We reached out to 385 women and girls with various activities and training in 10 communities of North West Cameroon.
We are excited and grateful because with the gracious support of our new partner, the Lush Charitable Giving Program, we have kick started a new project. We will train in one year, 100 rural women on organic farming growing, and use of vegetal proteins for food security and the protection of the environment.
We are mobilizing the groups working on the project and it will be officially launched early August.
Our objectives for the month of July were to start training our groups of women and girls under the Spark USA sponsored project on how to produce body lotion, closely monitor the basic bookkeeping skills of the groups under this project, and discuss issues on gender equality and women/girls rights.
Production of body lotion
112 women and girls benefited from this training, the rest of the women/girls will be trained next month.
All the groups we have trained have started to market and generate some income from the production of powder soap and table mats with recycled paper beads. We are supporting them in monitoring their sales and all the groups are making a good effort to keep their financial accounts in order.
Women’s rights and gender equality
Gender based violence and women’s rights are serious causes for concern in rural communities of North West Cameroon following our discussions with the women and girls. Many of them are tortured physically and psychologically due to poverty and the lack of financial independence.
The major disturbing issues we recorded are:
- There is a discriminatory attitude of some fathers and men in formal child education. They still prefer to educate boys. According to these fathers, girls are commodities that they can enrich themselves with, by sending to early marriages and collecting the bride price. Many men and even women in villages also feel that girls should not go further into education. They think that men will be afraid to marry them if they are well educated.
- There is a refusal of men to empower women economically. They are afraid to lose their wives’ respect if the women are economically empowered. Besides, they are afraid of the financial competition with women. They are also afraid of the autonomy the women have when they are economically empowered, because they are no longer dependent of them for their basic needs, they are no longer subjects to their domination.
- The suppression of women’s rights to speak in the midst of men, or during public events, under the pretense that nothing good comes from women, they are inferior human beings.
- There is an abandonment of widows and their children in rural communities. Women do not have a right to succeed the property of their husband in the rural communities we work with. The male family members’ successors of the properties of their deceased husbands do not assist them financially. The latter aggravates issues by selling or depriving them of the assets left by their deceased husbands.
- Men shirk off their responsibilities after donating a piece of land to their wives for cultivation. They assume that the women will farm the land to take care of the family needs.
Women rights and gender based violence are sensitive topics. We face some challenges in discussing it. Many women and girls who are members of the African Youth Alliance are victims of gender based violence. They are afraid to discuss and find it difficult to share their experiences. We are working on the best ways to help the women share their difficulties and how can best help them.
We would like to organize some workshops for women and girls in rural communities on women’s rights and we are looking for funds for the activity. We would also like to organize some mobile clinics in villages by using arts/comedy as a therapy to address the problems of gender based violence and help the women face the difficulties they go through with self-care tips.
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