Genderising leadership role, a way to free women from women’s Rights abuse and violence

Fosah Frinwie Loveline Muma
Posted January 2, 2019 from Cameroon





One of the greatest global policy issues that interest me is Women’s Right and genderising leadership role (Gender Equality) to enhance peace and security. The phenomenon of women’s right has evolved since the beginning of mankind and it has been perceived and tackled using different approaches in different centuries and civilizations. Despite the global attention given to this very crucial topic by world movements such as the United Nations Organization, it remains a point of concern to the world. This issue is currently being debated and talked about over the media, women’s conferences, women and development programmes as well as women empowerment forums. Despite the fact that much has been done in various women’s conferences starting from the 1848 women's rights convention of Seneca Falls, New York to the 1850 National Women's Rights Convention of Worcester, to the 1869 National Woman Suffrage Association and the recent 20th and 21st century conferences of Beijing, Nairobi, Ougadougou, just to name a few little has been achieved to secure the rights of women.

The problem of women’s rights basically originates from the roles and responsibilities men and women handle in basic issues of live such as legislation, land, education, inheritance, healthcare, reproduction, culture and tradition, decision-making, employment, political positions, moral codes etc. Also, global women’s rights contradict local rights in many societies.  I grew up in a society where women’s right abuses manifest themselves through actions like domestic violence, discrimination, female genital mutilation, slavery, forced prostitution, forced or early childhood marriages, forced abortion, restricted freedom of movement, forceful seizure of property from widows and orphans, sexual harassment, breast ironing, taboos inflicted on women by customs and traditions especially when their spouse is dead and even infanticides. 

What makes the women’s right problem very challenging to address is the fact that it is multifaceted. Abuse on women’s right is not just male chauvinism over women as many have initially believed. Men, women, customs and traditions as well as societal demands contribute to women’s rights abuses. This is what makes women’s rights abuse complicated to address. Female genital mutilation and breast ironing are examples of women’s abuse on women. This can be quite complex to address.

Although there are more pressing issues of concern to be confronted by policy makers, I think close attention should be paid to this particular issue, first of all because women’s rights are human rights too and although women are vulnerable, if given a chance, they can produce outstanding results and can also play the part of good leadership in any given society. Every woman has a dream and a vision and even potentials to provide something unique and beneficial to the society in which she belongs for the sake of peace. But most of these dreams never come to reality due to the above mentioned factors. It is so unfortunate that some societies have so intimidated their women such that many are not even conscious of the fact that they have rights; they do not know that they can be independent, responsible and also become leaders to build peace. This is why the world has the responsibility of creating this awareness in them and connecting women with mentors so that many will not carry these great potentials to their graves.  Also, structures set up to address women’s rights and their wellbeing is given less attention.  An ignorant woman produces ignorant citizens and this could likely lead to the building of insecure groups or societies out of ignorance. We know of course that when purpose is not known, abuse is inevitable. The United States Office of Global Women’s Issues has opted to facilitate this fight for women’s right by promoting stability, peace, and development through empowering women politically, socially, and economically around the world. The US secretary of state John Kerry stated that, "No country can get ahead if it leaves half of its people behind talking about women. Let’s carry on with our women for a better future for sustainable development. This is why the United States believes gender equality is critical to shared goals of prosperity, stability, and peace, reason why investing in women and girls worldwide is critical” When women and girls are empowered, educated, and equipped to contribute to their societies, their families and countries are more likely to prosper, and be more stable and secure. The efforts of policy makers to make peace are more sustainable when women have a say in how societies recover and move forward from conflict. Women’s progress is human progress. Genderising Leadership Role will foster Sustainable Development in every nation, reduce violence  because women are good negotiators and good peace-builders. Women in most nations have been left out in decision making. This is a big problem that exists at the level of decision making in particular especially in Africa.  Equal opportunities policies are not given to men and women and this hinders peace and sustainable development. I have been interacting with stakeholders at different levels in my humanitarian work but I have realized that very few women are occupying the post of ministers, presidents and they are not fully involved like men in policy making. The improvement on the number of women just like men in all institutions   of a given country will give room for women to participate in conflict management, peace-building processes, decision making, dissemination of the rightful information and implementation of policies at all levels to foster sustainable development. This write up is geared towards the recommendation of gender policy to fight against gender base violence, enhance gender leadership role in peace and security. According to the United Nations, before the Second World War, 90 per cent of casualties in conflicts were combatants. Today, the majority of casualties are civilians, especially women and children. Not only are their needs ignored during times of conflict, but women are often excluded from efforts to make and keep the peace – despite representing half the population.

