Wednesday, April 23, 2014

International Women of Courage Award 2011- Interview with Henriette Ekwe Ebongo

Henriette Ekwe Ebongo (25 December 1949), winner of the International Women of Courage Award in 2011, is a journalist, founder of the independent newspaper Bebela. She has been an activist during her students years in the movement (UPC and UNEK) for the independence of Cameroon and its freedom from colonial and neocolonial exploitation. She is also the founder of a branch of transparency international in Cameroon. She actually works in her newspaper and is active in many cameroonians private television channels (CANAL2, STV).

Good Evening Henriette, how did you come into the indepence movement in Cameroon ? What motivated you ?
I was a student and the movement was going on. The UPC was the right party to engage in, they were fighting for the right thing, it was the thing to do at the time.

How did you fell being a woman working with all these men of UPC ? Or were there a lot of women ?
There was not a lot of women, but there was also no place for gender differenciation, everyone was needed. With all those men it was quite easy to cooperate, not as the fight itself.

Which kind of difficulties have you faced as a woman in the many years of your carrier as a journalist ?
Oh, it was difficult, people threathen me to death. Some people did not want to work with me. Due to my credibility and place in my field, i could avoid sexual harassment from superiors or indecent propositions. But it was always a fight.

Do you consider yourself (as we do) as one of the feminists model in Cameroon ?
You cannot fake not being aware of the consequences of your own decisions.

What do you think of the daily feminist fights of the women in Cameroon ? Why do you continue or do you think they should continue ?
I think as I said already, cameroonian women do it well, they organise, meet, have actions, now they just need more political engagements and to be well represented by women who have their interest at heart. Why do i continue ? Because you are not well, because in Senegal university fees are 5000f, in Morocco it is free. Because i have to do it, so you can continue after me.

Private question : did you face any kind of pressure from the society ? From your family, your friends, your relatives ?
Yes, i was called «  femme libre » which has a very bad connotation, people waiting things from you, you were not, you disappointing the others, because you made your choices.

Thank you Henriette
Thanks too.

This interview was taken on the 7th of March after a conference organised in Dschang by the Alliance Franco-Camerounaise of Dschang and the minister for the promotion of women and family. The conference was about Women and development.

Himco Flora

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

since 2 days - report of a girl

written by a cameroonian girl

Since 2 days, my life is just dark, sad and i did not wanted to do anything, I was sad, I could not believe in anything anymore. My light, my reason to smile, to believe, to dream was now 3000kms away and I was just crying and thinking of all I have done with that part of my soul. I was down.

But today two things has happened and completely changed my way of seeing things:

- The first thing, I went in internet to look for some scholarship in order to study in the same country as my light. It was hard to find one for me and also, it was really requiring high qualifications. I just realized that I was not so intelligent, I was not so good, I was not enough trained, I had to work hard in order to achieve my ambitions.
I am a university student and I have one catch up exam son Saturday and I am not prepared, even if I am expecting life to be easy and giving me back my light. I then thought: now I have to stop crying and accusing the world. If I want something I will have to work for it. And also nothing is easy, there are always difficult times, I will have to be strong, to stay a strong woman, the one I am, to support, never falling down, never giving up.

- The second thing is related to my neighbor. My neighbor is a violent, handsome, rude boy. He is an idiot, stupid coward. He is registered at the university but not studying. His only power is the one he has on many women. Women that he usually destroys or abuses, and they always let him do. He takes their money, fools his parent that he is working but he does not, takes the money of his parent to submit to some great college where he is supposed to have passed the admission but actually could not.
There are a lot of girls who visit him, paying everything for him, his room, food, fees and he is not even nice with them and beats them.
Today I could take part to one of those fights in the room. From my room, I can hear everything that is happening in his room. Actually it was at usual for a strange reason. This time it was a phone. The girl did not want him to open her phone and read her messages; he took it by force from her. She asks it back and said it is her phone and he had to give it back. He refused; asking her to sit down. She then threatens him to break everything in the house if he does not give the phone back, she took something from the kitchens ( do not know exactly what, I think a knife but he took it from her and savagely beat her, she shouted and cry. I was already annoyed and offended so I got out of my house and knocked at his. He did not open. He was insulting so I started telling him what a miserable guy he was, beating a woman. He got out and told me to go, I said he should let her go first but he did not and menaced me, I then insulted him and he beat me, people tried to stop him. I was continuing to say what a miserable guy he is.

