27.8.15

Finance Our Future : Young Woman's Reflections from the FfD3 in Addis, Ethiopia

Published by Wfac Team, August 27, 2015

One can’t talk of development without talking about gender justice and financing,Nancy Makeoh (@MakeohMafor)Wfac Cameroon (@Wfaccmr) Community Outreach Manager shares her reflections from FfD3 in Addis, Ethiopia.

Its over a month since I returned from Ethiopia from the FfD3 summit where I was privileged to represent Wfac Cameroon (@Wfaccmr), thanks to the nomination and sponsorship of  Femnet

The Third Financing for Development (FfD3) took place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, July 13-16, 2015. Prior to the summit, I was had the privilege to attend a couple of important side events and meetings, while also working with the Women’s Working Group on Financing for Development (WWG on FfD) to ensure that the FfD3 recognises the need to invest in women’s and girls’ human rights, health, education and leadership.

The FfD3 summit was quite timely especially now when world leaders will soon adopt a global development agenda. It is therefore of extreme importance to address responsive financing for development: for one can’t talk of development without talking about gender justice and financing.

The topics discussed at the summit were cross-cutting, though of global and local importance. Some of the key items that were discussed include though not limited to;
  • Tax justice and domestic resource mobilization
  • Private finance
  • International public finance
  • Debt, trade, systematic issues and technology
  • Data, follow-up and review

Of all the discussions, I got very much interested in tax justice and domestic resource mobilization. This was a learning session for me especially to see how politicised tax discourses were been addressed at the global level and what the United Nations thinks about it and also how resources will be allocated to facilitate the achievement of the sustainable development goals to make it a success.

“We all pay tax - directly or indirectly; whether or not we have a formal and/or informal job, employed and/or unemployed. The only difference amongst tax payers is how equitable are their tax benefits”, says Zoneziwoh Mbondgulo Wondieh, WFAC Executive Director during the FfD3 campaign for Action2015


“The issue of tax justice did not start today”, says one participant at the FfD3, it has been there even before the first and second international conference on the financing for development (FfD) that were held in Monterrey and Doha 2002 and 2008 respectively.

As a young woman whose future, education and health, strongly rely on the decision world leaders will make this September 2015, it was important to watch political leaders and business tycoons playing with words about financing our future. Nonetheless, I feel empowered and more informed around development financing, tax justice and domestic resource mobilization. Just listening to great minds share their wisdom and expertise on how our future can be far more better for all if each one of us plan and invest wisely. The discussion also broadened my scope and understanding around challenges women face because of tax injustice, and the advantages of tax justices most importantly on women considering the fact that, women most often are the ones involve in doing small businesses and are been asked to pay high taxes. Another key issue which I feel is worth noting from the meeting was taxation challenges faced at regional level, how the allocation of domestic resources can improve gender equality and women economic empowerment.

The FfD3 concluded with an the adoption of an Addis Abeba Action Agenda on financing the post-2015 sustainable development agenda over the next 15 years and beyond.

The experience in Addis was very enriching and I left the summit with more stronger sense and hope that we can all do it. All that needed is just the will to make financing development agenda work for women and girls health and education.

11.8.15

Strategic Investment in youth power is key to economic growth and development in Cameroon.

Young people hold the future and denying them their rights to a meaningful civic engagement especially in deciding on matters that directly affects their lives and future is not only a violation to their human rights but has a strong negative impact to national growth and development. It is also imperative to say that it is a failure from the government to ensure and promote democratic practices and enhancement of the future leaders and workforce. 

Research estimates that 64% of Cameroon’s population are young people under 30 years. This is an essential workforce to drive economic growth and development. However, in most national debates, young people’s voices are hardly ever heard and counted. This includes policies, decisions and laws that directly impacts and influence their lives and development.

To commemorate the International Youth Day 2015, Women for a Change (Wfac), Cameroon in collaboration with Hope for the Needy Association (hofna), Cameroon, Iam15 Action/2015 Youth Ambassadors will hold a two-day Interactive and Inter-generational Solidarity Meeting to celebrate youth activism, participation and engagement in the post-2015 agenda and its discourse in Cameroon. The meeting will be held with young people between the ages of 15-35 years, under the theme, “Youth Power.It’s down to Us!”

For the last two years or more, Wfac has been engaged in the post-2015 development process, from the Africa Regional Conferences in Addis, Ethiopia, to the intergovernmental negotiations in New York, U.S.A to ensure that the voices of women and youth is heard in this fora.

