democracy and power and the youth are requesting more learning sessions. I am planning to launch a Young Women Leadership Training Program under the Research and Advocacy for Gender Justice (RAGJ), an association that I founded in 2013.

Q: What aspects of your Coady education are you putting into practice?

I have been using my improved advocacy skills to strengthen the integrity, recognition, and visibility of National Youth Council leaders as they advocate for youth policies while resisting political manipulation. We are leading the collection of signatures for a petition to the Minister of Youth and Civic Education to translate the national youth policy into English, and for the Parliament to adopt a code of implementation for the youth policy. I have been thinking of taking this petition online so that more Cameroonian youth can sign it.

Patience facilitating workshop

Q: You’re doing a lot to empower young girls and women. Are there any special challenges?

I encounter very few young women engaged in politics. And if they are represented in any decision-making structures, they lack the skills and knowledge to make their participation effective. They are intimated by their male counterparts and cultural ideologies. I am thinking of engaging young women in learning, reflections and thematic collaborative research processes (applying Coady's cooperative inquiry techniques) to develop concrete strategies to support the effective integration of gender issues in good governance programs.

Q: Congratulations on being nominated as a finalist for the Young African Leaders Initiative! When do you find out?

I was very fortunate to be shortlisted and interviewed for this competition. The final results will be communicated to us in April.   

For more information on the Diploma in Development Leadership program, the same course Patience took last year, visit coady.stfx.ca/education/diploma_2015/