Women’s Empowerment in a Patriarchal Society

Women’s Empowerment in a Patriarchal Society

Cameroon Study Abroad The Women’s Empowerment Center in Kumba, Cameroon is a place for women who had not been able to finish regular schooling to go and develop skills that would enable them to be self-reliant.

This could have been due to lack of money or because of pregnancy. The goal of the center is to empower women and help them cope with family responsibilities.

There are a total of 67 other empowerment centers in Cameroon. The age range for the participants is between 15-55 years old. Each center has five departments:

  • The department of studies, and cooperation research
  • Department of economic empowerment of women and family
  • Department of social advancement (human rights)
  • Department of family wellbeing and the department of general affairs (infrastructure)

Some of the activities of the empowerment center are: agricultural production, hair dressing, catering/restoration, textile transformation, secretarial duties, technology/computer, microcredit management, and literacy.

While we were at the center, we were given a tour of the different areas of focus. We saw a group of women that were in the process of making soap. The women were writing down the ingredients and also how to assist in the process by taking turns spinning the liquid that would eventually become powdered soap. After that we went to the hair dressing room where we saw a few people practicing hair do on each other. The last station we visited was the textile room where there were close to 20 sewing machines and pictures of dresses hung up on the walls as examples.

I found this trip to be very important and significant, because I work at the women’s center in Bloomsburg. I noticed many similarities between the women’s center in Bloomsburg and this empowerment center in Kumba, Cameroon. They have similar goals to help women develop their self-esteem and acquire skills that would make them independent. It’s important for women to develop their skills in every country in the world. It is also significant that in a patriarchal society such as Cameroon, a center can be dedicated to the empowerment of women.

To me this shows a step forward in the progress of women’s rights and power in the global society. The center also focuses on ways to help the women manage their money and set up a stable source of income by training them in specific areas. Like the Bloomsburg women’s center, this center links women to the necessary resources needed for their own improvement.

The ultimate outcome in both countries is to help the women maximize resources available to them. This experience helped me to realize that women’s empowerment is universal and that Cameroon is making progress towards improving the quality of life for women.

This impression was confirmed during our visit with Her Excellency Dr. Marie-Therese Ondoa-Obama, the minister in charge of women’s condition and the family in Yaounde, the capital city of Cameroon.

    — Kerri Schertenberg, BU student | Photo gallery