21 December 2007


The Ministry of External Relations launched activities marking the 5th edition of Friendship Days between Cameroon and Europe on December 12, under the theme "Women and Development" at the conference hall of the Ministry of External Relations.

Activities marking the Friendship were aimed at brainstorming and coming up with positive instruments that could improve on the women's role and development in society.

Welcoming participants, the Director of European Department at the Ministry of External Relations, Mrs. Julie Kamto, explained that the theme was not by accident.She said the topic was aimed at knowing the specific contributions of women in the social, political and economic development.

Considering the role that women play in society, she said, it is important for them to participate in decision-making and to improve on their status.Representing the European Union, the Italian Ambassador to Cameroon, Antonio Bellavia, said some of the goals of this relationship entail the promotion of peace and democracy, human rights, gender equality and the fight against illiteracy, genital mutilation and all forms of inhumane practices.

In the colloquium that was organised at the International Relations Institute of Cameroon, IRIC, Chevening Fellow from Nottingham University, Mrs. Moutngui Esther, talked about women and social development.

She highlighted that society must promote women's rights but stressed that it is the woman herself who can effectively fight for this promotion. Legislation must be improved on the issue because although there is a Civil Code that provides for laws on equality, much still has to be done with real promotion, thus the necessity of a family code that effectively elaborates laws on the improvement of the status of a woman.

However, she added that the real problem is at the level of culture and tradition where some practices are unfavourable to women. She thus, called for the promotion of women's careers and the necessity for the woman to take a frontline role in decision making.

The Coordinator of GTZ Project "Tantins", Dr. Flavien Tiokou, presented a project on the necessity to educate young girls on their sexual and reproductive life.He stated that 21 percent of adolescents have unwanted pregnancies, 37 percent abandon school because of unwanted pregnancies and are stimulated or excluded socially.

He also said that practices such as breast ironing, sexual abuse and female genital mutilations should be discouraged, whereas a researcher on HIV/AIDS at the International Research Centre of Chantal Biya, Dr. Giulia Cappeli, dwelled on the role of the African woman in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

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Conclusions from the discussions indicated that women's employment is a major tool to help improve on their situation. It was also noted that is important to change those practices that violate the rights of a woman. Discrimination against women should be discouraged and education must be promoted because it is through education that a woman can have access to employment and other values of development.

Friendship Days between Cameroon and Europe falls under the tradition of Thematic Days organised by the Ministry of External Relations to enforce efforts of partners in the diplomatic sector in improving cooperation between Cameroon and these partners.

The first edition of the Friendship Days was launched in 2003.

Edith Wirdze

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