Featured Storyteller

CAMEROON: Because I Am a Girl

Evelyn Fonkem
Posted June 22, 2017 from Cameroon
Photo © James Emery (CC BY 2.0)

Evelyn Fonkem wants to make life more fair for girls—and she’s getting men and boys to join her.

“My brother must be part of the solution.

A lifetime of gender discrimination begins before I am even born.

Because I am a girl, I am more likely to be killed in my mother's womb.

Because I am a girl, my room is painted pink while my brother's room is painted blue.

After I am born, the discrimination continues.

Because I am a girl, I am expected to spend an extra three quarters of an hour more on domestic chores and take care of my junior siblings. Meanwhile, my brother sits in his room playing video games and watching movies.

Because I am a girl, my brother orders me to prepare food for him. To him, my place is in the kitchen.

Because I am a girl, my classmates usually scorn me and laugh at me when my uniform is stained with blood due to menstruation. No one provides me withessentials like sanitary pads. This causes me to miss classes and exams until my period is over.

Because I am a girl, I am more likely to be harmed by traditional practices throughout my life—practices like child marriage, female genital mutilation, andbreast ironing. If I start a business, no one will extend credit to me. If I am widowed, I must go through isolating widowhood rites.

Because I am a girl, I was refused my own share of my father's land. My father says, "I will share my landed property only to my sons."

Because I am a girl, the media portrays me as the weaker sex, a prostitute, or a sex object. I am portrayed as the one who takes care of the house, while my brother is portrayed as the money provider.

Because I am a girl, I grew up with gender inequality that has made me the gender activist I am today.

Today, I bring communities together to train them on gender norms and equity so that girls can grow up with the same opportunities as their brothers.

I have learned through this work that we cannot underestimate the role of men and boys as gender advocates. My brother must be part of the solution. When we train men and boys—and when we work with traditional rulers, who are custodians of discriminatory laws against women—change is possible.

In our trainings, men participate in dramas and live debates to demonstrate the importance of gender equality. This approach is changing the mindsets of men in my community.

As a result, I am seeing men become whistle blowers against perpetrators of gender-based violence. I am now seeing men sharing their property with their female children; some local chiefs in communities I have worked in are revising harmful policies and laws that are discriminatory to women and girls; I am seeing men engaged in domestic chores and morewomen included as members of the traditional councils. I see men fighting for the rights of women and girls.

We need to continue challenging boys and men to join us and champion women's leadership. We need to keep working until the next generation can say, “Because I am a girl, I have every chance to achieve my dreams.”


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Comments 47

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Sophie Ngassa
Jun 22, 2017
Jun 22, 2017

Dear Evelyn, thanks for sharing your very inspiring story. It is very exciting and touching.Yes, because we are girls.... the trouble is too much.Together we will keep working to make a change dear.

Evelyn Fonkem
Jun 23, 2017
Jun 23, 2017

Thanks so much Aunty Sophie for the message.You are one of those who are creating social impacts in the lives of girls.I greatly believe that together, change is possible.

DESTINE
Jun 23, 2017
Jun 23, 2017

TANTINE EVELYN je t'en courage vraiment,je t'en prie de continuer te bon histoire avec nous,le fille comme moi t'en courage beaucoup.je suis toucher

Evelyn Fonkem
Jun 23, 2017
Jun 23, 2017

Thank you so much Destine for your encouragement.As an individual,you can start changing beliefs about girls from your home,the to the community.

nessa s
Jun 24, 2017
Jun 24, 2017

Well done Evelyn - you are so right. Everywhere around the world being a girl means we have a set of rules and regulations we are supposed to follow, but in some countries much more than others.

I wish you all the success possible!

Nessa x 

Evelyn Fonkem
Jun 24, 2017
Jun 24, 2017

Thanks Nessa for the encouragement.I greatly agree with you that discrimation against girls varies from one country to another.

Veronica Ndi Ngum
Jun 26, 2017
Jun 26, 2017

Well done  Evelyn, we need more gender activist like you in our community today so that the voices of women can be head far and wide.

Evelyn Fonkem
Jun 27, 2017
Jun 27, 2017

Thanks Veronica for the encouragement.

iyamail
Jun 27, 2017
Jun 27, 2017

Great write up my sister, we need to stand together as girls to get the world to embrace that even though we are girls, we are also very capable.

Thanks for your good work and plenty of encouragment!

Iya

A needlepoint change in direction today is worth a grand arc of change in the future!

Matilda Moyo
Jun 27, 2017
Jun 27, 2017

Wow Evelyn, I'm glad you've turned the situation around and that you're using your experience to make a difference and empower girls and women in your society. It takes a great deal of strength to do that. You truly are an inspiration and your well-written article is motivating.

I believe that our individual actions, when combined, make a huge difference and contribute towards making the world a better place. Thanks for the encouragement and may you continue to impact society.

