COMMITMENT TO GENDER EQUITY AND WOMEN EMPOWERMENT

Government efforts in the area of education as a tool for women empowerment and gender equity tie in well with the U.N. assertion that “Education is one of the most important means of empowering women with the knowledge, skills and self-confidence necessary to participate fully in the development process.”

In the same vein, many women have been integrated into the political life of the country. More women now serve as members of parliament, mayors, municipal counselors and top party militants of the various parties that have been authorized to operate in the country. There is an increased number of women journalists in the country today, and women-related programs are very much encouraged in the public and private media. The constitution of the Republic of Cameroon recognizes the human rights of women and the U.S. Department of State 1999 Human Rights Report says “Women rights are recognized constitutionally in Cameroon” a point which buttresses this assertion. By enshrining the protection of the rights of women in the constitution, the government of Cameroon is making efforts, at the national level, to check the injustice Cameroonian women have suffered for a long time.
Furthermore, by initiating and encouraging change through the work of national and international NGOs, the government of Cameroon is acknowledging that “change requires policy and program actions that will improve women’s access to secure livelihoods and economic resources, alleviate their extreme responsibilities with regard to housework, remove legal impediments to their participation in public life, and raise social awareness through effective programs of education and mass communication.”
At the international level, Cameroon has always been represented at many international forums that seek to improve the quality of life for women across the globe. Cameroon was represented at the United Nations International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) which ran from 5-13 September 1994 in Cairo, Egypt and at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China; which was held from 4-15 September 1995 where, like most countries, Cameroon reaffirmed its commitment to the “equal rights and inherent dignity of women and men and other purposes and principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights instruments, in particular the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women and the Declaration on the Rights to Development.”
Moreover, by being part of the Beijing Declaration Platform for Action, the government of Cameroon was working to ensure the full implementation of the human rights of women and of the girl child as an inalienable, integral and indivisible part of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Emmanuel Ngota

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