By Boris Esono Nwenfor (Cameroon)
The 34th edition of the international women’s day has been commemorated in Buea, chief town of the South West Region, despite calls from separatist fighters for the population to boycott the event. Hundreds of women across various occupational field turned out at mass March 8, at the Buea independence square to join their counterparts across the country and beyond in celebrating the day.
The women matched with placards bearing various messages such as; an end to the presence wave of violence in the two English speaking regions, let us all join the crusade against gender inequality, let us all join in the crusade for peace and peace is priceless. They also matched with peace plants, calling for peace.
The theme for this year in Cameroon cantered on “crusade against gender inequalities: committing to the new impetus”.
Speaking during the event, the Regional Delegate of Women’s Empowerment and the Family, Moffah Juditha Lyengu Luma, said there is a need for women’s rights, which is a human right to be respected and also to ways of getting everyone onboard for the crusade for the improvement of the status of women.
Talking on the theme, she said “it is reminding us that the campaign against gender inequality is on-going and should take the form of a vigorous movement involving stakeholders at every level. There is a need to work hard to close the gender gap that exist and to stamp out structural and cultural discrimination that exits on women which inhibits them from their full potentials”. “Women above all must spearhead peace and understanding in their communities. Peace is a priceless gift and a woman is a peace maker. I want to appreciate all those interceding for peace to return in the country. Prayers, justice and balance of power may just be the magic solution to the socio-political crisis rocking the South West and North West Regions” she added.
Madam Moffah Juditha further urged women to be determined to work hard, avoiding backstabbing, hate speeches, gossiping and jealousy so that they too can be involved in the decision making process in order to push forward the emergence agenda.
The women’s day celebration comes at a time when the calls for boycott of major events and celebrations across the South West and North West Regions have taken sway. Women in the two regions have been joining their voices to others in calling for an end to the violence and for peace to return in the two English speaking regions that have been witnessing violence for more than two years now.
The separatist were not the only ones who were calling for the celebration to be boycotted as even politicians were demanding so. Kah Walla, civil society activist and leader of Cameroon People’s Party (CPP) had called on women to wear black on the day and to boycott the celebration. She said it was a move to protest against the regime in place which has refused to solve the Anglophone crisis that has claimed many lives including women. “Women in Cameroon should Boycott all official gatherings for the Celebration of women’s day this year” Edith Kah Walla said.
According to a report by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, insecurity and violence have forced more than 400,000 people to flee their homes and continue to have serious consequences on livelihoods and living conditions. Around 351,000 IDPs and 372,000 people in the host community need water, sanitation and hygiene services.
Many of the conflict-hit population are suffering severe emotional stress. About 3,700 unaccompanied or separated children need urgent assistance and psycho-social care.
As it is a tradition each year by the Regional Delegation for Women’s Empowerment and the Family, veteran CRTV journalist Anne Munjong was proclaim 2019 woman of the year. Instituted in 2013, the award seeks to acknowledge women who have contributed in the promotion of the woman and the fight against gender discrimination. This year’s award was sponsored by all the women Regional Delegates for the SWR.
Speaking to Pan African Visions, Madam Munjong said she was very grateful for the fact that her work on the fight against gender inequalities against women has been acknowledged. She however called on other women to follow in her example in seeking ways to end gender disparities that exist between men and women.
In 1910 in Copenhagen, Denmark, the 8th of March was chosen as the day to advance voting rights and institute equal remuneration for both male and female workers. It was finally instituted by the UN General Assembly in 1977 and Cameroon commemorated the women’s day celebration for the first time in 1985.
Gender based discrimination has a negative impact on peace, social justice and generally retards the development of any nation. If Cameroon must emerged by 2035 and if the 2030 agenda of the sustainable development goals notably goal number 5, which is that of ensuring gender equality and women’s empowerment, efforts must be doubled and concrete action taken by all stakeholders, religious, traditional, civil society and the government to improve on the status of as many women as possible.