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Longer, analytical article.  Role of women in economic development

Summary & Comment: The author shares reflections on the role of women in African societies, and suggests alternatives that would enhance the lives of all. AB

Author: Njeke Joshua Egbe, Buea Date Written: 15 February 2010
Primary Category: Gender Document Origin: AfricaFiles
Secondary Category: Economic Justice Source URL: http://www.africafiles.org
Key Words: Cameroon, women, food crops,

African Charter Article #5: Everyone shall have the right to dignity and legal status; all forms of exploitation, slavery, and torture are prohibited. (Click for full text...)

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Women’s role in economic development


On the 8th of March this year 2010, Cameroonian women will be celebrating their International Day of the Woman. This is to show how women are supposed to be a powerful force to reckon with, but instead they are relegated to backwardness due to cultural affiliations. Cameroonian women have followed the foot prints of a scholar called Esther Boserup who, in her book in 1970, captioned: Women’s Role in Economic Development, laid down some inventories in some countries within Africa.
The author made it clear that women are contributing immensely towards the subsistence of both the family, and the entire society in their various activities. Therefore, women can be good organizers if given the opportunity to organize things. Through this awareness there have been some measures of encouragement towards women's development-from the international and national governments. Women in Cameroon and in Africa are now encouraged to study at high levels, participate in politics and join in various activities which were previously predominantly for males in some societies. Women like Mrs. Sally Lyonga have already started leading the way for others to follow.

Women are hard working, as I found out from documentation where geographers documented the work of African women and the importance of African women as farmers and resource managers. Also, some documentation has been made on African women for their role in providing basic needs for families through food preparation and collecting wood and water, as income generators in craft and community work and agricultural producers in both the subsistence and commercial sectors. This differs from region to region as each region has its own perception towards women.

A good example of the participation of women came up in the 1996 study by the United Nations Organization and the Food and Agricultural Organization. This study discovered that women's contribution to the production of food crops ranged from 1% in Sudan to 80% in the Republic of Congo. Further, women are responsible for 70% in overall food production, 100% food processing, 50% of animal husbandry and 60% of agricultural marketing.

As a student who is 19 years of age, I understood the importance of women's work in African communities and the economy. I became critical of development policies that ignore and under value women. Moreso, I did research which showed how women were disproportionately affected by environmental degradation as deforestation and drought. All these made the work of collecting wood, water and food more difficult.

It is apparent to me that development policies should begin to incorporate these ideas. A “Women in Development” approach must focus on women's productive role with projects that provide technology and training to women. Just as the World Bank incorporates elements of both approaches into programmes that support education, credit, land titles, programmes for women, women's organizations and recognition of women's work must be incorporated into all "development" projects.

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Disclaimer: Opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer(s) and not do necessarily reflect the views of the AfricaFiles' editors and network members. They are included in our material as a reflection of a diversity of views and a variety of issues. Material written specifically for AfricaFiles may be edited for length, clarity or inaccuracies.

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