Cameroon Tribune (Yaoundé)

6 May 2012

Cameroon: Women's Economic Opportunity Index 2012 -Nation Low on the Overall Ranking

Women in Cameroon, according to the Women's Economic Opportunity Index (WEOI) 2012, can still not fully exercise their rights businesses and some employments. The index places Cameroon at the 114th position on the overall rankings table of 128 countries the world over, featuring 30 in a list of 39 Lower Middle Income countries and at the 14th position out of 21 Sub-Saharan Africa countries.

Members of La Pietra Coalition presented the ranking to women of the formal and informal sectors in Douala during a workshop organised by the consulting firm, Cabinet Strategies, in Bali, Douala, on May 3 and 4.

Tunisia comes at the 14th position, followed by Namibia 63, then Egypt at the 80th position. This Index second edition of the Index (first published in June 2010), which shows that more Tunisian women gain economic opportunities than anywhere in Africa, considered for the ranking: labour policy and practice, access to finance, education and training, women's legal and social status and general business environment.

A number of factors affect Cameroon's position: only 10 per cent of employees in the country work with the formal sector, than the majority in the informal sector. Yet the latter sector in was not included for Cameroon. It takes up to 15 days to set up an enterprise, 67 days to obtain an electric metre and 82 days per year is spent to pay tax. Also, there are no investment banks in the country, but commercial banks which don't allow enough time for borrowers to make profit. "Although property rights have slowly begun to expand, women seldom own land, in fact, in most of the region, customary and statutory laws disadvantage women in land ownership; reform-oriented legislation often does little to change these practices," states the report.

Kahbang Edith Walla, Executive Committee member of La Pietra Coalition, told participants at the workshop that the index shows the importance of women as backbone of the economy. On this background, women of the informal sector - petit traders, owners of makeshift restaurants, commercial calls agents, etc - were upgraded in view of their inclusion in the next edition, with the purpose of raising awareness about the importance of the Index. Hear her: "It creates the awareness that not considered by their own country in the economic statistics, women do not figure in the economic strategies that are being developed."

Their work will be forwarded to La Piertra Coalition so that informal sector women can be integrated in the next index, and also used to engage Cameroonian authorities, that is, local governments, ministries concerned and their own associations to improve the situation of women in the informal sector.

WEOI 2012, is a publication of the global index and ranking from the Economist Intelligence Unit commissioned and funded by the Vital Voices Global Partnership and La Pietra Coalition and sponsored by ExxonMobil Corporation.

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