Thirty-six (36) women have lost their lives to gender-based violence (GBV) in Cameroon this year, said Minister of Women's Empowerment (Minproff) Marie-Thérèse Abena Ondoa while speaking to the press on November 27. This alarming figure, likely representing only reported cases, has prompted the ministry to draft a preliminary bill against GBV and advocate for enhanced support for victims.
Cameroon is not alone in facing this grave issue. UN Women, recognizing the prevalence of GBV in Central Africa, seized the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on November 25 to raise the alarm. A study by the Network of Local Elected Women of Africa cited by UN Women revealed that six out of nine women, or 65% of the female population, have been subjected to GBV in the region. The global situation is equally concerning.
In response, UN Women has launched a 16-day global campaign against violence against women and girls, running from November 25 to December 10. Marie-Thérèse Abena Ondoa officially launched the campaign in Cameroon this week, emphasizing the need for heightened awareness.
"This campaign aims to draw the attention of all stakeholders to the multiple forms of mistreatment and abuse of which women and girls are victims in social, professional, family, community, and social circles," said Marie-Thérèse Abena Ondoa.
Complementing the government's initiative, civil society organizations, supported by the French Embassy in Cameroon, have mobilized influential figures to advocate for change. Writer Djaïli Amadou Amal, winner of the 2020 Prix Goncourt des lycéens, openly shares her personal experience of GBV, having been forced into marriage at the age of 17. She has become a vocal proponent of a # MeToo movement in Cameroon to bring about positive change.
Michel Ange Nga