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Cameroon – UN Women’s Gender Road Project

Cameroon – UN Women’s Gender Road Project
Cameroon. Children walk to school in the morning in the town of Yoko.

A 200-kilometre road (124 miles) project stretches between the townships of Batschenga, Ntui and Yoko, in central Cameroon. The road crosses farms, forests, water bodies and pastoral areas that sustain the mostly agrarian economy of nearly 40 villages and three towns.

The road, a basic infrastructure that many countries take for granted, literally shapes the lives and livelihood of the people living along it. It decides whether a small entrepreneur will get her products transported on time, and at what cost, and whether more people will come to a restaurant that another has invested in. It determines what markets a woman farmer can access and how often a working mother can visit her daughter who is studying in the city. The red dirt road, waiting for asphalt, will determine if food, income, job, healthcare, livelihood will come, when, and to whom.

UN Women’s “Gender Road Project”, funded by The Development Bank of Central African States and the Government of Cameroon, is aiming to reach at least 20,000 women by 2020, living in rural communities along this road, to prepare them for a better future and access to bigger markets once the road is built. The project teaches them financial and entrepreneurial skills, improved farming techniques and facilitates their access to public services and land rights.

When public services are inaccessible, it penalizes the poorest of the poor.

An estimated 3,000 children living in communities along the road project do not have birth certificates. Since many women don’t give birth in hospitals, a child doesn’t get immediately registered at birth. Getting a birth certificate later is a long and expensive process. It can take up to a year and cost 60,000 CFA franc (USD 104) per child, which very few can afford.

Without a birth certificate, children cannot sit for the public examinations, graduate from primary school and join secondary or higher education. They also cannot get national identity cards which are required to access other public services. The UN Women Gender Road Project has helped 200 children get their birth certificates within a year, and 155 more are in the process.

The UN Women project has helped 200 children get their birth certificates within a year, and 155 more are in the process.

Odette Bienel, a community worker with the UN Women project, explains that because they didn’t have birth certificates, most girls didn’t go to school or dropped off at the primary level. “This in turn caused a lot of teenage pregnancy and early marriage. We identified how many children needed birth certificates. Then we did advocacy with the different administrative units responsible for issuing a birth certificate—the hospitals, the council and the courts for example—to simplify the process and to reduce the cost. For instance, when a family cannot attend all the public hearings, we negotiated with the authorities to allow the chief of the village to attend them on behalf of the families.”

The local council has agreed to subsidize the cost of getting a certificate and now each parent has to pay only 3,000 CFA franc (USD 5) per child.

Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

Read More: www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2019/3/feature-story-came…
By UN Women Gallery on 2018-12-17 07:12:23

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