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Cameroon : 40% of women get married before 18

According to one study, nearly 40% of women are under 18, or fertility and maternal mortality rates are higher than the average for sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).
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05/09/2019 - 18:25
Mike Biya
Rédacteur cameroun-online

Gender inequalities persist, mainly in access to formal work and pay levels. At equivalent work, women's pay is about 67% of that of men, and only 66% of men's estimated income in PPP dollars. Several factors explain these differences. There is weak bargaining power over pay.

Women hold low-skilled jobs and are low paid. Unemployment is high among women with a female-to-male ratio of 1.4 in 2015 (UNDP). All of these factors push nearly 40% of women to get married before the age of 18. The challenge for public action is to ensure conditions of gender equality, without calling into question the social and cultural norms of Cameroon.

Given the economic cost of remaining gender inequalities in Cameroon, increasing women's contribution to economic growth would be in line with the government's development agenda. There has been progress in women's economic empowerment, an area where Cameroon is doing better than its peers.

Empowerment of women in politics needs to be supported, especially in senior positions at the regional level. Awareness campaigns have paved the way for greater participation of women in politics. The electoral code of 2012 prescribes the inclusion of women on the lists of candidates for the municipal, legislative and senatorial elections, without setting quotas.

As a result, women's representation reached 31% in Parliament in 2017 (compared with 13.9% in 2010), 20% in the Senate (26% following the last elections), 16% in municipal councils and 8% among mayors. However, there are only 17% women in ministerial positions, and none among the governors of regions. Women represent ¼ of the judicial staff (judges, bailiffs, notaries and lawyers).

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