Cameroon ― Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women ― Political Participation of
Women ― Jan. 2014

While women make up 51 percent of the population of Cameroon, only 13.5 percent of the members in government are women. Unequal representation and barriers to participating in the political process are significant issues to address in Cameroon. Economic, cultural, educational, and political barriers prevent women from fully participating in politics.

Many Cameroonian women are financially dependent on men and do not have control over their finances or have the economic resources to pursue a political career on their own. Women are underrepresented in both the government and in political parties, and the media bullies politically active women. The low adult literacy rate prevents women from accessing information about the political process, voting, and candidates running for election. Culturally, local and religious customs of strict gender roles are major barriers to women. Recent elections show positive progress toward equality. However, locally and internationally women are grossly underrepresented.

Under Articles 7 and 8 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which Cameroon ratified in 1994, Cameroon agreed to take measures to eliminate discrimination against women in political and public life, including equal voting rights and equal representation in all levels of government, and to eliminate discrimination against women in opportunities to represent Cameroon in an international capacity.

The Advocates compiled a list of questions the CEDAW should consider during its review of Cameroon, and made several recommendations to overcome barriers and facilitate women’s political participation.