Matilda

Sophia Atadana
Jun 27, 2017
Jun 27, 2017

Hi Evelyn, Thanks for sharing that inspiring story. Yes It is really time we thought society that there is nothing like gender roles and that they are all skills that both girls and boys and learn. Wish you all the best

Evelyn Fonkem
Jun 28, 2017
Jun 28, 2017

Thanks so much Iya,Adisatu and Maltilda for your words of encouragement.

carol nyaga
Jul 03, 2017
Jul 03, 2017

Hae Evelyn. Thenk so much .I love your story so touching and an encouraging one

Evelyn Fonkem
Jul 14, 2017
Jul 14, 2017

Thanks Carol

Mbithi
Jul 03, 2017
Jul 03, 2017

I love your story Evelyn..very inspiring

Evelyn Fonkem
Jul 03, 2017
Jul 03, 2017

Thanks so much Carol and Mbithi for the encouragement....much love

AbigayleMutua
Jul 03, 2017
Jul 03, 2017

this is a story that needs to be told all over the world. the girl child cannot take a back seat. thank you for being the mouth piece. love the story

Evelyn Fonkem
Jul 03, 2017
Jul 03, 2017

Thank You Abigael

Anne McCaw
Jul 03, 2017
Jul 03, 2017

Evelyn, I was so moved by your story and your writing. I am moved by what you have experienced and the amazing change you are creating. It's no small thing to challenge and encourage generations to rethink what they have been taught and have lived for so long. You are making a new world of equality possible.

Evelyn Fonkem
Jul 05, 2017
Jul 05, 2017

Thanks so much Annie.I believe change is possible

Anita Kiddu Muhanguzi
Jul 10, 2017
Jul 10, 2017

Dear Evelyn,

Thank you so much for sharing your story. We need to teach our boys and the men in our lives and in our communities about the importance of promoting the rights of girls and women. Growing up we faced many challenges as girls simply because we were born girls but that has to change because we want the stereotypes about girls to stop. Girls should be given a chance to succeed in life and be better women and mothers. 

Thank you my dear for sharing and may you continue to transform lives in your community and in your country. 

Stay blessed my dear. 

Evelyn Fonkem
Jul 14, 2017
Jul 14, 2017

Thanks Anita.You are right, we need to teach our male children from infancy about the rights of girls

Evelyn Fonkem
Jul 14, 2017
Jul 14, 2017

Thanks Anita.You are right, we need to teach our male children from infancy about the rights of girls

Della Rae
Jul 13, 2017
Jul 13, 2017

Deep appreciation for your activism. Your writing is beautiful. Thank you! Many blessings in return,

D

Evelyn Fonkem
Jul 14, 2017
Jul 14, 2017

Thanks Della

Olutosin
Jul 13, 2017
Jul 13, 2017

My sis, this is so inspiring. Because I am a girl, I can rule the world Yayyyy

Evelyn Fonkem
Jul 14, 2017
Jul 14, 2017

Thanks Olutosin for the encouragement

Olutosin
Jul 14, 2017
Jul 14, 2017

You are welcome dear sister

Alex DeCino
Jul 13, 2017
Jul 13, 2017

Your story sounds so trying, but it is so great that you have taken your life experience and are using it to make a difference!  Thank you for sharing!

Evelyn Fonkem
Jul 14, 2017
Jul 14, 2017

Thanks Alex for your support

Mahnaz Harrison
Jul 13, 2017
Jul 13, 2017

dear Evelyn,

You are brave and courageous to take the approach you have taken.  Thank you,

Evelyn Fonkem
Jul 14, 2017
Jul 14, 2017

Thanks Mahnaz

Karolina Lobrow
Jul 13, 2017
Jul 13, 2017

Dear Evelyn, you're writing has touched my heart. I truly believe that the men and boys in our lives have so much to gain themselves by fighting for gender equality. It changes the lives of women, but it also changes the lives of men. Thank you for your activism and your voice. 

Evelyn Fonkem
Jul 14, 2017
Jul 14, 2017

Thank you Carolina for your support.

Clodine Mbuli Shei
Jul 14, 2017
Jul 14, 2017

Hi Sister,

Thank you for this writing. There was no better way to end this day than reading this beautiful, inspirational, lovely write up. Thank you dearly

Evelyn Fonkem
Jul 15, 2017
Jul 15, 2017

Thanks Clodine

Rachael Cassells
Jul 20, 2017
Jul 20, 2017

Hello Evelyn! I would love to forward an invitation to you for an event I am helping to organize. Can you please let me know your best email address? You can email me at events@gfla.org Thank you! Rachael Cassells

Evelyn Fonkem
Jul 20, 2017
Jul 20, 2017

Thanks Rachael for connecting with me.I will be be happy to be part of your event.I will send you a message.

GeorgeNEBA
Jul 27, 2017
Jul 27, 2017

This is a superp epistle, and I'm so delighted to learn that you took the challenge of your past experience as an opportunity - rather an obstacle - to transform and heal the land.

We, the men can't afford to be indifferent in this struggle. And as long as we stand up as one voice, this enigma, of violence against women and girls will not withstand the momentum of our common resolve to dislodge it from our midst.

For, as a T.E.A.M, Together Everyone Achieves More!!!

Thank you.

Awah Francisca Mbuli
Oct 12, 2017
Oct 12, 2017

Dearest Eve,

You are doing a great JOb.

Together we will fight this social ill.

All my Best,

Francisca Awah

Evelyn Fonkem
Oct 19, 2017
Oct 19, 2017

Thnaks Francisca

Evelyn Fonkem
Oct 19, 2017
Oct 19, 2017

Thnaks Francisca

kitty
May 06, 2018
May 06, 2018

Evelyn
Thank you so much for challenging the roles set for us by society. Keep on being amazing!!
-K

Evelyn Fonkem
May 07, 2018
May 07, 2018

Thank you Kitty

annelise
Jun 08, 2018
Jun 08, 2018

what you said in your story is true we do need to educate boys that have sister and not tell them their place is not in the kitchen. It is having fun and being free.

Evelyn Fonkem
Jun 09, 2018
Jun 09, 2018

Thanks Annelise

annelise
Jun 09, 2018
Jun 09, 2018

:)