February 16, 2021
By Mariah Omer, AFJN Student Intern

Divina Maloum is a young Cameroonian peace and social advocate. She is a winner of the fifteenth International Children’s Peace Prize, of 2019. Maloum was awarded for her efforts in “Promoting children’s rights by visiting the school to warn students against joining armed groups, such as Boko Haram.”  Her foundations Art for Peace and Children for Peace (C4P) promote children’s rights, gender equality and child participation in peacebuilding processes.

In 2014, Maloum travelled to Northern Cameroon to visit her family. That trip was a learning experience for her. She witnessed first-hand the impact of radicalization and the effects of violent extremism perpetrated against children and their families. During her visit, she discovered that children are the biggest target of terrorist attacks in that area. She noticed the recruitment and exploitation of children by Jihadist and violent extremist groups. Several children engaged in child labor and child suicide bomber as child soldiers. Those children were separated from their parents and they consequently dropped out of school. Especially, female students face a multi-dimensional challenge because they are exposed to human trafficking, abduction, commercial sexual exploitation, and much more. After she observed the deep-rooted problems, she initiated her movements to save the children who are the primary victims of Northern Cameroon’s civil unrest.

In 2015, Maloum founded Children for Peace, a grassroots level youth-led club that works in ten regions in Cameroon. On average, this club addresses more than five hundred children per year in mosques, schools, and open marketplaces. Through this inter-communal children’s peace movements, children become more aware of the terrible aftermath of joining a terrorist group. Likewise, Maloum has launched a children’s rights advocacy campaign to, among other things, prevent sexual exploitation and child trafficking. The sad part is that the armed conflict in Cameroon is likely to keep on claiming more victims because of lack of political will. More children will need help to be shielded from this violence.