Cameroon: Constantly Updated Laws to Protect Women

Cameroon's Penal Code and the National Gender Policy Document are some of the tools used by the government to empower women in the country.

Cameroon's legislation is enshrined in a normative framework that contributes to the promotion and protection of women's rights. Although this framework contains many relevant international, regional and national legal instruments, experts from the Ministry of Women's Empowerment and the Family say it does not necessarily guarantee effective enjoyment by women of all their rights. The strides to empower and protect women in Cameroon might be slow, but steady as women in the country, to an extent, can now enjoy certain rights they never dreamt of such as that of owning landed property.

In an excerpt of the Head of State's keynote address in Maroua on October 2, 1997, he said; "In the area of women's empowerment, I commit myself to ensuring the preparation and implementation of the special plan of action for women's empowerment (...). I will make sure that your work is recognized and valued everywhere; I will make sure that you are well represented in all governing bodies of the country. I commit myself to making equality between men and women a reality ... ." These words from the father of the nation have brought women from the dark ages into the limelight with their rights protected and respected. Cameroon's Penal Code and the Gender Policy Document are tools for planning, guiding and ensuring consistency in Government and other stakeholders' actions in favour of gender equality and equity in all sectors of national development.

The government has signed and ratified several International Legal Instruments for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of the Woman in Cameroon. Prominent amongst them are: the Declaration on the Protection of Women and Children in Emergency and Armed Conflict adopted in December 1974, which outlaws all forms of repression, cruel and inhuman treatment of women and children, including imprisonment, torture, shootings, mass arrests, collective punishments. Also the 1957 Convention on Nationality of Married Women, grants the latter the power to take her husband's nationality without losing her own. Furthermore, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), adopted on 18 December 1979 and its Additional Protocol of 6 October 1999 obliges member States such as Cameroon to promote women in all domains: political, legal, economic, social and cultural development.

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