When people completely separated us, I went to the police station to complain. The policemen after hearing my story said I should go back to my house and write a complaint against him and come back the day after. I just thought how it was irresponsible from them. Sending me back to my neighbor? Are they crazy? But I will write that complain and see what happens.

So from the story I just saw that there were more terrible things; that I was happy to have my light with me and should fight to keep him. How much he is a treasure. I met the girl afterwards and said she should not let such things happen to her, that she has rights; that she deserved more than that. She said thanks and that she was tired. I do not know if I should call the sos number for beaten women and girls, I will see. But I am still missing my light.

A girl (zur Wahrung der Sicherheit anonymisiert)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Die gesellschaftliche Position der Frau in Kamerun

Um den Schritt zur geschlechtlichen Gleichberechtigung in Kamerun gehen zu können, muss die Wertschätzung der Frau und ihrer Fähigkeiten und Leistungen in der Gesellschaft grundlegend verändert werden. Ihre Position ist durch die patriachalen Strukturen (die hauptsächlich durch das Christentum und den Islam etabliert worden sind) tendenziell in allen Bereichen als benachteiligt, unterdrückt und durch die Männer diskriminiert und beurteilt zu charakterisieren.
Ihre produktive Kraft und Kreativität bleibt in diesem Kontext meist ungesehen, obwohl bekannt ist, dass Frauen südlich der Sahara für 80 Prozent der Nahrungsmittelproduktion verantwortlich sind. In vielen Fällen kommt hinzu, dass Mütter ihre Kindern allein erziehen (zum Teil, weil die Männer ein polygames Leben führen) und sich und ihre Familie selbst versorgen müssen. Auch die Schulabbruchquote von Mädchen ist höher, als bei Jungen, was darauf zurückzuführen ist, dass es überwiegend die Mädchen sind, die ihre Eltern durch ihre Arbeitskraft unterstützen müssen und ihnen somit die Chancen für eine gute Ausbildung verwehrt wird. Neben dieser Tatsache gilt es die weibliche Beteiligung in der Politik zu stärken, vor allem um die Rechte für kamerunische Frauen einfordern zu können.
Nach Informationen von UNICEF fand man heraus, dass die fortschreitende Gleichberechtigung in anderen afrikanischen Staaten zur Verbesserung verschiedenster Lebensbereiche geführt hat, wie zum Beispiel dem Aufbau einer besseren Gesundheitsversorgung für Mütter und die Senkung von Kindersterblichkeit sowie die Verbesserung von Schulbildung. Eine sinnvolle Maßnahme ist deshalb eine stabile Vernetzung von Frauen untereinander aufzubauen, damit sie ein Forum bilden können, indem sie sich austauschen, helfen und sich ausdrücken können.

