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AN EXAMINATION INTO THE CHALLENGES OF GENDER EQUALITY AND POLITICAL REPRESENTATION IN CAMEROON

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AN EXAMINATION INTO THE CHALLENGES OF  GENDER EQUALITY AND POLITICAL REPRESENTATION IN CAMEROON

CHAPTER ONE:

INTRODUCTION

Background of the study

Fundamental elements of democracy and social justice are gender equality and political representation. The worldwide focus towards the issue of gender equality in political representation has been substantial, underscoring the need for fair and equal involvement of both women and men in decision-making procedures (Bisong, 2018). In Cameroon, similar to several other nations, the attainment of gender equality in the realm of politics continues to pose a substantial obstacle. Although there have been advancements in several domains, women continue to be significantly underrepresented in positions of political leadership, which hampers their capacity to exert influence on policy and mould the socio-political environment of the country. The nation of Cameroon, situated in the region of Central Africa, achieved independence from France in 1960 and from the United Kingdom in 1961. Subsequently, the nation has achieved significant progress in its political evolution, undergoing a transformation from a single-party system to a multi-party democratic system in 1990 (Fouthe, 2017). Nevertheless, despite the presence of constitutional provisions that ensure gender equality and the prevention of discrimination, the level of women's involvement in politics continues to be limited. The perpetuation of gender discrepancies in political representation may be attributed, in part, to deeply ingrained social conventions, cultural attitudes, and institutional constraints (Kassa, 2015). The perpetuation of gender inequality in Cameroon is heavily influenced by societal norms and cultural practices. Traditional gender norms sometimes confine women to home domains, therefore limiting their possibilities for education, economic advancement, and engagement in public affairs. Moreover, there is a prevailing presence of patriarchal views, which results in the majority control of decision-making processes by males, hence marginalising the voices and contributions of women (Kinge, 2015).  Gender equality in political representation is hindered by legal frameworks. Although Cameroon has formally endorsed international treaties and enacted legislation with the objective of advancing women's rights and gender equality, the execution of these measures continues to be insufficient. The advancement of gender parity in politics is impeded by many legal obstacles, including election rules that exhibit bias, inadequate enforcement mechanisms, and insufficient representation of women in legislative bodies (Kinge, 2015). The obstacles encountered by women in political representation are further intensified by institutional restrictions. The prioritisation of gender inclusion in candidate selection procedures inside political parties, which are often dominated by male elites, may contribute to the perpetuation of male politicians' supremacy. Moreover, the presence of restricted availability of resources, such as financial backing and campaign assistance, presents challenges for women who want to pursue a career in politics (Kinge, 2015). 

Gender imbalance in political representation has far-reaching and complex implications. In addition to violating women's rights, the lack of women in positions of power harms democracy and obstructs inclusive government. The inclusion of women in the political sphere is crucial for effectively addressing a wide range of social issues and promoting sustainable development, since they provide distinct views, objectives, and experiences (Kinge, 2015). Appreciating the significance of tackling these difficulties, many parties in Cameroon, such as governmental establishments, non-governmental organisations, and global allies, have embarked on endeavours to advance gender parity in political representation. Various initiatives are undertaken to promote women's political involvement and leadership abilities, including advocacy and awareness campaigns as well as capacity-building programmes (Sundström, 2016). 

Notwithstanding these endeavours, notable obstacles persist, underscoring the need for all-encompassing approaches and enduring dedication to tackle the fundamental factors contributing to gender disparity in political participation. The objective of this research is to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the obstacles encountered by women within the political context of Cameroon. This analysis will explore the interplay between cultural norms, legal structures, institutional dynamics, and socio-economic variables that impact the achievement of gender equality in political representation (Sundström, 2016). This study endeavours to illuminate the aforementioned issues and ascertain viable remedies, with the ultimate objective of making a valuable contribution to the continuing scholarly conversation around gender equality and political representation in Cameroon. Ultimately, the goal is to cultivate a democracy that is more inclusive and equitable for all members of society. Therefore, the researcher sought to examine  the challenges of  gender equality and political representation in Cameroon.

