The Women`s Counseling and Information Centre WCIC[), an innovative association that deals with the improvement of women’s human rights and  leadership in preparation for REDD readiness programmes, was heavily involved in the activities of this year’s international women’s day celebration.

This day seeks to recognize and celebrate the achievements of women and call the attention of major stakeholders on areas of concern in the lives of women. The celebration is important In that it gives the woman the opportunity to evaluate her actions and plan for the future. It is a rare chance for her to highlight the need to bridge the gap between her and the man in the social, economic, and political spheres, for women have always played second fiddle. This year`s theme dubbed empowering the rural woman: end hunger and poverty, emphasises the role of the rural woman in nation building.

Women have been recognised as development agents and strategic players in the efforts to alleviate poverty.  They constitute 52% of the active population, and produce the greatest part of all the food consumed in our cities today. Yet they are amongst the poorest in our society.  Women are responsible for ensuring that their families’ basic needs are met.  Their access to financial services, agricultural extension, education, health care and human rights are therefore, key to ensuring food security for all.
In spite of their significant contribution to the development and wellbeing of their communities, women are very often the main victims of violence in domestic and public spheres.  They are equally victims of incest, rape, sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, and are used as aids in their husbands’, brothers’, uncles’ cocoa and coffee farms with very little or no remuneration.  They are sparsely represented in the management of their community forest, and environment, etc. It should be pointed out that a wide gap exists between access and control of land and management of forest resources.  This is largely unfair.

Pursuant to the theme, WCIC led a number of educative programs on radio and television, notably with CRTV radio and television,  STV, Canal 2 , and held two interviews with equinox radio and television,. The interviews and talk shows, were centered on: problems faced by rural women, legal issues that surround their activities such as land ownership, access to finances and education, segregation and gender gabs, the government’s role in the  provision of infrastructure, and other services that are useful to the women.

WCIC also worked in   partnerships with existing social networks in communities, and discussed innovative strategies to uplift the image of the rural woman. The organisation equally attended and contributed in round table conferences organised by MINPROFF

(Ministry of Women’s empowerment and the Family ) and other sister organisations, and played an active part in the take-off of a women`s platform  for parity, which was launched on the 6th of march 2012 with the aim of institutionalising of parity in Cameroon. During all the interventions, the women pointed out that gender equality is not only a basic human right, but its achievement has enormous socio-economic ramifications. Empowering women fuels thriving economies, spurring productivity and growth.
While women celebrate their gains in Cameroon, notably with their somewhat improved status, special attention has to be paid to the security of the woman, especially in the family (protection of her marital home). Efforts equally have to be made to enable her attain leadership in management of issues that concern her livelihood and better prepare for REDD (reducing greenhouse emissions through deforestation and degradation) and its mechanisms.
Such initiatives may include, inter alia, education and training, creating financial institutions that will not require security for loans, providing her with technology and ensuring that she takes part in the development of such technology, improving transport facilities for easy transportation of her produce from farm to market, and protecting her from violence. Most importantly, efforts have to be made to implement regional and international conventions and protocols duly signed and ratified by Cameroon, especially the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights with focus on women’s rights, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). The enforcement of these laws and stipulations of non-discrimination enshrined in the Constitution of Cameroon will serve as further protection for women and young girls, and further the realization of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.

To achieve the above and even more, the Cameroonian Women would rely on the collaboration of major stake holders for advocacy and law reforms, and the media for improved gender- based reporting to sustain the momentum generated by the international women`s day celebration .

We all play important roles in development. Together let us inspire the future by empowering the rural woman to end hunger and poverty.