The continued under-representation of women in peace processes, the lack of institutional arrangements to protect women and the widespread use of sexual- and gender-based violence as a tactic of war, remain major impediments to building sustainable peace.

The UN Security Council called on the international community to take action to address these issues through UNSCR 1325, adopted on 31 October 2000, which was followed by seven additional Resolutions (1820, 1888, 1889, 1960, 2106, 2122 and 2422). However issues can only be addressed by people who value all human beings and these entails building of women’s capacity to take action as required remedying the situation at hand in Africa and the world at large. The best way forward to foster the achievement of positive outcomes in gender issues, women’s rights and fight against violence is taking into account in every engagement gender equality as an objective, mainstreaming gender as a strategy, integrating a gender perspective as a method and gender analysis as a tool.



This story was submitted in response to A World Free of Violence.

Comments 10

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Jill Langhus
Jan 05
Jan 05

Hi Loveline,

How are you doing? Thanks for sharing your compelling post about how to make the world free of violence. I totally agree that it's a huge issue when women in some regions of the world don't even realize they have rights and also that women are still very under-represented in a lot of political arenas where decisions/laws/policies are being made. I'm curious what you meant by "We know of course that when purpose is not known, abuse is inevitable." Can you clarify? Are you saying that if a girl or woman doesn't have a perceived purpose that abuse is then inevitable? I hope not:(

I hope you're having a great day. Good luck with your story submission.

Thanks Jill,
I am doing great.
Just to comment on your point about purpose and abuse.
We were born as free human beings with equal rights to the world but what we are experiencing as women is no more on a balance scale. The abuses on women are unjust.
Therefore the world needs to understand the power, purpose that a women carry in order to bring positive changes to end violence. women have a role to play and the world has its own role to play too. It takes empowerment and self determination for a woman to run away from the abuses. Please check my previous statement before that statement too hope it helps.

Jill Langhus
Jan 04
Jan 04

You're welcome:-)

Great to hear!

Thanks for clarifying what you meant. I'm glad I misunderstood...phew:-)

Have a good one, dear!

Thanks Jill,
Have a great day

Jill Langhus
Jan 05
Jan 05

You're welcome:-) You, too!!!

Hannah B
Jan 03
Jan 03

Thank you for your great post!
I am curious to know how you perceive that these issues are addressed in Cameroon versus other countries - are there groups there who are working to include women in peace processes?
I look forward to reading more from you!

