Particpants at debate on equality in forest sector Photo credit: Leocadia Bongben

Particpants at debate on equality in forest sector
Photo credit: Leocadia Bongben

By Leocadia  Bongben

Claude Abé, Sociologist at the Catholic University of Central Africa has frowned at the Cameroonian laws for being silent on gender issues in the management of natural resources.

Abe was speaking during a scientific debate recently on the importance of equality in the forest and environment sectors organised by the Centre for International Forestry Research, CIFOR to mark the International Women’s Day celebrated on March 8.

Tracing international laws and instruments that regulate natural resources management, he said these place the rights of the woman at the centre.

He stressed that international laws recognise the rights of the woman in the management of natural resources besides the laws on the promotion and eliminate of all forms of discrimination against women.

Though Cameroon adheres to these laws in the forestry and wild life, aquaculture, environment and mining sectors; the legislature is silent on gender or neglects on gender.

Going by him, the Cameroon government hides behind the neutrality subterfuge, such that when it is said ‘everybody’, the gender is not identified even if it is known that there is a social context of inequalities to be resolved.

Tapping from the Tunisian constitution which has instituted the gender aspect, he said Cameroon needs to choose the kind of society it wants; exclusive where women are pushed aside or an inclusive society where the man and the woman work together for the development of the country. He insisted that the government is playing tricks with the law.

Alba Saray Perez Teran Researcher at CIFOR, said, celebrating March 8, it is not enough to have a party or celebration and stressed the need go beyond celebration.

To empower women in the forest and environment sectors CIFOR has offered internship to the two women who emerged winners of competition on the issues of climate change, governance, food security, agroforestry and social economy. The women wrote the best essays to demonstrate the kind of change to initiate, who should be the driver of the change and how should it be done.

Perez Teran maintained that research has indicated that women are more vulnerable to climate change in relation to the activities they carry out. Also, men are gradually taking over the sector of non-timber forest products initially occupied by women because it is becoming more lucrative.

She concluded that the forest law is not gender sensitive, and women form part of the vulnerable persons in the sector.

Christine Abonge of the Faculty of Women and Gender Studies, University of Buea said it is for students to take up post graduate studies in Gender and Forestry or Environment studies to meet the needs in the sector.

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