Towards an integrated approach for empowering adolescent girls in Cameroon

According to UNICEF,  State of the World’s Children 2015, Cameroon is ranked 14 on the International scale for child marriage prevalence. Child marriage is most prevalent and in rural areas of Cameroon, where poverty, traditions, ignorance of the law, and illiteracy are at its peak. These include traditional, religious and cultural practices which continue to discriminate against women and girls.

Also, the prevailing poverty in rural communities in Cameroon makes the girl the only realistic potential source of income to parents. They thus arrange marriages for these girls and charge a bride price that will enable them buy food, and other household commodities. This may also be to pay back money borrowed by a parent who cannot repay and so gives the daughter in lieu of payment.

Although the government of Cameroon has taken the political will and is still working out important approaches to ending child early marriage, Sustain Cameroon urges that it will be more resourceful to invest in making educational systems more accessible, affordable, conducive, and above all inclusive to effectively fight against forced marriages.

The educational system in rural areas is a great push factor for early marriages in Cameroon. Gender based violence, poor infrastructure and facilities, gender bias teaching material; entrenched cultural practices which discourage parents from fully investing on the education of women, and a non-conducive learning environment are all motivating factors for girls to drop out of school. Most adolescent young girls in these rural communities consider marriage as the only option when they drop out of school. Thus, in rural communities school institutions should be made accessible, efficient and friendly to girls.

Young married girls are more often than not victims of Vesico Vaginal Fistula (VVF).  While, they are also exposed to psychosocial and health effects such as the hazards of contracting HIV/AIDS and STIs from their older husbands and above all to unwanted pregnancies, Premature births, and other pregnancy-related complications which at times take away the lives of these young girls.

The project shall:

  • Use true life stories to educate potential victims on the dangers of forced child marriages and empower them to manage pressure for forced marriages.
  • Provide paralegal assistance to victims wishing to seek protection from forced marriages by the law.
  • Offer vocational training to victims of child marriages whose marriages have broken down or those wishing to break away from such marriages.
  • Integrate at-risk girls and those who have dropped out of school back into the education system.
  • Prevent child marriage and further early pregnancies by keeping these girls in school and providing them with support to gain their independence.
  • Advocate and liaise with traditional authorities to enact local legislation against forced child marriages.
  • Create community financial support schemes to help the girls reintegrate, stay in school and graduate.

Sustain Cameroon just qualified for GlobalGiving and was given a spot to fundraise to lead activities towards eliminating child marriages in Cameroon. We rely on your mandate; DONATE to our project on GlobalGiving.

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