Thank you Hannah for your comment and here is my response.
Cameroon has ratified many international documents which protect women such as the Affirmation and attachment to the fundamental freedoms enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Charter of United Nations, the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights ratified by Cameroon on June 20 1989, and all duly ratified international conventions; International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights entered into force in 3rd January 1976.
On 23 August 1994 Cameroon ratified the “Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women New York, 18 December 1979 (CEDAW)”
Cameroon has made key progresses towards promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment through national Ministry of Women Empowerment.
Inspite all the efforts the challenges of gender issues, gender base violence, women rights abuse are still a living experience.
My proposals
First an inclusive dialogue to dig into the political crises situation ongoing
The advancement of human dignity and equality for all human beings in Cameroon without any discrimination is the primary responsibility of the government and individual support towards this. State responsibility to protect the citizens and most especially women will lead to well-being of women when it comes to social economic and cultural rights.
Government Actions to improve on the wellbeing of women and uphold the rights of women will be promoted through government enactment of laws that are punishable to perpetrators who go against the rights of women in Cameroon and other countries too.
Government should enact a quota law to increase women’s representation in decision making institutions.
Take appropriate measures to combat violence against women including domestic violence and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice. Strengthen the operational and institutional capacity of institutions to combat female genital mutilation. Support indigenous people on their sensitization efforts on the negative effects on early marriage
Women ability and determination to grasp space for themselves is also part of the deal in order for them to be heard and listen to. Education remains the most powerful medium to empower women and girls with the knowledge, skills, self-esteem to enable them enjoy their rights and participate in developmental projects of Cameroon. There should be a tracking mechanism of girls who are not in schools and schemes should be put in place to support girls who cannot support secondary and university education. The civil society organizations should advocate more at the rural areas where women’s rights are abused and violated the most based on cultural norms. This will eradicate the breast ironing, isolation during menstruation in some communities, female genital mutilation etc. Above all there should be an enactment of law regarding any form of abuse suffered by women in Cameroon.
Cameroon and UN women
In August 2017, Cameroon adopted its first ever national action plan for UN Resolution 1325 (NAP) on women, peace and security. The vision of the plan of action is aligned with that of the country: “Cameroon, an emerging, democratic country which is united in its diversity”. The strategic objectives of the 1325 NAP is : “ By 2020, the commitments and indebtedness of Cameroon towards women, peace and security are realized through, (a) the leadership and participation of women in the process of prevention and management of conflict and post-conflict situations, to construct peace and social cohesion, (b) the scrupulous observation of international humanitarian law and legal instruments for the protection of the rights of women and girls against sexual violence and gender based violence during periods of armed conflict, (c) a better integration of the gender dimension in emergency aid, during reconstruction in the course of, and after, armed conflicts as well as in the management of the past, (d) the strengthening of institutional mechanisms and the collection of quantitative and qualitative data on the consideration of gender in the domains of peace, security prevention and Resolution of conflicts.
Talking about women in peace process
Peace process is a whole long process that can last for years and worth mentioning that there must be an analysis of the conflict, to get the root causes, actors involved so as to know which conflict tools to be used in transforming the actors and the conflict as well as negotiating and mediating. This will then enhance the process to stay on motion. I know of Miriam Coronel Ferrer of Philippines, Tzipi Livni of Israel who have served as chief negotiators and only one woman Coronel Ferrer of Philippines who has ever signed a final Peace accord as chief negotiator. My wish is that more women should be involved in peace processes and I am looking forward to that in my own effort through community Health for Peace and development (COHPED Cameroon) in collaboration with other stakeholders, working hard to build a network of such women. There are a lot of NGOs on ground mobilizing women and building their capacities as well. We also have women traditional councils where women resolve conflicts and these are grey areas. However looking at what is on ground in Cameroon a lot has to be done through CSO and NGOs to get women on board and there is a women call for dialogue and demand for peace.
My thinking on this is that there should be a department of women for peace process in every country in order to get more women on board when need arises. These is not only going to be a chance but creating space for active participation, contributing and signing by women. Above all for me as seen in my previous article, the best way forward to foster the achievement of positive outcomes in gender issues, women’s rights and fight against violence is taking into account in every engagement gender equality as an objective, mainstreaming gender as a strategy, integrating a gender perspective as a method and gender analysis as a tool.

Hannah I know you have lived in Cameroon before and will have some contributions and insights to put forward and even for other countries. Hope I have tried to give my views on how some of the issues can be addressed. Thanks

May 13
May 13


Raquel Daniel
Jun 18
Jun 18

Thank you for sharing your story!

Sumera Reshi
Aug 17
Aug 17

I believe silence is no option for any problem in the world, so I would love to speak out loud against crimes against women & humiliation of youth in contested lands. This is what I have observed in Kashmir.