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Women’s Participation In Politics Is Low – NCHRF Chair 

By Edith Wirdze

The Chairperson of the National Commission on Human Rights and Freedoms, NCHRF, Dr. Divine Chemuta Banda, has stated that the participation of women in the political, economic and social development in Cameroon is low.

He was speaking in a conference to mark the commemoration of the 35th edition of the International Day of African Women on July 31. The conference took place at the Institute of International Relations, IRIC, Yaounde.

Dr. Chemuta stated that, in Cameroon, out of 48 Ministers, 42 are men while only six are women. Following his statistics, out of 160 MPs, 135 are men and 25 are women; of 327 Mayors, 305 are men and 22 are women, of 8661 Municipal Councillors, 7350 are men and 1302 are women; of 12 ELECAM members, 9 are men and 3 are women, and out of 149 Divisional Officers, 147 are men are two are women.

Dr. Chemuta remarked that women’s representation in the political development of Cameroon is relatively low, considering that women constitute the greater part of the population. It is in this perspective that the NCHRF Chair said women should work hard to gain their rights and be more representative. He called on women to support women who stand for elections as a means to improve on women’s representation. To him, women play a vital role in societal development. Thus, he said, there is the necessity to ensure that the rights of women become a reality in Cameroon.

Dr. Chemuta urged participants to ensure that the Maputo Protocol, which highlights on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women, is implemented. To achieve this, he said, sensitisation of both women and men on women’s rights is required, he said.
Elaborating on the plight of the woman, the Head of the Promotion and Protection Division of Human Rights in NCHRF, Eva Etongue Mayer, analysed CEDAW articles, which give equal rights to women in the participation in political, economic and social affairs.

A Jurist, Solange-Aimee Ondobo, analysed the 32 articles of the African Charter on Human and People Rights and the Maputo Protocol. Some of the topics she focused on include; the education of the girl child, violence against women, the rights of a woman in relation to marriages and divorces as well as widow’s rights and rights of handicapped people. 

A Law expert, Dr. Justine Diffo Tchunkam, who discussed on the implementation of CEDEF and the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights in Cameroon, regretted that although Cameroon ratified the Maputo Protocol in May 2009, much has to be done in regards to the respect of women’s rights.

Since July 31, 1974, African women have celebrated the International Day of the African Woman as a sign of the determination to fight against all forms of injustice, discrimination and other forms of violence and marginalisation of which they are victims. The objective is to provide effective participation of women in the political, economic and social development in African countries. It was on July 31, 1962, in Dar es Salaam-Tanzania that women of all the regions of Africa gathered to create the first organisation; "The Conference of African Women".

Twelve years later, , they created a more representative organisation; "The Pan African Organisation for Women, PAWO," in Senegal. Following the adoption on June 27, 1981, in Kenya, of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights as a regional African instrument in the domain of human rights and considering the strong fight put up by African women for more equality, respect and dignity, the Heads of State of the African Union, AU, adopted the Maputo Protocol in Mozambique on July 11, 2003, to the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights on the rights of women.

The Protocol is supplementary to the African Charter, the UN Convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women adopted in December 18, 1979, which is in force since September 1981.

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