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Cameroon Elections Catapult Women to Power

Cameroon Elections Catapult Women to Power

Cross-posted from UN Women

In Cameroon, defenders of gender equality and the empowerment of women today have a reason to celebrate. This follows the announcement of the results of the legislative elections held on September 30. The results of the elections have ensured that women now hold 56 of the 180 deputy positions in the National Assembly, making up 31.1 percent of the legislature.

The percentage exceeds the threshold set out in the Beijing Plan of Action. It is even more significant since the numbers have more than doubled. The previous legislature had only 25 women deputies out of 180, a mere 13.8 percent.

The advocacy efforts were already underway some years ago and were further spurred by UN Women’s strategic plan for gender and elections that received national approval on June 12, 2012.

Justine Diffo, National Coordinator of the NGO More Women in Politics (left), joins Arlette Mvondo, National Programme Officer UN Women (centre) and Paul Ngounou, journalist for Cameroon Radio Television (CTRV) (right), in a panel discussion with traditional and religious leaders, UN system partners and representatives of the Cameroon's political parties in September 2013. Photo: UN Women

With the municipal, legislative and Senate elections of 2013 in mind, this important roadmap document set in motion a series of strategic interventions, including advocacy, capacity strengthening and awareness-raising. These were aimed at key constituents in the electoral process, such as Elections Cameroon (ELECAM), the organization in charge of elections, along with the Government, media, traditional and religious leaders, and women candidates. Targeting public opinion, the aim was to bring about a significant and visible increase in the representation and participation of women in decision-making bodies.

“When More Women in Politics was established seven years ago, I would not have believed that such results would be achieved!” says Josephine Odera, Regional Director for UN Women. “I am delighted that the UN Women’s partnership with Cameroonian authorities, women and civil society has not been in vain. The 30 percent threshold is crossed! We can only do better!”

In April 2012, a law was adopted on the Electoral Code of Cameroon. It was amended and supplemented by another law passed in December 2012, as a result of which gender issues became a legal prerequisite in the compilation of all candidate lists for the municipal, legislative, regional and Senate elections.

A UN Women Gender and Elections expert supported the meetings and discussions on ELECAM activity on a regular basis. This involved integrating gender dimension throughout the electoral process, as well as information sharing. During this process, and as an important precedent, the ELECAM electoral board rejected 48 of the 250 candidate lists presented by the 38 political parties, because they did not meet the conditions required by law. Of these 48 candidate lists, 20 were rejected for failing to respect the gender requirement.

While the results are historic, Ms. Odera says the work must continue with a double emphasis. First, it must focus on adopting specific measures to ensure the equal participation of women and men in the electoral process measures at a legal or constitutional basis and not just voluntary. Second, the work must concentrate on strengthening the capacities of elected women representatives so that they can take on any task assigned.

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Photo Credits: UN Women

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51 comments

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3:43PM PST on Nov 6, 2013

Thanks.

8:47AM PST on Nov 4, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

4:19AM PST on Nov 4, 2013

:-)

11:06AM PST on Nov 3, 2013

Great news thanks for sharing!

3:16AM PST on Nov 3, 2013

I am a woman and have worked witth many women all over the worldbut in many cases women get a job because ..they are women not becayuse if their skills .

Affirmative descrimination is also bad because it stop the best person to have the job and in africa this is very frequent

9:04AM PDT on Nov 2, 2013

YOU GO GIRLS!!!

7:24AM PDT on Nov 2, 2013

Get news for women. If it can happen in Cameroon, then it can happen in our livingroom. keep the faith ladies and unite in the fight for more equality

5:40AM PDT on Nov 2, 2013

This is HUGE for them. Equality between men and women has been a long time coming.

10:41PM PDT on Nov 1, 2013

Thank you

2:42PM PDT on Nov 1, 2013

thanks

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