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Ending the Anglophone Crisis brings Economic Development – experts say at WERC

It has been observed that women are the most affected in the more than five years crisis that has been ongoing in the country’s South West and North West Regions. Women are said to represent 71.6 per cent of workers in the informal sector and have a major role to play in ending the conflict and in reconstructing these two regions.

The experts were speaking during the Fourth-panel discussion on Women’s Economic Rights in Cameroon, WERC this Friday, April 22, 2022, organized by the Nkafu Policy Institute, a think tank at the Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation. The theme of the discussion centred on: “Assessing the Economic Strength of Women in the Reconstruction of the North West and South West Regions of Cameroon.”

“Women have been leading the fight in searching for solutions. They have written and taken to the streets to call for a ceasefire and called for the need for dialogue to be organized,” Francis Tazoacha, Director of the Peace and Security Division of the Nkafu Policy Institute said.

“Women have been badly affected due to the crisis and they have seen their farms even burnt. We cannot build an economy when war is presently going on. Reconstruction can only come when the crisis is ended. After this, we can empower women which will intend to have a ripple effect in the entire economy.”

Baiye Frida Ebai, Founder/Executive Director of Blessing Associates for Women and Children, BAWAC, Cameroon, on her part noted that it is important for women to be involved in the dialogue process to bring peace to the troubled regions. She added that women are the backbone of their households and even the entire economy of the country. “It is not rocket science. We should look for a solution to the crisis and stop wasting resources,” she said.

Baiye Frida added that insecurity is not the only factor that is affecting women as corruption is still very much endemic and “inadequate trust from the population to their local authorities”. “Our social capital has been broken down; women’s abilities to socialize and build themselves up like through njangi groups has been greatly affected.”

“There is also neglect of the grassroots and that needs to be built up. We need dialogue so these things could be stabilized. When these things have been stabilized, we will see that we will have a stronger nation,” Baiye Frida added.

The session focused on identifying activities of women in these regions and their labour force participation; analysing the impact of the socio-political crisis on women’s economic empowerment in the NW and SW Regions; discuss the impact of women’s economic empowerment in peacebuilding in the NW and SW Regions and make recommendations for the effective contribution of women in post-crisis economic recovery.

Despite what seems to be a relative calm in many parts of the Anglophone regions, Francis Tazoacha said things are not yet fine as some people may think from a far distance. “People think when Buea, and Limbe are fine it means that the entire region is fine. We should advocate for a ceasefire as kidnappings and stray bullets are still the other of the day in some areas. How do you think things will go back to normal if there is no ceasefire?” He said.

Adeline Tsopgni, President of the Cameroon Debate Association went further to encourage women to look at diversifying by getting involved in not just the agricultural business. She said some structures have been put in place to see to it that women thrive despite the ongoing war. “Agriculture is good but there are other areas that women could get involved in. Women should not be static or that there are no things for them to do or that there are no avenues for them to get empowerment,” Adelie said.

“Women should be brought on board add even lead some of these delegations and commissions to seek an end to the crisis. If women are in these commissions, I am sure that we women will bring an end to the crisis with the right space,” Baiye Frida concluded.

The WERC (Promotion of Women’s Economic Rights in Cameroon) project developed by the Nkafu Policy Institute aims to remove barriers to women’s participation in productive activities

As his take-home message, Francis Tazoacha said: “The government and the warring parties should give way for a third party for the crisis to come to an end. If the root causes of this crisis are not solved, all that we have discussed here cannot be put in place.”

About the WERC Project

The WERC (Promotion of Women’s Economic Rights in Cameroon) project developed by the Nkafu Policy Institute aims to remove barriers to women’s participation in productive activities. Specifically, it aims to conduct an advocacy campaign with a coalition of government actors, parliamentarians, businesses, media and academics to promote women’s economic rights in Cameroon. In this sense, the project will advocate for women’s economic prosperity and freedom in Cameroon, focusing on how policy and institutional considerations frame the conditions of their access to national resources in general, and in particular how certain administrative measures or existing laws constitute obstacles to their equal participation in productive activities.