Wfac has held over 50 community actions initiatives, including campaigns at the grassroots, advocacy meetings, inter-generational dialogues, all geared towards advancing youth participation and involvement in the post-2015 agneda. It has also worked with diverse groups and individuals, including 15 year old students, school dropout, young professionals, women and youth groups in mobilising, organising and popularising the post-2015 process, ensuring that young people voices, especially those of adolescent girls are heard and counted in this global agenda.


To strategically give a voice to young people in Cameroon, in June 2013, Wfac conducted for the first time in Fako Division, in th Southwest Region,  the “My World Survey”, reaching out to about 1500 young people, women and men under 35 years with the questionnaires, encouraging them  to add their voices by voting for their most priorities in the ‘my world’ survey. 

In 2014, Wfac led a series of robust national campaigns and advocacy meetings with some 22 youth leaders and activists representing 10 youth-led and women-led organisations across the country, calling on the Government of Cameroon and policy makers to position and prioritise human rights issues at the core of the post-2015 sustainable development agenda. 

For this year of 2015, all Wfac members have been extremely active and busy with limited rest this is coupled by the fact that we are just a small team of three -  nevertheless, our team size did not hinder our effective engagement to seize this pivotal moment to influence change, and ensure we choose the future we want for the world and for that matter Cameroon by 2030! 

As an active member of the Action2015 campaign,  as well as the Coordinator for the National Coalition of Action2015 Cameroon, it’s been a great honour for Wfac and I to work with the youth in this country, especially the 15 year old ambassadors, youth champions, CSOs such as Hofna - to advocate  for government’s support for an inclusive and ambitious evidence-based post-2015 development agenda. Centred to all our work is that urge to meaningfully engage and participate in designing the future we want for ourselves and our future.

Today, August 12, as we celebrate our activism, participation and involvement in the post-2015 process, let’s continue to build on more momentum, as well as using our Youth Power to galvanize and with positive pressure for an integrated and inclusive approach in designing and implementing the national action plan of the global sustainable development agenda over the next 15 years and putting the advancement and development of  young people at the forefront. 

Today is just the beginning of a long walk for a just and safe world for all, women, and men!

15.7.15

The Cameroon We Want by 2030

 The CameroonWeWant‬ by 2030 through the eyes of young people.‪ The Africa We Want‬ ‪#‎FFd3‬ Finance Our Future‬
During the celebration of the National Day on May20, a team from Women for a Change Cameroon and Hope for the Needy Association (hofna) Cameroon, went out in the streets, schools and communities and asked young Cameroonians to tell us about their vision for Cameroon. Over 300 young people were interviewed as part of the first VAF animation documentary on the ‪#‎Post2015‬ in ‪#‎Cameroon‬.
Their responds covered a wide range of topics, including promotion of climate justice, peace, security, development financing, equal opportunity for all, quality education, employment and descent job; ensuring access quality and affordable health care services, care and facilities; eradicating extreme hunger/poverty; the fight against corruption, climate change, gender inequality /injustice, economic development and youth under/unemployment....
click below to watch video or click on this link  / Video 




7.7.15

Preaching the Gospel of Gender Equality to the People of Mudeka, Wfac's Team write

"Living in this little creek has made people forget and abandoned us", says the V.P of GBHS #Mudeka, "we need this education for empowerment and development"

On June 19, Michel and Nancy of WFAC visited Mudeka for their usual community outreach and educational talks to youth and women's groups. Unlike the usual speaking to women, the  visit this time had participation from men, youth, boys and elder, as well as women who had previously attended the May workshop along with some new faces who joined them for a first time.

Michel Bélanger-Roy, WFAC’s legal intern, opened the floor by talking about marriage and the law in Cameroon. The workshop was designed to inform married women of their rights and responsibilities. As Michel and Nancy stressed out, marriage can often protect women in vulnerable positions, but it is essential for women to know their rights in order to enforce them. He also pointed out that it is important to distinguish a marriage that is recognized by law, one that is not, and one that is only recognized by customary law. However, as he explained, whatever the situation you are in, there are many different ways to protect yourself from uncertainty. Some examples were given, such as registering property in your name, drafting a will or making a living together agreement.

Nancy Makeoh, WFAC’s community outreach coordinator, took over and gave a presentation on gender equality. After discussing the differences between gender and sex, she pointed out the many ways in which gender inequalities persist today in Cameroon, and the consequences of these inequalities on our lives. Drawing from various perspectives, she insisted on the many advantages of attaining gender equality for women and for society as a whole. Thus, she presented the social and economic advantages, and talked about the role of stereotypes in the evolution of gender equality. She also emphasized the role of education in achieving gender equality. Finally participants were invited to be part of the change themselves by teaching others around them on the advantages of gender equality.

