By Boris Esono Nwenfor
Experts in the domain of women’s rights say women and men need to be educated on what they are supposed to do to overcome the inequalities women face when it comes to their wages. They also called for all to be educated on the different human rights that exist and what should be done.
The experts were speaking during the eighth-panel discussion on the theme: “Assessing Gender Wage Inequality in Cameroon” on June 30, at the Muna Foundation in Yaounde. It was organized by the Nkafu Policy Institute of the Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation under the banner of the Promoting Women’s Economic Rights in Cameroon (WERC Project).
During the session, experts analyzed the gender wage differences by targeting a few significant sectors of activity in Cameroon; Identified the factors that explain wage inequalities between men and women in Cameroon; Assessed the main aspects of gender discrimination in the functioning of the labour market in Cameroon; Examined what the labour code says about the wages paid to women and men in Cameroon and any limits and made actionable recommendations aimed at reducing wage inequalities between men and women in Cameroon.
Alvin Assembe, Expert in Human Rights, Lecturer at the University of Douala said: “The problem of wage inequality is mostly felt in the informal sector. The informal sector needs to be professionalized such that women who occupy a greater part of it should be able to contribute financially to the wellbeing of their homes.”
“Women face difficulties in choosing between domestic work or the labour market. The demand on both sides weighs down on them and they are often blamed for the choices they make. Wage Inequality if not well managed might go to the extent of destabilizing the home,” Zeh Ines Perold, PhD in Development Economics and Econometrics, University of Yaounde 2 said.
“We are more concerned with the inequality of women because of the causes of this inequality. If it is because of the efforts people put in, it is normal that the reward will be different in comparison. If it is because of the circumstances (how the society reacts to that person and factors that do not depend on the individual), how do you prove that women do not have the same capacity as men?”
The issue of wage distribution has always aroused particular interest in public and academic debates. It is at the heart of the development policies of the United Nations and the Conventions of the International Labour Organization (ILO) almost a century ago. Gender inequalities remain a labour market concern in Africa. According to a World Bank study, the employment-to-population ratio of women in sub-Saharan Africa is 25 per cent lower than that of men. In Cameroon, the economic situation and the demographic weight have inevitably led to a de-structuring of the labour market.
Since the 1980s, Cameroon has undergone several transitions in its development that have affected gender wage gaps. The reforms undertaken in the different phases of Cameroon’s development transition have not only affected the structure of the labour market but also affected men and women differently. Wage inequalities disproportionately affect women in a context where gender differences in occupations and industries remain significant.
“From a pedagogic perspective, gender wage inequality is the gap that exists between women and men in salary remuneration. The problem of inequality comes in when payment for work is uneven – Prof Leka Essomba, Sociologist, Head of Sociology Department, University of Yaounde 1 said.
Dr Odette Kibu, Coordinator of the Nkafu Policy Institute, said the implementation of the text is still the main problem. “A lot of women are in the informal sector and we see that is where they experience a lot of inequality when it comes to wages. Women need to be ambitious and go beyond the limits. When society put a barrier let us try to overcome those barriers and reach where we want to be without looking at the barriers,” she said.