By Boris Esono Nwenfor
Women have been urged to break stereotypes and cultural beliefs in a bid to attain economic empowerment. This is one of several recommendations made during a panel discussion organised by the Nkafu Policy Institute, a think tank of the Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation.
The panel discussion organised on Friday September 9 was placed under the theme “analysing laws and policies on strengthening women’s economic empowerment in Cameroon”.
The event which brought together members of a working group, is part of a Nkafu Policy Institute project dubbed Promoting Women Economic Rights in Cameroon, WERC project.
According to the chairperson of the working group, Barrister Chefu Sirri Joy, in order for women to attain economic empowerment, they must pull themselves out of certain stereotypes and cultural believes that limits them.
She reiterated that women must be daring and to take advantage of the opportunities made available by government. “There is the problem of cultural barriers to women who have grown up in homes to be mediocre or not to think that certain opportunities or professions are for women. They don’t push for these opportunities because they don’t see the women role models who have goon ahead,” the working group chairperson said.
She added that: “Most women think it is okay to be just a teacher, nurse, and related domains and would not dare into great opportunities in technologies, medicine and others. It is not because they cannot do, but because they have been made to know that some of those professions or opportunities are meant for men. We need to break all these stereotypes”.
Gov’t urged to create taskforces for follow-up
It was observed that despite the availability of laws that protect women or push women to exercise their economic rights, the laws are hardly implemented.
As a result, it was recommended that some taskforces be created in ministries to ensure that certain projects and opportunities targeting grass root women are actually implemented by them.
“Most women do not have access to the possibilities that the law has offered them, whether are educated or not. For example, there are some financial opportunities that the ministries give to women who are into entrepreneurship or agriculture but most of these women are not aware of this opportunities,” Barrister Chefu stated, before adding that “there is a problem of actually relaying these opportunities to the women at the grass root level. Those who get to know these opportunities don’t often know how to access them with the necessary documents”.
“We recommended that every ministry should have a taskforce that ensures projects meant for grass root women, are actually implemented by grass root women.
Further highlighting the need of having small groups that bring together women entrepreneurs of different sectors to ensure stronger groups that are mutually beneficial, the chairperson insisted that women need to be educated and have their capacities built to take advantage of the available opportunities.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Director of Economic Affairs division at the Nkafu Policy Institute, Dr Jean Cedric Kouam, explained that the objective of Friday’s gathering was to analyse the laws and policies put in place to ensure the empowerment of women in Cameroon.
“Since November 2021, the Nkafu Policy Institute took the engagement to promote the economic rights of women in Cameroon. It is a very important assignment considering the world development objectives such as Agenda 2063 which envisages a develop Africa that sustainably develops,” Dr Kouam explained.
He added that “Women are an important factor in the promotion of an inclusive and sustainable Africa. So at the Nkafu Policy Institute, we are engage to promoting their economic rights as they constitute over 50% of the population in Cameroon and sub-Saharan Africa. We can’t catalyse the economic development of Africa without women”.
About WERC Project
According to the WERC Project Lead, Sylvie Namondo, the WERC Project funded by the Atlas Network, is aimed at advocating for the removal of gender discriminatory laws that prevent women from engaging in economic productive activities. The project constitute several activities from panel discussions of operational working groups to publication of academic reports.