By Boris Esono Nwenfor
Some stakeholders have brainstormed on advocacy strategies to be deployed to achieve gender equality in Cameroon. This was during the first edition of a project known as Promotion of Women’s Economic Rights in Cameroon, WERC developed by the Nkafu Policy Institute of the Denis and Lenora Foretia foundation.
Held on Friday, March 25 in Yaounde, the meeting brought together civil society activists, lawmakers, women leaders and representatives of the government. With discussions focusing on the theme “Gender policy advocacy in Cameroon,” the participants examined gender inequalities in the country, identified challenges women face in overcoming gender inequalities and as well proposed key recommendations for effective advocacy for gender equality in Cameroon.
Speaking at the end of the forum, the WERC project lead, Ms Namondo Sylvia said despite measures put in place by the government to ensure gender equality, women continue to suffer injustices, discrimination and remain in a state of poverty and underemployment.
“In Cameroon, women constitute about 52% of the population and out of this, about 80% are unemployed or underemployed. The government has done a lot to break this gender gap but women still face a lot of injustices and there’s still a very high rate of the poverty line for women in Cameroon,” the project lead explained, adding that “there is a need to bring together these parliamentarians, women leaders, civil society leaders to take a look at these barriers and propose solid recommendations that can be useful to policymakers, and to empower women economically in Cameroon”.
“We have identified ignorance on the part of most women who also don’t know their rights, so there is a need to educate them, especially those in the rural areas, to know their rights and how they can break this gender gap,” Ms Namondo added.
On her part, the chairperson of the working group, Barrister Chefu Joy disclosed that one of the recurrent issues during the panel discussion was the fact that women need the government’s support to be able to bridge the gender gap.
“…We need the government to be able to facilitate some of these laws… and make it more accessible for women especially the rural women so that they can be able to attain their full economic potential,” the lawyer who doubles as founder of Chefu Sirri Foundation stated
Meanwhile, Madam Mbala Ntama Anne Marie, the representative of the Ministry of Women Empowerment and the Family, MINPROFF, assured us that women’s economic empowerment has been at the centre of the government’s policy.
“When we talk of economic empowerment, there’s first of all empowerment and empowerment is improving knowledge in all aspects be it their rights, personal leadership or economic opportunities. It is especially these aspects that reinforce what we call economic empowerment. So MINPROFF is working towards all these,” the government official stated.
She further explained that: “We have been doing training and reinforcement of their capacities on their rights and also advocacy to the high authorities, traditional and religious leaders for women’s access to decision making positions. Also, there should be women’s access to information and training on their rights and obligations”.
It is worth noting that the WERC project developed by the Nkafu Policy Institute aims to remove barriers to women’s participation in productive activities by conducting advocacy campaigns with a coalition of government actors, parliamentarians, business stakeholders, academics and the media to promote women’s economic rights in Cameroon. To achieve the project’s objectives, the operational working group is tasked with exploring policy reforms that can be put in place to eradicate the various barriers that impede women’s economic participation in productive activities.
About the WERC Project and the Operational Working Group (OWG)
The WERC (Promotion of Women’s Economic Rights in Cameroon) project developed by the Nkafu Policy Institute aims to remove barriers to women’s participation in productive activities. Specifically, it aims to conduct an advocacy campaign with a coalition of government actors, parliamentarians, businesses, media and academics to promote women’s economic rights in Cameroon. In this sense, the project will advocate for women’s economic prosperity and freedom in Cameroon, focusing on how policy and institutional considerations frame the conditions of their access to national resources in general, and in particular how certain administrative measures or existing laws constitute obstacles to their equal participation in productive activities.
To achieve the project’s objectives, the Operational Working Group (OWG) is tasked with exploring policy reforms that can be put in place to eradicate the various barriers that impede women’s economic participation in productive activities. Specifically, the OWG’s mission is to:
Identify and thoroughly review policies and administrative measures or bills that impede women’s equal participation in productive activities that exist in Cameroon; Propose strategies on how to advocate for policy reforms and the removal of administrative measures and bills that impede women’s economic development; Identify areas for improvement in current Cameroonian policies and laws that impede women’s economic empowerment; Propose an action plan for the implementation of the recommendations made during the working group sessions and Prepare and submit to stakeholders a report with recommendations on the promotion of women’s economic rights in Cameroon.
This OWG is composed of committed citizens who are known for their commitment and leadership in the empowerment of women in the country. These include members of relevant national and international organizations, who will be invited to participate; private sector experts, lawyers, entrepreneurs and academics who will be invited as appropriate for consultation and based on specific topics and themes.