Women Leaders in Cameroon Unite to Increase Women’s Representation…

volunteer_with_asana06

Guest speakers comment on women’s political participation during televised panel.

Yaoundé, Cameroon – In Cameroon, women comprise approximately 52 percent of the population yet hold only 14 percent of the seats in parliament and only six percent of mayoral posts. In an effort to increase women’s participation in politics, the Women’s Democracy Network (WDN) and Cameroon O’Bosso (CÔB), a civil society organization founded by Kah Walla, hosted a seminar launching a nation-wide effort to increase the number of women participating in Cameroon’s the 2013 municipal and legislative elections.

The four-day seminar was attended by more than 100 women from political parties, civil society groups and journalists all across Cameroon. The participants will work alongside CÔB with the goal of reaching 10,000 across the country and encourage them to become involved in the 2013 elections. The campaign offers women four different avenues for activism: As voters, candidates, campaign staff or domestic polling observers. The event was covered by three television networks and online media outlets.

To open the seminar, a panel provided a historical perspective of women’s political participation in Cameroon and presented the challenges women have faced and the successes they have achieved. Panelist included Edith Mongue, founder of Together For Parity, a coalition of civil society organizations that actively engage the government for better representation of women in public decision making bodies; Patricia Ndam Njoya, a member of parliament from the Cameroon Democratic Union; and Walla, who was a Cameroon People’s Party’s candidate for president in the 2011 election.

Following the initial panel, participants began looking at ways to increase women’s participation. Using CÔB’s manual, Women and Electoral Participation in Cameroon: 2013 Municipal and Legislative Elections, the women looked at different ways women can participate in the electoral process, discussed the political stakes for women in the 2013 elections, the requirements for registration and voting, the requirements to be a polling agent or observer, how to run a successful campaign, and the role of elected officials. In addition, the women used the manual’s how to guide to review voter registration forms, candidacy declaration forms and templates for candidate’s campaign organization such as organizing a campaign team and budgets.

Working Groups 1
Participants develop action plans to train women in their region.

At the conclusion of the seminar, one of the participants noted, “Women are rising and are ready to act in politics because of the wonderful training with Cameroon O’Bosso that reawaked the spirit that was sleeping in us and the echoes of the wave will be heard soon.”

The seminar was the latest in a series of WDN events in Cameroon designed to increase women’s political participation. WDN members launched the Cameroon Country Chapter in April 2012 in an effort to bring women together from different sectors and political affiliations to work together to increase women’s public participation, especially their representation in political office. The Chapter has since conducted Women’s Leadership Schools throughout the country to train women on conflict management, delegation and team building.