UN Women Cameroon facilitating intergenerational dialogue to promote citizen engagement of young girls and boys in Cameroon.

Date: Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Family photo of participants attending the intergenerational dialogue (left to right) Minister of Youth and Civic Education, Minister of Women Empowerment and the Family, 1st Vice President of the National Assembly, President of ‘Reseau Esperance Jeunese’, Beat Songue Governance Programme Coordinator UN Women and President of National Youth Council. Photo credit; Teclaire Same, UN Women.
Family photo of participants attending the intergenerational dialogue (left to right) Minister of Youth and Civic Education, Minister of Women Empowerment and the Family, 1st Vice President of the National Assembly, President of ‘Reseau Esperance Jeunese’, Beat Songue Governance Programme Coordinator UN Women and President of National Youth Council. Photo credit; Teclaire Same, UN Women.

An intergenerational dialogue ‘gender coffee’ was organized at the National Assembly on Monday, May 14, 2018. This intergenerational dialogue which brought together over 30 youths between the ages of 18 – 32 years drawn from all ten regions of the country, members of national assembly, government representatives and civil society was a forum to debate the obstacles and strategies to promote citizen engagement of Cameroonian youths in prelude of the May 20th National Day celebrations in Cameroon.

Minister of Youth Affairs and Civic Education, Mounouna Foutsou, in his welcome address to the youths lauded the efforts of UN Women for the initiative to organize this intergenerational dialogue which is in line with the constant efforts of the government in actively involve the youths in the national development agenda. “The commitment of the state to involve the youths in nation building is evident in implementation of different policy instruments to promote the civic engagement of young people in the socio-political and economic life of the nation”.

 

Minister Marie-Therese Abena, Minister of Women Empowerment and the Family delivering her speech during the event flanged by Minister of Youth Affairs and Civic Education, Mounouna Foutsou (left) and Hon Etong, 1st Vice President of the National Assembly. Pjoto credit, Teclaire Same, UN Women Cameroon.
Minister Marie-Therese Abena, Minister of Women Empowerment and the Family delivering her speech during the event flanged by Minister of Youth Affairs and Civic Education, Mounouna Foutsou (left) and Hon Etong, 1st Vice President of the National Assembly. Pjoto credit, Teclaire Same, UN Women Cameroon.

Speaking during the opening ceremony Minister Marie-Therese Abena, Minister of Women Empowerment ad the Family (MINPROFF) highlighted some obstacle specific to young girls; “different forms violence against women and girls such as rape and forced marriage are major obstacles effective citizen participation and engagement of young girls. Young girls need respect and motivation from everyone to boast their leadership potential” she added.

 

A cross section of youths and members of the National Assembly attending the intergenerational dialogue. Photo credit, Teclaire Same, UN Women Cameroon.
A cross section of youths and members of the National Assembly attending the intergenerational dialogue. Photo credit, Teclaire Same, UN Women Cameroon./div>

The young girls also regretted that the psychological and emotional violence faced by young girls result in lack of self-confidence, self-worth and inferiority complex with long term impacts on citizen engagement of young girls and eventually women. Several other obstacles affecting citizen engagement of youths including socialization and societal norms, parental domination which prevents auto responsibility of youths, a lack of recognition of the efforts and successes of youths were equally debated during the event.

 

A cross section of youths and members of the National Assembly attending the intergenerational dialogue. Photo credit, Teclaire Same, UN Women Cameroon.
A cross section of youths and members of the National Assembly attending the intergenerational dialogue. Photo credit, Teclaire Same, UN Women Cameroon.

According to Mme Beat Songue, Governance Programme Coordinator of UN Women Cameroon “it is important to involve young girls and boys in nation building because youths make up over 35% of the Cameroonian population of whom 52.26% are girls. It is impossible to attain the SDGs if youths are sidelined. Development planning should integrate the needs of youths in terms training, employment and economic opportunities” Mme Beat added.

Some strategies and recommendations towards improving citizen participation of youths were identified during the dialogue: education and sensitization campaigns to raise awareness of the youths; socio-professional insertion of young girls; youths should define their own goals, be creative and embrace hard work; capitalization of success stories and use of women leaders as role models; and coaching as a evidence for transformative leadership of young girls and young boys.

 

Minister Marie-Therese Abena (MINPROFF) and Minister Mounouna Foutsou (MINJEC) signing the commitment. Photo credit, Teclaire Same, UN Women
Minister Marie-Therese Abena (MINPROFF) and Minister Mounouna Foutsou (MINJEC) signing the commitment. Photo credit, Teclaire Same, UN Women

The intergenerational dialogue was organized in collaboration with the Parliamentarians Youth Network (REJE), Ministry of Youth Affairs and Civic Education (MINJEC) and Ministry of Women Empowerment and the Family (MINPROFF). This event was part of a broader efforts by UN Women to offer leadership training to Cameroonian youths in view of promoting participation of young people in the development process and their involvement in the decision-making process.

At the end of the event participants signed a commitment to support citizen participation of youths.