Democracy and Empowerment of Women (DEW)

Duration of the project: 2003 – 2017

Location: North-West Region of Cameroon

Collaborators: Bread for the world (Germany),  Church Center Mankon of the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon (PCC),  Decade Motivation Programme (DEMOPRO)

Project description:
Multi party politics is practiced in Cameroon since 1992, with over 150 legalized political parties. Over the years, poorly conducted elections, political maneuvers and intrigues have reduced the opposition to a mere symbolic representation with an active quasi monolithic system in place. The President is in power since 1982 and was re-elected in October 2011 is serving another term of seven years mandate.

The civil society is weak and has only low potential for a better participation in decision making.
Traditional institutions and cultural practices are highly respected in the Region, more than in any other place in the country. The North-West-Region is strongly influenced by a patriarchal system. In the villages the members of the traditional councils are most often only men, led by a male ruler. They see that traditions are respected. Some of these traditions seriously violate human rights, especially towards women.


There are several challenges that COMINSUD intends to work on with this project:

Decentralization and Local Governance
Significant number of underprivileged person is neglected by the social support systems in the society, particularly within the systems of the Local Councils and concerned government local support services. They are abandoned so their families who themselves have little or no means to survive on.
Even though local councils have a duty to promote the economic, cultural and social welfare of the population, most councils do not adequately respond to these needs, while at the same time the population is not empowered enough to demand their rights and quality services.

Human Rights
Though there have been several efforts to promote human rights information, a constructive and persistent method of communicating the situation and addressing violations is absent.
Significant instances of violations occur and each makes news for the moment and is forgotten in a short while. Victims are usually too weak to defend their rights, several violations go unpunished, repeated acts of violations for which redress is not carried out become the new way of life. Consequently, the future and lives of several women, male and female teenagers and children destroyed

With the advent of multi party politics, there has been a declining culture of civic participation in and for public interest, as often, politicians use money to influence local opinion. Besides, campaigning, voting and the political outcomes are largely the result of fraud and tele-guided process, making young people to develop apathy for elections as a veritable means for change. They shun away from registering on the electoral list, while each youth should do so soon they turn 20 years. Many people have resigned in term of their political choices and have hardly any political knowledge. The desolate political situation is reflected through the lowest level of the villages.

The challenges of the spread of HIV remain very strong in Cameroon. From the 0.5% percentage rate observed in 1990, HIV infected rose significantly over the years and reached a peak in 2003 with 5.3% prevalence rate and the North-West was the most affected Region with 8.7 % prevalence rate. In 2011, the National prevalence rate was estimated at 4.3% and the North West was the third most affected Region with a 6.3% prevalence rate.

Gender inclusion
The gender phenomenon remains, where in entrenched male domination in all aspects of life (social, economic, political, cultural) are still largely visible and accepted. While significant sensitization has been created and there is openness with the leadership of most communities for a change in the status quo, a mind shift has not yet been achieved from the conservative populace that constitute majority of the population. Unemployment and underemployment possesses huge challenge especially for the male folk. Modern Information and Communication Technologies risk of a more deviant society (alcoholism and a television culture that promotes, idleness, dream culture, pornography, scamming).

Domestic violence
Domestic violence manifested largely through violence against women remains a serious challenge in communities as there is still huge silence on issues of domestic violence and violence against women as many heinous and vicious acts (rape and sexual harassment, assault, widow maltreatment, early and forced marriages) go on unreported and unaddressed. Women in rural areas of the North West Region are subject to various forms of violence resulting from harmful traditional practices, cultural beliefs and attitudes that give women lower status in the family and community.