On 25 November 2020, the Minister of Women’s Empowerment and the Family in Cameroon launched the 16 days of activism against genderbased violence.
The Ministry of employment and vocational training announced that 14,000 people had lost their jobs in Cameroon since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.
Floods affected 38,000 students in the Far North region.
As of 30 November 2020, WHO reported 24,719 COVID-19 confirmed cases and 437 deaths in Cameroon.
In this issue
P.1-2 Gender-based violence beyond the crises
P.3 Success story: Cash comes to rescue in COVID-19 time
P.4 Women progress with farming activities amid COVID-19 challenges
P.5 Floods affect 38,000 students
P.6 Resuming voluntary repatriation of CAR refugees from the East region to CAR
GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE BEYOND THE CRISES
As seen with the COVID-19 pandemic, gender-based violence is often exacerbated by crises.
But to combat violence against women and girls, we need to address the underlying causes that were already in place before the emergency struck.
In Cameroon, like in most countries across the globe, violence against women and girls is a concerning reality. On 25 November 2020, the Minister of Women’s Empowerment and the Family, in partnership with UN Women Cameroon and with the support of the Federal Republic of Germany, launched the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence.
The campaign, which contributes every year to take stock on actions to stop violence against women and girls, was celebrated in 2020 under the banner: Orange the world: fund, respond, prevent, collect! Cameroon adopted the theme: "Orange the world: mobilize the necessary factors to alleviate the socio-economic consequences of COVID-19 on women and girls" with the objective to mobilize United Nations agencies, Government partners, civil society, schools and universities, private sector, sports associations, and individuals to develop an inclusive approach to fight the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on women and girls.
In Cameroon, 56.4 per cent of women have suffered emotional and/or sexual violence at some point in their lifes.
Humanitarian situations, be they natural or human-made disasters, do not generate, but rather exacerbate the rates of gender-based violence.
Emotional and/or sexual violence is the manifestation of the pervasive, systematic and structural discrimination girls and women face. Discrimination reveals itself in multiple ways, therefore it is critical to analyse and understand inequalities.
For instance, while 39 per cent of the national Cameroonian population lives below the poverty line, this rate rises to 51.5 per cent for women. Of these, eight out of ten women are underemployed.
This precarious livelihood situation is also reflected by their lack of ownership of the land to cultivate: Only 1.6 per cent of women own a land title in their name. Access to a plot does not allow them to have control over it, as they do not have enough opportunities to assert their rights.
Gender inequality in humanitarian operations
Connecting these dots shows the strong relation that exists between gender inequality, exclusion, and increased vulnerability. Gender inequality, by denying equal rights and opportunities, exacerbates vulnerability.
Continuous discrimination – in education, health care, employment – influences individuals’ access to resources and capital. It impacts how decisions are made at household and community levels. It inevitably makes women and girls more vulnerable to shocks and stresses.
Effective violence prevention and a collective response that uproots its causes and upholds human rights, requires a broader understanding of inequalities. As a humanitarian community, when we do not account for and address gender inequality, we disregard factors that embed vulnerability for the entire population.
We also miss factors that would enable us to support families and communities to become more resilient. Too often, we have pre-conceived views about the needs of women and girls mainly focussing on protection concerns and ignoring other needs.
Not just about protection
By analyzing power dynamics and committing to shift unequal power relations, humanitarian actors can bring transformation. They can use opportunities and short-term interventions to address some of the root causes of inequality; influencing unequal practices and generating social change.
Preventing gender-based violence, particularly the one taking place behind closed doors, requires a concerted effort from all actors – not just the protection sector.
Reinforcing women’s socio-economic agency and autonomy and making it clear that a life free from violence is a benefit for all, requires a collective engagement.
Preventing gender-based violence includes ensuring that women have a voice in decisions making and in supporting their economic self-sufficiency. It also involves mobilizing boys and men to challenge harmful masculine norms that favor violence over dialogue and respect, among others.
Story by Delphine Brun, OCHA
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.