By Boris Esono Nwenfor
Meeting in an online panel discussion on Promoting Women’s Economic Rights in Cameroon (WERC Project) organized by Nkafu Policy Institute, a Thinktank at the Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation, women leaders and activists have called on the Cameroon government to involve women in all project implementation and should take into consideration, vulnerable groups.
Speaking on the theme “Enhancing Women’s Access to Social Protection in Cameroon,” this March 18, 2022, the speakers noted that there are a need to build the right partnerships with CSOs, NGOs and development partners and there is a need for a reform of the National Social Insurance Fund in Cameroon to guarantee social protection, especially for women.”
By implementing the National Development Strategy 2020-2030 (NDS30) in November 2020, the Government of Cameroon has placed social protection at the centre of the fight against poverty and vulnerability.
“Looking at National Social Insurance in Cameroon, it is mostly accessible by women in the formal sector or women who are registered under the labour code then I start asking myself what happens to women who are in the informal sector like market vendors and farmers,” said Sama Mildred Ngenseh, Communication Officer and Community worker at Draufsicht Bamenda on the situation social protection in Cameroon.
“There is no accountability when it comes to social protection. In Bamenda when Covid 19 provisions were shared, the same people kept benefitting.”
Ms Emily Miky, CEO of Denis Miki Foundation on the issue noted that “Information is not shared about opportunities and those aware inform their people, so the same people keep benefitting from all the opportunities, this is why a lot has been done with the little impact created.”
“We cannot talk about social protection without addressing the barrier of women to access the labour market. Most women in the informal sector are not educated enough to understand the need or the advantage for them to move to the formal sector,” Fri Asanga, CEO of the Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation said.
The speakers noted that there is a lot that is being done by the government in the aspect of social protection. But they, however, noted that there is still much that needs to be done as social assistance is done based on data that is questionable. “We have a problem in Cameroon that stems from data which is unreliable. Once you don’t have reliable data then you don’t reach the right people who need assistance with the right type of assistance that they required,” Fri Asanga added.
About women, in particular, the government has developed a National Gender Policy (NGP) document dealing with gender issues in the strategies and budgets of the ministries, the creation of a large number of projects and programs in favour of women at the national and local levels, and the implementation of various activities to promote women’s rights.
The experts spoke on various thematic such as: Evaluating the conformity of social protection programs defined by the government to the realities of the population; Discussion on social protection programs that could benefit women in the informal sector and Propose strategies to ensure social coverage for all women in Cameroon by 2030.
Highlighting the issues that women face in leadership in position in Cameroon, Emily Miki said: “We need women who can fight for women’s rights and not hand clappers that can be turned around to suit what is needed at the moment. We need to get women who can speak about the issues that have to women fully.”
Recommending policies, she noted that “We need a task force that exists between the media, government civil society organizations to bring all these stakeholders together…”
“The Cameroon government should involve the community in the project implementation phase as in the project development phase, communities were not involved. Community involvement is key; developing the implementation plan should include women and vulnerable groups amongst others.”
When asked on recommendations for a successful implementation of social protection, Ms Fri Asanga said: “Unless there is the concerted effort put in place by competent ministries we will not have social protection implementation in Cameroon that will yield results.”
“We cannot talk about social protection without addressing the barrier of women to access the labour market. Most women in the informal sector are not educated enough to understand the need or the advantage for them to move to the formal sector.”
Fri Asanga added that: “there is need for research; reliable and accurate data to inform policy decisions. There is a need to consolidate government actions when it comes to the aspect of social protection. There is a need to build the right partnerships with CSOs, NGOs and development partners and there is a need for a reform of the National Social Insurance Fund in Cameroon to guarantee social protection, especially for women.”