Women’s Day In English Cameroon Marred By Deepening Anglophone Crisis and calls for boycott.
Amidst threats, fear and a ghost town observed today March 8th in the North West and South West Regions of Cameroon, some women in these two regions have braved all odds and joined their peers across the country and beyond to commemorate the 34th edition of the International women’s day.
In Bamenda, capital city of the North West region, the event was presided over by the Governor of the region, Adolf Lele L’Afrique. The turnout was relatively low as compared to previous years when peace and calm was still present in this region
In Buea, south West Region, the situation was basically the same characterized by a timid turnout, fear of the unknown and tight security. The Governor who in previous years has presided over the event was rather represented by his Secretary General. Today’s event was completely different from women’s day in past years full of effervescence, ambiance and colours.
Calls For Boycott
What has been observed today in the two regions is however not surprising. This is especially because this year’s event is coming at a time when the Anglophone crisis is almost at its apex .It has put the population of the two regions into an unimaginable hardship for close to three years running. Prior to this year’s event, calls came from political and civil society actors in different parts of the country for the event to be totally boycotted in solidarity with women and children who are arguably the most affected as a result of the crisis.
One of such calls for boycott came from Stand up for Cameroon. According to the Coordinator of Stand up for Cameroon, Edith Kah Walla who doubles as the President of the Cameroon People’s Party (CPP), children of Cameroon have been killed and others are out of schools. She adds that leaders of Cameroon have been arrested, the rights of Cameroonians to communicate have been violated and this is no time for celebration. “We will stand as women tomorrow in solidarity with our sisters all across the nation. #FridayInBlack.” “Stand for justice. Stand for freedom, Stand in BLACK, Stand for those who have been illegally and arbitrary arrested. This International Women’s Day is in BLACK in Cameroon.” Kah Walla wrote on her twitter page.
Stand up for Cameroon reiterated that they are not taking to the streets but would go about their daily activities in black as a way to express their grievances on March 8th.
h. He also expressed his discontentment on the approach the government has chosen to handle the crisis.
According to the South West and North West Women’s Taskforce (SNWOT), they are boycotting the event because their views are not being reflected. They also add that the government has refused to listen to them.
What About The Theme?
As concerns the theme, they say their suggestions were equally not taken into consideration despite the fact that they were asked to summit proposals. According to them, they would have expected the theme and fabric design to reflect what women are going through in the crisis hit regions.
Thus the theme “Crusade against gender inequality, committing to the new impetus” does not reflect the sufferings of women in the NW and SW Regions, adding that it is of no use commemorating women’s day when their husband and sons have been killed and their sisters are in the bushes and some don’t even have access to sanitary pads, talk less of good living conditions
“We want our voices to be heard and we want the cards shared so we can play. We are willing to talk with whoever wants to talk with us.. we are also pleading that people should came to us. More importantly, we want to be invited by the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Committee so we can table our proposals” Secretary General of SNWOT, Dr. Beatrice Titanji speaking to Press forum on HiTV.
Prior to the event, most denizens in the NW and SW Regions complained of scarcity of the traditional annual fabric. In the past years, the fabric has been considered almost a necessity by virtually all women. Kah Walla also expressed her views on the fabric “We’re boycotting the dress. If you already bought it, keep it and wear on some other day. Tomorrow is a day for protest and solidarity with all women who are suffering from the horrendous governance of this regime’’
Other Parts Of Cameroon
The event was however a success in other parts of the country. In the nation’s political capital Yaounde, the event took place at the 20th May Boulevard. It was presided over by the First Lady of the Republic, Mrs Chantal Biya.
The Minister of Women Empowerment and the family, Prof. Marie Therese Abena Ondoua and a host of other state dignitaries were also present at the event.