Interview – ‘Women Are Impatiently Awaiting New Decisions’

Emilia Nkamchor Nji, Inspector General, Ministry of Women’s Empowerment and the Family, revisits the recent 2015 the UN Commission on the Status of Women in New York, USA and the expectations of Cameroonian women.

Another Opportunity For Women’s Upliftment

The Minister of Women’s Empowerment and the Family, Marie Theacuteregravese Abena Ondoa, was in New York, USA, at the head of Cameroonian delegation participating in the 59th General Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. The delegation was made up, among others, of representatives of the civil society, Women’s Network Groups and Non-Governmental Organisations.

This year’s session, which lasted from March 9-20, 2015, focused on evaluating the Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action, 20 years after the 1995 historic conference in Beijing, China. Minister Abena Ondoa presented the situation of the Cameroonian woman, highlighting the strides made since 1995, as well as lobbied for more UN support for women’s programmes in the country. Above all, the Cameroonian woman is anxiously waiting for the impact of the Commission sitting as they are expected to provide the way forward for the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

What were the stakes of the 59th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of the Woman that held recently in New York?

This year’s session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women held within a well and predefined context of evaluating the progress made some 20 years after the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action was signed. The session reviewed progress on women’s rights over the last 20 years.

It is also held at a time when focus is on the grounds covered in the implementation of the 12 critical strategic domains that were adopted by the over 180 States that participated at the Beijing Conference of 1995. Focus was certainly also on the achievements recorded in the implementation of the eight Millennium Development Goals. There was need for stakeholders to devise modern strategies to combat current challenges in the fight against gender-based violence and address opportunities for achieving equality in the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

What picture did the Minister of Women’s Empowerment and the Family present of the Cameroonian woman today at the session?

The Minister of Women’s Empowerment and the Family, who led a powerful Cameroonian delegation, was government’s mouthpiece at the session and presented Cameroon’s progress in the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and galvanise more UN support. The picture she presented was one of great achievements, but also of the challenges that lie ahead.

The theme of the session centred on the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and therefore fell within the well-defined national objectives of Cameroon’s emergence Vision 2035. Reason why the Minister presented recent statistics on the evolution of women’s empowerment in Cameroon in both the socio-economic, cultural and political domains. For example, the remarkable changes in the National Assembly where women now occupy 31.1 percent of seats and also at the Senate where they make up 20 per cent. This clearly signifies the progress made in getting women involved in politics. Other domains such as education where 94 girls are in primary school compared to every 100 boys, except in the Northern Regions where the number stands at 74 girls for every 100 boys. The figures are not so different in other educational domains.

In health, efforts to curb maternal deaths are being stepped up across the country and more is also being done to educate the masses on archaic cultural beliefs and traditions which hinder women’s emancipation. So, the picture the Minister presented was certainly one of great hope, but she also remembered the difficulties the government and partners are facing in attaining better results. For example, the fight against maternal deaths still remains a cause for concern as in every 100,000 births, Cameroon loses 669 babies, which is far above international standards. Her presentation will therefore take all of these into account.

What could be expected in terms of decisions to uplift the situation of the Cameroonian woman?

The decisions arrived at in New York will affect the Cameroonian woman directly because recommendations are formulated according to the proposals of different delegates. New strategies will also be put in place to overcome identified obstacles in the implementation of the 12 critical areas of concern. It is expected that more UN support would also be provided to Cameroon to enable the Ministry and its partners continue ongoing projects and initiate new programmes.

Women in Cameroon are surely waiting impatiently for the implementation of these new decisions because they know that it will affect their living standards. That is why the Minister headed a joint delegation made up of the civil society, Women’s Network Groups, Non-Governmental Organizations etc, who all represent the Cameroonian woman. We think generally that our country was not the last because in terms of sensitization and awareness-raising, we have done a wonderful job. Almost every Cameroonian woman can attest to the fact that at least one of the areas of concern implemented by the Ministry has affected her life positively.

Source : Cameroon Tribune

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