Poverty is a major contributing factor to violence against women world wide. In Cameroon, many women are trapped in abusive situations but cannot stand up for themselves because they depend solely on their abusers for livelihood. If we must truly liberate women from the pangs of violence, financial empowerment must be our prime weapon.
Gender Danger has done extensive work in sensitizing women in the North West Region of Cameroon about cultural practices that violate their rights. We have come to realize that women have the will to stand up against such practices but are paralyzed by the fear of being ostracized by their communities and left to fend for themselves. When a woman is sure of providing food, shelter and clothing for herself and her children, her level of tolerance to violence drops significantly and she gains more respect from society.
It is in this light thatfive survivors of domestic violence from the town of Bamenda in the North West region of Cameroon have benefitted from Gender Danger`s Pilot Economic Empowerment Program. These women have been provided with micro-loans to the tune of50.000FCFA (100$)each as start ups for small businesses which will help themgradually re-gain financial stability. The beneficiaries have been matched with mentors who provide the loans and maintain a nurturing relationship through constant communication via e mail, phone and Skype. Gender Danger`s team of volunteers have ensured that these women get the follow -up and encouragement and resourcesthey need to make their dreams come true. They are expected to re-fund their loans in a period of three months. Those who make prompt refunds will be given another chance to expand their businesses with the same amount.Besides working towards Economic stability they are provided group therapy forthnightly ,they have a safe space where they can share their stories and empower one another.
We now have a restaurant operator, a dealer in kitchen equipment, a hair dresser, a dealer in food stuff, and an interior designer.
As time goes by, we will explore new ideas to make the program better,the number of survivors reached will increase and before you know it, one by one together weshall together deliver a whole community of women from the clutches of poverty and violence.