This introduced Michel’s presentation about the importance of education. By various examples, Michel discussed with participants how education was closely linked to equality, employment, politics, economy, health and safety. Participants talked about their heroes and realized how education had played an important role in their accomplishments. Finally, Michel narrowed the topic down to the education of girls, and showed how education was a key to improve their lives, but also those of their families and communities.


The workshop ended with a discussion about the struggles of poor families to provide a good education to their children. A group picture was taken to immortalize this rewarding afternoon with the inspiring women of Mudeka.

For more info about Wfac's activities / Community Outreach, contact: wfacbuea@ymail.com or click here 

Follow us on Twitter  / Instagram via @Wfaccmr

2.6.15

Mudeka women for gender equality

On May 30, Women for a Change Cameroon visited Mudeka for a workshop dedicated to gender equality. During these two hours, 20 women of all ages discussed gender issues in the shade of a large tree right in front of the local chief’s palace.

Michel Bélanger-Roy, a Canadian law student currently doing an internship with WFAC, opened the floor by talking about the gap in between laws and day-to-day life; as well as highlighting on some articles in the constitution of Cameroon that guarantees equality between men and women.

Nancy Makeoh, WFAC’s community outreach coordinator, continued the conversation by introducing the participants to Action/2015. The attendees were interested to learn about the transition from MDGs to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and how there is on-going campaign for action around gender equality and justice.


The participants also added their voice calling for greater efforts in all domains, especially gender equality and women’s health and bodily autonomy. 


May28 Campaign "My Body, My Rights" - Intl Women's Health Day 
Mudeka Young Women demand from governments NO MORE WORDS. TAKE ACTION!

26.5.15

Voices of 15 year old on the Future They Want for Cameroon


Young people speak out on the future they want for Cameroon and how they are ready to commit towards its realisation.
Wednesday, May 20,  the Iam15 Ambassadors would join millions of youth across the country to celebrates the 43rd edition of Cameroon's National Day. This ceremony usually brings and gathers millions of young people, children, youth-led organisations, individuals, students and youth leaders across the country including rural communities to commemorate the creation of unitary country in 1972. 

In the lead up to May 20th, Women for a Change Cameroon visited two schools across the southwest region, to discuss with the  campaign ‘Iam15’ ambassadors for the citizen action/2015 program on the post2015 development agenda. Over 45 students attended the events. 

Key issued discussed were; the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the responsibilities of the government and young Cameroonians to attain them. 

Asked about their message to the government, the students were clear: they want to remind government officials that the date to adopt the SDGs is fast approaching.  Therefore, the need to act fast and ambitious. 

Some of Iam15 Ambassadors however had specific inquiries, though no limited to: “Women must hold top / strategic positions in government offices in order to develop the country”, stated a student from Summerset Bilingual College, while her colleague insisted “to preserve the forest and fight climate change”. Ayamba Schnyder, from Mudeka’s Government Bilingual High School, asked for “a combat to bribery and corruption”.

Youths Speaking for Youth 


The Students also addressed a message to their fellow young Cameroonians. “The youth should contribute to the action 2015 to better the future, by spreading the objectives to those who are not aware”, said one. Many emphasized the importance of education: “We need to study hard to become leaders of tomorrow”, summarized a student from Mudeka; “ young people have a major role to play in developing Cameroon. Let’s take responsibility for it.”

In addition, Wfac further asked the students what they would tell the minister of youth affairs in Cameroon if given the opportunity to speak with him. “I would tell him about difficulties that youths are facing, like poverty which arises from lack of education” said a student in one of the colleges, HIBMAT - Buea. Employment opportunities were a concern that several youths would stress. Enang Joseph Nathaniel, from Mudeka’s Action 2015 Club, suggested: “I would ask the minister to use the Internet to engage with young people across the country.” 

Finally, students reflected on the role that young people could play to make Cameroon an emerging country by 2035. The diversity of ideas was matched only by their enthusiasm. “Fight poverty in all of its forms, combat climate change, fight gender inequalities and improve agricultural practices”, suggested one, while another added that “youths should carry out developmental projects in the communities.”


This piece an excerpt from  Women for a Change, Cameroon (Wfac) Voice Africa's Future documentary series. Compiled by Michel -Roy, McGill Law Student volunteering at Wfac

24.4.15

Don’t Ignore the Voices of Young People on SRHR in the Post-2015 Agenda


We cannot continue to talk about sustainable development without considering the needs and aspirations of girls, youth and women who constitute over 65% of the worlds population.