In Uganda/Bugundi entstanden beispielsweise Solidaritätsgruppen zur Traumabewältigung, die sich ebenfalls für unabhängige Finanzierungshilfen für Frauen einsetzten.
In Austauschprozessen werden Probleme zur Sprache gebracht und Möglichkeiten nach einer Umsetzung gesucht. Die Frauen schließen sich zu Sparvereinen zusammen und vergeben über die Einnnahme von Mitglieds-Beiträgen Mikrokredite an Mitglieder, die diese als Startkapital für ihre Selbstverwirklichung und wirtschaftliche Absicherung nutzen können.
Eine Studie von UNICEF in Kamerun bestätigt, dass die Effektivität von derartigen Zusammenschlüssen auch dort positive Auswirkungen haben könnte. Demnach würden Frauen mit einem eigenem Einkommen 74% davon dafür ausgeben die Lebensmittelversorgung der Familie aufzustocken, während es bei Männern nur 22% sind.
Ähnliche Initiativen existieren auch dort bereits. In einer Feldstudie berichtet Joyce Baynde Enderley von der `Association of Creative Teaching – Women in Development (ACT-WID)’, die für menschliche Ressourcen-Entwicklung und Nachhaltigkeit sorgen soll und nur von Frauen geleitet wird. Ihrer Meinung nach ist die Schaffung einer eigenen Einkommensquelle an Frauen ein wesentlicher Bestandteil zur Sicherung ihrer Existenz und Unabhängigkeit gegenüber Familie und Ehemann. Denn der Zugang zu Krediten ist nicht Gender-neutral. Der Grund liegt auf der Hand: die gesellschaftliche Investition in die Bildung von Männern ist höher, da Frauen oft ihre Familien als Arbeitskraft unterstützen müssen und dafür schon häufig nach der Grundschule ihre Schulzeit abbrechen. Aufgrund ihrer weiter entwickelten Ausbildung ist Männern der Prozess des Geldleihens verständlicher, weshalb sie sich einen besseren Zugang dazu verschaffen können. Weitere Ziele des Projektes sind das Wissen von indigen Frauen zu nutzen und sich darüber auszutauschen sowie es zu verbreiten, um die Situation von Frauen und die Zusammenarbeit von Frauenorganisationen zu verbessern.

Dass Frauenverbände in Kamerun und in ganz Afrika mit fehlender Akzeptanz und mangelnder gesellschaftlicher Anerkennung zu kämpfen haben, macht umso deutlicher, dass die Existenz dieser Zusammenschlüsse und ihre Vernetzung untereinander mehr als notwendig sind.
Bei unserem Aufenthalt in Kamerun wurde deutlich, dass versucht wird die Projektteilnehmerinnen aufgrund ihres Engagements einzuschüchtern und diese zu diffamieren, indem man ihnen vorwirft ein lesbischer Verein zu sein, der versuche den Menschen in Kamerun Homosexualität schmackhaft zu machen.
In Kamerun ist Homosexualität gesellschaftlich weitgehend tabuisiert, wobei sexuelle Handlungen strafbar sind. Die Heinrich-Boell-Stiftung führt ein Beispiel für eine Gerichtsverhandlung an, bei der 2005 neun Männer der Sodomie und homosexueller Akte angeklagt wurden. Die Anklage wurde zwar nach einem Jahr fallengelassen, jedoch ist die Traumatisierung und Stigmatisierung nicht wieder gutzumachen. Die Inhaftierung der kamerunischen Männer war ausschlaggebend für eine Politisierung der LGBTI-Bewegung (Lesben, Schwule, Bisexuelle, Transgender, Intersexuelle) im Land und führte zu der Entstehung der politischen Plattform lesbi, unter der aktiven Berücksichtigung der LGBTI-Rechte.
Von der Homophobie im Alltag zu einem toleranten und akzeptierten Umgang mit Homosexualität und geschlechtlicher Gleichberechtigung in der kamerunischen Gesellschaft ist dennoch ein weiter Weg zu beschreiten.

Britta

Quellenangaben:

? Bayande Enderley, Joyce 2002: Credit options, human resource development and the sustainability of women’s projects: case study of the `Association of Creative Teaching – Women in Development Projects’ in the South – West Province, Cameroon`. In: Women and Credit: Researching the Past, Refiguring the Future. (Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Women.) New York: Berg. 2002.

