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AN INVESTIGATION INTO WOMEN'S PARTICIPATION IN POLITICS AND LEADERSHIP ROLES IN CAMEROON

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AN INVESTIGATION INTO WOMEN'S PARTICIPATION IN POLITICS AND LEADERSHIP ROLES IN CAMEROON

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background of the study

Since Cameroon gained independence from French Cameroon in 1960 and the reunification of British Southern Cameroons with the Cameroon Republic in 1961, women have had limited leadership roles in both the legislative and executive branches of government. However, the extensive body of literature pertaining to political leadership in African nations unequivocally demonstrates a prevailing male inclination, starting with the indigenous governing establishments and progressing into contemporary leadership. It might be argued that women have been underrepresented in political leadership roles, with their presence being infrequent or sporadic (Mussa, 2016). The presence of colonial authority in African nations like Sierra Leone, Nigeria, and Dahomey, both before and after independence, clearly established the foundation for women's restricted participation in political leadership, and in certain cases, their complete exclusion from leadership roles (Kassa, 2015).However, it is important to note that women were incorporated into decision-making and leadership processes prior to the colonial era. This stands in stark contrast to Tabuka's (2015) argument that throughout history, women have been marginalised from engaging in political activities and participating in political institutions. In Nigeria, similar to several other African nations, it is acknowledged that a limited number of women have occupied governmental positions, whether by election or appointment (Tam and Pilar, 2016). In recent times, there has been an observable increase in the representation of women in leadership roles within the executive and legislative branches of Cameroon and several other African nations. The issue of women's involvement in politics and leadership positions has garnered considerable attention and apprehension on a worldwide scale, mirroring wider efforts to attain gender parity and societal fairness. In Cameroon, similar to several regions elsewhere, there has been a historical underrepresentation of women in political decision-making processes and leadership roles. Although there has been some advancement in recent times, gender inequalities continue to exist, impeding the complete achievement of women's capacity to influence policies, governance, and national growth (Bisong, 2018). Cameroon, a nation characterised by its cultural diversity and richness, has achieved significant progress in the advancement of gender equality and the protection of women's rights via the implementation of multiple legislative frameworks and adherence to international obligations. Nevertheless, the implementation of these ideas into concrete results continues to be a difficulty, especially in the domain of politics and leadership. Women's effective engagement in these sectors is hindered by prevalent patriarchal norms, socio-economic impediments, cultural attitudes, and institutional prejudices (Fouthe, 2017). 

To comprehend the determinants of women's involvement in politics and leadership positions in Cameroon, a thorough examination of several aspects is necessary. These aspects include historical circumstances, socio-cultural dynamics, legislative structures, and institutional procedures. Prior studies have identified many significant obstacles encountered by women in these fields, including restricted availability of resources, prejudiced behaviours inside political organisations, conventional gender norms, and social pressures (Kinge, 2015). Furthermore, the interconnectedness of gender with other variables such as ethnicity, socioeconomic status, educational attainment, and regional positioning adds extra complexity to the matter, resulting in distinct obstacles for various cohorts of women. For example, women residing in rural regions may meet unique obstacles in contrast to their urban counterparts, whilst those belonging to marginalised ethnic communities may face supplementary barriers when attempting to obtain political chances (Kinge, 2015). 

Notwithstanding these obstacles, there have been noteworthy instances of achievement and endeavours directed at advancing women's political engagement and leadership in Cameroon. Civil society organisations, activists for women's rights, and foreign partners have played a crucial role in promoting policy changes, enhancing women's capabilities, and establishing platforms for women's perspectives to be acknowledged in decision-making procedures. Nevertheless, there are still deficiencies in study, especially in comprehending the intricate processes that influence women's experiences and approaches to surmounting obstacles to political engagement and leadership.

1.2 Statement of the problem

The democratic system of Cameroon has under close examination, especially in relation to the presidential election procedure. A succession of presidential elections has been seen inside the nation, each characterised by distinct dynamics and ramifications for the realm of democratic administration. Nevertheless, the degree to which these elections impact the course of democracy in Cameroon remains uncertain and requires further examination. The issue under consideration pertains to comprehending the diverse impacts of presidential elections on the prospective trajectory of democracy in Cameroon (Sundström, 2016). Prominent concerns include the dimensions of openness and equity within election procedures, the significance of political engagement and representation, the safeguarding of civil liberties and human rights, and the broader framework of democratic government. Additionally, it is important to analyse the socio-political milieu that encompasses these elections, including elements such as political volatility, ethnic animosities, and socio-economic inequalities, which have the potential to influence the democratic environment (Sundström, 2016). Prior research has examined several facets of democracy and elections in Cameroon. However, there is a lack of comprehensive studies that thoroughly evaluate the enduring consequences of presidential elections on the nation's democratic prospects.

1.3 Objective of the study

The broad objective of the study is to investigate women's participation in politics and leadership roles in Cameroon. The specific objectives is as follows

To assess the level of women's participation in political decision-making processes in Cameroon.

To examine the impact of socio-cultural factors on women's involvement in politics and leadership positions in Cameroon.

To identify the barriers hindering women's access to leadership roles in Cameroon's political landscape.

To propose strategies and recommendations aimed at enhancing women's representation and empowerment in political and leadership spheres in Cameroon.

1.4 Research questions

The following questions have been prepared to guide the study

What is the level of women's participation in political decision-making processes in Cameroon?

What are the impact of socio-cultural factors on women's involvement in politics and leadership positions in Cameroon?

What are the barriers hindering women's access to leadership roles in Cameroon's political landscape?

What are the strategies aimed at enhancing women's representation and empowerment in political and leadership spheres in Cameroon?

1.5 Significance of the study

The findings of the study is significant to the following

Policymakers: Investigating the factors that influence women's participation in politics and leadership can inform the development of targeted policies and interventions aimed at addressing gender disparities. By identifying structural, cultural, and institutional barriers, policymakers can implement strategies to promote women's empowerment, such as affirmative action measures, gender-sensitive electoral reforms, and capacity-building initiatives.

Academia: findings of the study will be significant to the academic community as it will contribute to the existing literature

1.6 Scope of the study

The study focuses on investigating women's participation in politics and leadership roles in Cameroon. Empirically, the study will assess the level of women's participation in political decision-making processes in Cameroon, examine the impact of socio-cultural factors on women's involvement in politics and leadership positions in Cameroon, identify the barriers hindering women's access to leadership roles in Cameroon's political landscape and propose strategies and recommendations aimed at enhancing women's representation and empowerment in political and leadership spheres in Cameroon.

1.7 Limitation 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

Women's Participation: This refers to the involvement, engagement, and presence of females in political activities and decision-making processes within the context of the political system of Cameroon.

Politics: Politics encompasses the activities, practices, and ideologies related to governance, decision-making, and power dynamics within a society or nation-state, including but not limited to elections, policymaking, and political representation.

Leadership Roles: Leadership roles pertain to positions of authority, influence, and responsibility within political structures, including roles such as elected officials, party leaders, heads of government departments, and representatives in international forums.


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