From April 12 to 17 of this year, I attended the 48th session of the Commission on population and Development(CPD48) at the United Nations' New York headquarters, New York. 

It was a week of rich discussions and deliberations around fundamental issues like promoting gender equality, youth empowerment, peace, education, security, health, environment, global partnership and sustainable development, and among others. 

I had the opportunity to meet and interact with heads of delegations and governments and together we exchanged views as well as looked at
key issues affecting girls, women and youth and their lives, especially when it comes to ensuring their access to accurate and quality information, services and education that will allow them to make responsible decisions and informed choices on their health specifically and their future as a whole. 

On April 17, The Permanent Mission of Zambia to the United Nations, Aids Accountability International (AAI) and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) hosted an African Youth Task Force Initiative panel on “Realising the Future We Want:The State of African Youth in which I had the privileged of speaking on the panel and talk about my work at the grassroots with young people and how this has helped popularize SDGs, the post-2015 process in Cameroon as well as garner governments support around key priorities.  

Additionally, key highlights on the presentation included the recent activity I organised - an Intergenerational dialogue on a youth friendly post2015, action2015 nation campaign, local / national advocacy and mobilisation of an inclusive post2015 agenda.  

I also highlighted the importance of development vision and actions taking into consideration women and youth rights and involving them in creating and delivering the agenda.

As I reflect on my experiences at CPD48, I recall one panelist's words. where he said:"Though SRHR is just an acronym, the message is simple! it means having basic rights over your own body."

Unlike the panelist's view, some member states, especially from Africa dubbed Africa Group were constantly in opposition to defending human rights especially sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).

The African Group which supposedly is an Africa States Coalition was speaking not within national capacities and / or in line with most African countries progressive policies. The influence from the African group impede individual African nations from speaking into their national capacities.  

The African Group is supposedly an Africa States Coalition that often speaks for Africa / africans. In as much a coalition movement can bring development, so too can it impede development. It is worth noting that the Africa group does not speak in any countrys national capacity. Often its opinions does not align with most African countries progressive policies. Their influence however prevents individual African nations from speaking on their own behalf.

The group also overlooks progressive views on Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) and also waters down regional agreements like the Addis Declaration (2013), Maputo Protocol and other regional treaties and national frameworks that promotes human rights language, including the respect and protection of individual sexual and reproductive health and rights. 

What saddens me is the fact that Africa group continue to ignores and rejects languages on SRHR, when over 39 000 of girls as young as 9, 12 and / or 14year-old, majority from Africa have their SRHR deprived and denied through forced, early marriages, and / or trafficked into sex slavery and child labor. 

In Cameroon, an estimated 53% of women have experienced some form of violence before reaching 18 years. Also by age 18, 25.2% are either pregnant or already mothers.Adolescent girls account for at least 90% of unsafe abortion each year and this remains the leading cause to increasing maternal mortality in Cameroon. 61% of women of reproductive age have unmet need for contraceptives and a range of modern methods (The 2004 Demographic and Health Survey (DHS))

These statistics reveal actual reality/ conditions on the ground. They show that young people are leading in new cases of HIV/AIDS, disease, unemployment, and insecurity. Women of all ages are incapable of exercising and enjoying SRHR."

Yet, there is so much political talk on building a sustainable future!

It is therefore imperative that in designing the future that we want, the rights of women and young people must be prioritized at local, regional, national, and global levels, and special emphasis must be put on sexual rights and reproductive health and rights.

Let's not make the same mistake of 2000!

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Further Information 


Thanks to the generous contribution of Mandela Washington Fellowship Speaker Travel Grant program supported by USAID - US Agency for International Developmentand IREX.

29.12.14

WFAC response to the SG Synthesis Report

Women for a Change, Cameroon (WFAC)   would like to express its sincerest appreciation and support to the United Nations Secretary General synthesis report on the post 2015 Agenda: The Road to Dignity by 2030: Ending Poverty, Transforming All Lives and Protecting the Planet

WFAC welcomes the SG synthesis report and most importantly the six essential elements for delivering the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

23.11.14

Member States overlook Agreed Language on Women’s Rights at Beijing+20


I have always wondered whether when it comes to [inter/governmental ] negotiations on military spending, do member states overlook agreed language in the same way as they do on women’s rights and gender equality. 


For several decades, state authorities have compromised, overlooked and marginalised women’s issues. They give more precedence to military expenses, economy, bilateral / multilateral trade agencies and infrastructural development and little attention to gender responsive actions. Most states have failed to realised that for growth to be attained, efforts must be made to address the gender gaps.