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IWD in Cameroon: Do Ruling Patriarchs Understand What Women Want?

A Rural Women Leader recognized for her outstanding community service to empower women

Women’s Day greetings: “Woman eeeeh!”

Response: “eeeeh!”

Once again, it’s 8th Mar - a significant and colourful season for women [and girls] in my community. A day where ruling patriarchs talk about equality, in a sarcastic manner. And then pretend to listen to women’s concern

“Empower Rural Women – End Hunger and Poverty”. The first time a UN International Women’s Day (IWD) theme is devoted to the rural women [and girls]. A community which make up one quarter of the global population and the key producer of food and other agrarian produce. (UN SG’s 2012 Message on International Women’s Day).

But what does this mean to the people at the grassroots? Has the gender stereotypes changed? Maybe and maybe not. This depends on individual experience.

However, I remembered when I was young, each IWD, I heard elders (men especially) say – this is the day that men stay at home,take care of the children, cook and serve their wife (and family).While she go wild; drink to drunk, make loud noise, spent lavishly and return home late at night.

And if it were possible men would put to birth, breastfeed the child [ren] while the woman drinks palm-wine with friends and celebrate the baby’s ‘born-house’ or ‘baby-birth party’.

Unfortunately, this ancient concept of women’s day is still supported by many people (including the younger generation) till date.

“Today is women’s day. My wife asked me to babysit and do the household chores” said one man to his friends in the crowd. “Every Mar 8th, my wife becomes the husband and I became the wife” – he added

In order word, a man take up the traditional social role of the woman and vice versa.That is women become the head and men the subservient.

My question therefore is: do these role change stop men from perpetuated violence on women? Or have this brought an end to all forms of discriminatory laws and practices that affect women? Of course No!

And as always patriarchy remains the one in control. For the day dedicated to women in recognition of their accomplishments and achievements has been converted into a “women’s birthday” – a day when women are born as men.

The truth is that the concept of women’s day in Cameroon is misrepresented and poorly articulated. We need to correct and orientate the people’s (men old or young) mind to understand why Cameroonian women jubilate on this day. For it isn’t a day women go wild or deliberately drink to drunk.It is a day to we look back on the past struggles and achievements, and most importantly looking ahead on opportunities to project the untapped potential of women and girls in our society.

IWD is all about celebrating women's achievements and accomplishments


Stella Paul's picture

Real change

Dear Zioh

The most popular perception about women who don't leave home to work is that they are idle, that they 'sit at home doing nothing'. Even those who do recognize that women do 'work' within the house, still don't see this work as a money earner. The day her contribution - and I mean both manual and financial - to the home and the family is recognized and the day the is seen as an equal contributor to the making and maintenance of the family, she will not be desperate to go out for a day and enjoy a man's life, as you rightly point out. And that would be the day when we can say, change has come.
Lets hope that day is going to be here for us all.

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

Dear Zonezi,
You have nicely highlighted the pros and cons of the celebrations at Cameroon. The men should instead understand on this day that how difficult is it for women to manage things both at home and outside, instead of just taking the responsibility on a single day, men should help them at all possible times and encourage their contribution. There is a dire need for our counterparts to respect and appreciate our multi-dimensional role.


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