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Parties With Proportionate Number Of Women Shall Attract Female Votes – Women 

Interviewed By Francis Tim Mbom

CameroonPostline.com — The Divisional Delegate of the Ministry of Women’s Empowerment and the Family for Fako, Mrs. Fonkwe nee Tamonkeng Prudentia, has said her Delegation has been doing much to sensitise the women get ready for the registration exercise as well partake actively in politics. Mrs. Fonkwe talked to The Post on their drive to politically empower the woman and more. Read on.

The Post: Could we know from you how the Delegation of Women Empowerment and the Family of Fako has been trying to encourage those women vying for political office or to take up leadership positions?

Mrs. Forkwe: There is nothing that we can do other than raising awareness and sensitising the women in particular and the public as a whole on the need for the women to increase their participation in politics and leadership in general. We work in partnership with NGOs.

We often invite them whenever the women are coming to the Delegation for one reason or the other, we invite them to come and give them lectures. There is this NGO called CAJAD that we are working with very closely now and they are actually committed on seeing the number of women in politics increase, especially in Fako. In fact, they are sponsoring them. That’s not actually removing cash to give them.

They are sensitising them and raising their awareness as well as giving them documentations. They have promised that the women who will vie for positions will be given more assistance than to help them produce their campaign materials and lots more. They will actually coach them along. So we are not only sensitising the women, we are equally sensitising the public, especially the political stakeholders.

What we are telling them now is that the women will vote for the parties in which the numbers of female candidates are more. Our concern is that women should not be so tied down to party discipline. So we are in forming party leaders to make sure they include as many women as possible on their list else the women will not vote for them.

Have you already contacted some political party leaders on this?

That’s not my job. I am not a political activist, I am just an administrator. My role is to sensitise the women, the public and end at that level.

Hon. Rachel Lyonga says that for those who are vying for political office, they need to sensitise their fellow women to register on the electoral rolls; that it is the key. What is your take on this?

Of course! That’s why we are sensitising them to go back to their constituencies early enough or to the areas where they think they can have greater influence and encourage the women as much as possible to register. Our Ministry is one that has a lot of celebratory activities in a year so we always take the advantage of these commemorative activities to pass across the message.

What do you think can practically be done to effectively encourage women in politics?

You know politics is not something that you can actually force someone to do if he or she does not have the natural tendencies or the motivation or inspiration to do it. There are a lot of factors that can encourage people to do politics. One of them is having a role model.

Then, the exposure and the experience too, count. A child who is brought up in a democratic home will want to participate in public debates. But in a patriarchal society like ours where it is believed that the woman should not be heard, the woman has no opinion to express, especially in public, most of them just shy away.

So most of them are so bound by culture that they feel going out to the public is tantamount to breaking bounds. And so, some men have taken this as an advantage to try to smear any woman who ventures out to the public, which is not Ok. Since most women fear being ridiculed in public, they tend to shy away.

Sometimes, even at the level of the family, women are not encouraged. But I will tell you that the women who have broken these grounds have certainly had something to write home about. We in Fako, are especially blessed that out of four Parliamentarians, two are women. And you will not tell me that the women are performing less than the men. By our evaluation, the women MPs in Fako have performed better than the men.

And the case of Limbe, I will say is one of those constituencies where the women have always been given an equal opportunity like the men. We have had men as mayors as well as the women. We have had a woman as Parliamentarian here for the past 30 years. We have also had a woman as a Mayor in Tiko.

So Fako is a place where we have always had women. It is not like other places where the women have still not been able to.  But we are saying that it is still not enough. We are encouraging them to do more especially with this high level of sensitisation now and the fact that more women are acquiring university education just as the men, there is no reason for them to stay behind any longer.

Could you say Limbe’s long unbroken record of having female MPS for over 30 years can be an influence to other female aspirants elsewhere?

Yes, it can be. I don’t think anybody will dispute the fact that women form the majority in Cameroon. They are slightly above 50 percent of the population and he who talks of elections in democracy should take into consideration the number of the voters. By that simple token of the numbers, a woman vying for any position should be sure to win.

But, unfortunately, it is not like that. We are not simply saying that the women should go out and vote for a woman because she is a woman. We are saying that if an equal opportunity is given to the men and the women and a man is better, you vote for the man if the man can bring more development to the people.

But we should not just vote for the man when the women have not been given an equal opportunity to present something too. Let us compare the two and we see who has something better to offer to the society before we vote. After all, our main interest should be the development of the society and not gender.

What message do you have for the women as biometric registration is about to begin?

We think it is a very encouraging thing because this time around nobody will cry foul. You can only cry foul if you did not register and if you did not register, you should not blame anybody for that. I am encouraging the women to go out themselves, stand there and make sure they are registered. Let them not send their ID cards through some other person to go and register for them because with the biometric registration, everyone has to be physically present and not ID cards without the owners.

And those of them who are not versed with the computer should go along with someone whose is computer literate to make sure they are registered. We are also telling the women, especially those who are vying that they should have what it takes to belong to a political party. It is not just putting on the party fabric that makes you a party member. They should try to abide by the rules of the party; try to understand the party’s manifesto.

They should know that when you don’t have a simple party card and you profess to be a party member and happen to be contesting with another member who has one, at the last minute, that opponent can use the simple party card point to knock you out. This is because we have discovered that there are many women who do not have their party cards. So how can they vie for positions when they have not met all the conditions in their different parties?

First published in The Post print edition No 01368

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