Monday, March 11, 2013
COL CLP International Women’s Day Outreach In Cameroon
GENDER AGENDA GAINS MOMENTUM
Cameroon Link added a CLP touch to the global march for A Life Free From Violence Against Women and Girls during the International Day of Women celebrated on March 8 in Bonaberi-Douala. This is the global day to celebrate the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. Women's rights have improved a lot over the last decades, with more women accessing equitable opportunities, resources and life prospects but this is not enough as yet many women particularly in Cameroon are still not able to shape their own lives and contribute to the development of their families and communities as they would like. With the community of learning (CLP) initiative supported by the Commonwealth of Learning, a one-day workshop was organized in Bonaberi-Douala to highlight progress realized through advocacy, information, education and communication actions with community radio stations in Cameroon. During the presentations and exchange of views, participants agreed that there are still immense disparities that exist between males and females; hence the urgency to accelerate efforts to empower women and girls to fully participate in the economic and social development of their communities. This year’s IWD theme “elimination of all forms of violence against women and the girl child” very appropriately seeked to raise awareness on the need to provide women with the opportunity to participate fully in society, on equal terms with their male counterparts. Cameroon Link’s mandate is to protect, promote and support optimal infant and young child nutrition within the clp partnership agreement with the Commonwealth of Learing. The women’s march this year was a collective global effort to respond to the theme of the United Nations focused on the advances States have made in the elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls. To this end we advocated that Cameroon needs to respond, protect, and prevent violence against women and girls in all their diversity. The women from all walks of life gathered in various regional headquarters of Cameroon as bearers of various affirmations on development, peace, political and gender equality, employment, education access and human rights as they passed along their capital cities. One of the partnership initiative areas is on promoting Maternity Protection and this fits with this year’s IWD theme on gender equity and employment. This gives us an opportunity to bring to the fore the importance of putting into effect strong maternity protection in the workplace in order to safeguard women's employment and income security during and after maternity. Maternity protection is also essential for ensuring women's access to equality of opportunity and treatment in the workplace, and progress towards Millennium Development Goal 3: promoting gender equality and women's empowerment. Furthermore, maternity protection is important in promoting the health of the mother and the child through breastfeeding; thus contributing to the achievement of Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5, which seek to the reduce child mortality and promote improvement to the health of mothers. Strengthening maternity protection and extending it to all women in all types of economic activity is an important goal, as well as ensuring it is implemented as extensively as possible. Maternity protection has two aims: •to preserve the health of the mother and her newborn; •to provide a measure of job and income security (protection from dismissal and discrimination, the right to resume work after leave, and maintenance of wages and incomes during maternity) The most recent standard available for the protection of working women is the Maternity Protection Convention No. 183 (2000) and Maternity Protection Recommendation No. 191 (2000). Convention No. 183 broadens the scope of coverage to include all employed women, including those women employed in so‐called atypical forms of employment, which is, women who work on fixed term contracts; casual, contract, seasonal and part‐time workers, home workers, piece workers, temporary agency workers; unorganized and informal employment, who often receive no protection, as well as extending to them entitlement to 14 weeks of leave. This wider scope of Convention No. 183 is of critical importance in ensuring the health and well‐being of greater numbers of women workers and their children worldwide. Cameroon Link made a call for the government to: 1.Take concrete steps to end impunity! 2.Fund Gender Equality and Human Rights initiatives! 3.And Protect Women Human Right Defenders! More than 30 organizations, many of whom are partners of the Cameroon Link umbrella network, the Federation of Cameroon Breastfeeding Promotion Associations (FECABPA) and the Camerooon Association of Broadcasters (CAB) responded by demanding that the government should rise to the challenge. Women’s Development Group leaders who participated in the community of learning one day workshop on International Women’s Day concluded that, it was a day of challenges, often rolled into one. In realising how far we have come towards ensuring genuine equality of opportunity for women as for men, it becomes clear how far we still have to go. Statistics reported Cameron as one of the countries in which 10% percent of women experienced sexual violence – a figure which is too high. There parts where no less than 33% percent have been confronted and affronted with such crime. Participants observed that many children are out of primary school, living below the poverty line, suffering from HIV and the disenfranchised persons are women Cameroon’s current and unprecedented economic growth is strong, but it is flawed because the riches are not shared, and it is not environmentally sustainable. Real growth has to be for women as much as for men, for younger people as for older, for rural communities as much as urban. And we know that economic growth alone does not suffice to create gender equality. It requires political and practical will to drive the gender agenda forward.