By Comfort Mussa
Yaounde, Cameroon – As part of week long activities to mark IWD 2014, the British High Commission in Yaounde organized a roundtable discussion on the priorities for combating violence against women in Cameroon – chaired by the Chargé D’Affaires, Mrs. Allison Marriott.
Speaking on behalf of the Minister of Women’s Empowerment &the Family, Dr/Mrs Margaret Niger–Thomas said, during IWD commemorations, the theme on violence against women and girls has featured three times within the past 7 years i.e in 2007, 2009 and 2013. This she said is to ‘ emphasize the severity and urgency in the search for sustainable solutions”
Mrs Allison Marriott said the British High Commission in Cameroon acknowledged the severity and urgency to find sustainable solutions to issues affecting women like violence against women and girls. She underscored that the British High Commission in Cameroon is ready to collaborate with other stakeholders in Cameroon for joint action.
The roundtable discussions centered on the issues that face Cameroon in combating violence against women. Participants at the roundtable discussions were drawn from the Diplomatic Community ,women’s associations, NGOs, CSOs and the media.
Issues facing Cameroon in combating violence against women
Highlighting some of the issues facing Cameroon in combating violence against women, the participants,
noted that a key factor is, Ignorance of women’s rights by both women themselves and their male counterparts. This is aggravated by the rate of illiteracy and socio-cultural norms that persistently relegate woman to a state of vulnerability
Other points discussed by the participants include lack of shelters for victims of violence, deep seated beliefs of gender inequality in our society and low access to resources and their control by women.
At the close of the day participants at the roundtable discussions were unanimous that to combat violence against women in Cameroon amongst other actions, social services must be reinforced and made accessible to all women and victims of violence.Critically needed are increased budgetary resources for the social service, law enforcement and judiciary infrastructure to respond to the urgency of the prevailing situation.
Another priority action noted is the continuous education and awareness in the area of women’s rights at all levels of the society considering the fact that neither women nor men are a homogenous group of people.
It was also noted that the increase number of women in parliament constitutes a viable force in stopping VAW. Hence capacities of women in parliament need to be built to get involved in stopping violence against women.
The event held at the residence of the British High Commissioner to Cameroon on the 6th of March 2014