|Posted by Regina Fonjia Leke on March 6, 2013 at 4:55 AM|
Ahead of the 28thedition of the women’s day
Preparations towards the celebration of the 2013 edition of the International women’s day are already on top gear in Cameroon. Just almost two days to go to the 8th of March, internationally recognized as the day set aside to celebrate the woman, over 150 women drawn from 15 groups in the South West Region of Cameroon have been schooled on their rights to access and benefit from the rich natural resources ranging from forests to non- forests products.
The event which took place on the 4th of March at theYouth Center in Buea was organized by the German Cooperation in Cameroon theGIZ. The event was in line with the organization’s sixth edition of the “StrongWomen and girls” organized every March to mark the celebrations of the international women’s day and help empower women in various aspects. Opening the ceremony, the GIZ coordinator of the Strong women and girls program in Buea, Katharina Pfeifer explained that the aim of this year’s edition was to inform women on how they can have access and benefit from natural resources and to empower them take their own strategic decisions to be self employed.Speaking during the occasion, the Delegate for women’s empowerment, Ms MoffahJuditha Luma recalled that the theme of this year’s women’s day “elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls” was in line with the “Strongwomen and girls” campaign given that when you deny a woman a right to accessing natural resources it is violence. She therefore urged women to stand up to their rights to land, water and the resources therein. An official from the Ministry of Forestry also explained to the women attending the podium discussion that the 1994 laws of the nation’s user’s right gives everyone the authorization to get food from the forest. Women were equally made to understand there exists two types of forests notably the permanent forest which is protected by government for reasons of conservation, and the non-permanent forest where they can farm.
The event brought together women involved in different sectors who displayed their competences in the transformation of natural resources into finished goods. Amongst these were forest products such as “bush mango, njansah, eru” just to name these. Women equally demonstrated how they use palm nuts for the production of soap and other detergents.
When time came for demonstrations, two women representing theTofala Women’s group from the Lebialem highlands stole the show with their demonstrations on how they use palm oil to produce soap and how they use palm kernel oil and other ingredients to produce other detergents. The president of the group, Ms Sophie Awundiyi explained that the production of detergents using natural products is an age- long activity. “I started doing this a long time ago. I have learnt to use palm nuts to produce soap, sell in the market and inturn use it to take care of my family. Even other forest products like njansah and country onions, I harvest with the authorization of forest guards, transform some and feed my family” Other women groups demonstrated how they could use cassava to produce flour and chips while others showed their competences in the transformation of fruits into fruit juice.
It would be recalled that empowering women to have access to natural resources is in line with the access and benefit-sharing provisions of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) which is designed to ensure that the physical access to genetic resources is facilitated and that the benefits obtained from their use are shared equitably with the providers. The access and benefit sharing (ABS) of natural resources has been re-iterated in the 2010 Nagoya protocol.
By Regina Fonjia Leke