1.2 Statement of the problem

The principles of gender equality and political representation are fundamental elements within a democratic society, since they play a vital role in promoting equitable and inclusive government. Nevertheless, the attainment of gender parity in political representation in Cameroon continues to pose a substantial obstacle. The underrepresentation of women in political decision-making processes persists, despite ongoing efforts to advance gender equality (Sundström, 2016). The objective of this study is to examine the many complex obstacles that impede gender equality and political participation in Cameroon, while also suggesting viable strategies for enhancing these areas. Cameroon still has substantial discrepancies in political participation between men and women, notwithstanding the progress achieved towards gender equality worldwide (UNWomen, 2017). The current political landscape continues to exhibit a lack of female representation in crucial decision-making positions, hence impeding the country's advancement towards achieving inclusive governance and sustainable development. The primary objective of this study is to ascertain and examine the complex obstacles that impede the achievement of gender equality and political representation in Cameroon.

1.3 Objective of the study

The broad objective of the study is to examine  the challenges of  Gender Equality and Political Representation in Cameroon. The specific objectives is as follows

Identify Barriers to Gender Equality in Political Representation in Cameroon

Evaluate the effectiveness of existing initiatives aimed at promoting gender equality in Cameroon.

Investigate the role of civil society organizations and advocacy groups in advancing gender equality and political representation in Cameroon.

Explore strategies for overcoming gender disparities in political representation in Cameroon.

1.4 Research Questions

The following questions have been prepared to guide the study

What are the barriers to gender equality in political representation in Cameroon?

How effective are the existing initiatives aimed at promoting gender equality in Cameroon?

What is the role of civil society organizations and advocacy groups in advancing gender equality and political representation in Cameroon?

What are the strategies for overcoming gender disparities in political representation in Cameroon?

1.5 Significance of the study

The findings of the study will be significant to the following

Government: Understanding the challenges of gender equality and political representation in Cameroon is crucial for fostering inclusive governance and sustainable development. By shedding light on the underlying factors contributing to gender disparities in politics, this research aims to inform evidence-based policy interventions and advocacy efforts aimed at promoting women's participation in decision-making processes. Ultimately, achieving gender parity in political representation will not only enhance democracy but also contribute to the socio-economic advancement and empowerment of women in Cameroon.

Academia: the study will be of benefit to the academic community as it will contribute to the existing literature.

1.6 Scope of the study

The study focuses on  the challenges of  Gender Equality and Political Representation in Cameroon. Empirically, the study will identify Barriers to Gender Equality in Political Representation in Cameroon, evaluate the effectiveness of existing initiatives aimed at promoting gender equality in Cameroon, explore strategies for overcoming gender disparities in political representation in Cameroon and investigate the role of civil society organizations and advocacy groups in advancing gender equality and political representation in Cameroon.

1.7 Limitations of the study

Like in every human endeavour, the researchers encountered slight constraints while carrying out the study. Insufficient funds tend to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature, or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire, and interview), which is why the researcher resorted to a moderate choice of sample size. More so, the researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. As a result, the amount of time spent on research will be reduced.

1.8 Definition of terms

Gender Equality: Gender equality refers to the state of equal access to rights, opportunities, resources, and treatment regardless of gender. It entails the absence of discrimination against individuals based on their gender identity or expression, and the promotion of fairness and equity between men and women in all aspects of life, including social, economic, cultural, and political spheres.

Political Representation: Political representation refers to the process by which individuals or groups advocate, articulate, and act on behalf of others within the political system. It involves the selection of representatives to hold public office, who are entrusted with the responsibility of voicing the interests, concerns, and preferences of their constituents, and making decisions that affect their lives within legislative bodies or governmental institutions.


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