Panel Discussion on the 2018 International Women’s Day in Cameroon

UNIC Yaounde on behalf of the United Nations System in Cameroon organized a panel discussion on “Intensify the fight against discrimination on women: Strengthen partnership to speed up sustainable development” on Tuesday 6 February 2018 at the UNIC Conference Room. This talk had as main objective, the exchange of information with university students in development studies, and civil societies on concrete actions carried out by the UN system in Cameroon, towards empowering women and girls. 

Adama Moussa, Resident Representative of UNWOMEN emphasized the normative framework for the protection of women’s right, stating the four resolutions adopted by the UN to protect women such as: Violence against women, peace and security, Economic autonomy and political participation. Mr. Adama further harps on the fact that women representation should be specific, temporal and corrective in government positions and elections in order to attain UN’s gender parity policy. “The aim now is to have 30% of women integrated in each sector in Cameroon for operation gender 50/50 is a gradual process” he said. He insisted that the economic autonomy of women can be achieved only by promoting women to become economically and giving them equal opportunities and access to land and production.

Daniela Luciana, Head of Child Protection at UNICEF focusing on early marriages and other forms of traditional constraints on women, states that UNICEF mobilizes tools not only to work with the community on violence against women, but also to challenge norms and taboos against certain forms of violence practiced in the society. The more girls are educated, the less child marriage is experienced. Thus, UNICEF is working to improve girls’ education, so that they do not drop from school after primary education to get marry. She further added that according to the 2011 survey, statistics revealed that 50% of girls got married before the age of 18 in the Eastern and Adamawa regions, and 1 out of 3 at the national level and 80% of women and girls have been victims of sexual violence in which most cases happen at home and the perpetrators are always very close people that the victims know.

Abdoulaye Balde; Representative and Country Director of WFP, highlighted actions taken by WFP to economically empower the rural women; who are the backbone of food production, with skills to transform local produce into semi-finished or finished product.  Queuing with UNICEF’s policy of sending girls to school, Mr. Baldé added that WFP provides food to students in some areas of the northern part of Cameroon as an incentive for them to remain in school.

UNIC’s Jean Njita; who moderated the talks, called on participants to be ambassadors of change.  Quoting Memory Banda the 18-year-old Malawian, on child marriage, Mr. Njita stated that “Marriage is often the end for girls like me. But if our leaders invest in us and give us the chance to be educated, we will become women who create a better society for everyone.”

During the question and answer session, questions were asked such as:

  • With legal framework stated by UNWOMEN put in place in Cameroon, is there hope for women in Cameroon?
  • What actions have been taken by UNWomen against the rape cases by UN peacekeepers in the Central African Republic?
  • What is UNICEF doing to prevent early marriages?
  • Why are men the ones talking on women’s day etc.,

UNIC Yaounde provided information kits to the over 40 participants at the event containing: the UNSG’s message on IWD2018, brief history of the IWD, Africa Renewal on keeping girls in school, notebooks, etc… UNIC equally mobilized journalist who covered the panel discussions organized at UNIC conference room. Media organs represented included; Ariane TV, CRTV, Equinoxe Television, Cameroon Tribune, Vision4 Television, Le Messager etc…