? http://www.afrol.com/Categories/Women/profiles/cameroon_women.htm
? http://www.boell.de/weltweit/afrika/afrika-Afrika-LGBTI-9040.html
? http://www.bundesregierung.de/Content/DE/Magazine/MagazinEntwicklungspolitik/071/s6-starke-frauen-in-kamerun.html
? http://www.ded.de/de/partnerlaender/uebersichtsseite-laender/kamerun/aus-der-praxis-ded-fuer-starke-frauen-in-kamerun.html
? www.entwicklung.at
? www.unicef.de
? http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexualit%C3%A4t_in_Kamerun

Monday, January 24, 2011

And some more about women in Africa

Women movements at the basis
In Uganda, Burundi and Nepal more then 30 000 women (and some men) have organised themselves in the past years in 800 solidarity groups. They made many formations and trained susutainable methods to survive economically. Basical topics such as violence done to women, right on property and right on poltical participation are widely and publically discussed. Out of these solidarity groups has emerged a new strong women movement of the basis. In Burundi many women are candidates for local elections, for Uganda the same is to be expected. In Nepal many rights could be applied such as equal pay for women and men or local gender budgeting. Even while some men are giving their support the way to effective equality is long: missing political will,
putting under pressure, missing laws of rights of women and the cultural denying of female requests are daily life. Programmes of equality need thus to be planned in long term. To change structures is a process, and not something to be done from today to tomorrow.
(Source: Barbara Kühhas, Gender expert of CARE Austria in weltnachrichten 3/10, www. entwicklung.at)

Hunger-Project:
The Africa-price is given to african men and women in leading positions from different societies and social fields, who show ne possibilities in Africa, who develop new constructive strategies and innovative initiatives by their moral authority - for a future without hunger.
2006 - Ellen Johnson Sirlaf – president of Liberia. first women voted president in an african country, made aid programmes after 14 years of civil war.
2003 - Meaza Ashenafi – founder of the advocat chamber of women in Ethiopia. She is engaged for women rights on al elvels and throughout the society, such as violence in the household, sexual abuse, family, economy, ground.
2003 – Sara Longwe – Gender referent, Sambia . Author and activist, has fighted for the application of international human rights for women rights in family courts. 6 years president of FEMNET, a panafrican network zealing to strenghthen the role of NGOs in female rights.
2001 - Amelai Jacob- co-founder of SHDEPHA+, Tansania – herself being HIV-positive she is engaged for the rights and the end of discrimination of hiv-positive people.
…And far more….
(source: The Hunger project)

Ruanda: Almost half of the enterprises are run by women. Women lead 9 of 24 ministries. In the parliament they have trhe majority with 45 to 35 deputes – this is worldwide unique. Ruana has a highest court, female, the capital Kigali has a femal mayor with a female vice. Women run a third of the households alone and build 55% of the workers. They build streets and houses, sit in banks, manage hotels, teach at universities, drive taxis and speak law – for exemples in the villages courts. Women run the show“ has tiled the Washington Post. It is not new that women carry more burdens then men – this is nearly in all african countires like that – new is, that they are decision makers. With postive impacts: the corruption is very much less, what the UN is directly loinking to the fact of influnce of women. The same case stuy says that Ruanda would have never been overcome the horrible past without its women. Which dosn not mean that women were inncoent of the genocid.
(source: www.tagesspiegel.de/politik/geschichte/die-starken-frauen-von…)

A far way to equality

One of the so-called millenium goals of the UN is the equality of men and women. Till 2015 the marginalisation of women and girls in education, professional chances, and income, health and nourriture should be overcome. This goal will not be attended..

Worldwide 35 to 40% of all employes are female. Thus compared to ten years ago 200 Millions more women are employed. But they don´t get the same salary nor they have won in influence on economy and politics. This is valid for many industrial countries, and specifically for poorer developing countries.

Women do a lot – for little money
Specifically in countries southern of the Sahara the fight against poverty is highly depending on the equality of women. Women are doing about 70% of the work in agriculture, but own only 1/8 of the land. About ¾ of the unpayed and unregistered work is done by women. Men instead occupy about ¾ of payed work.
(source: welthungerhilfe)