751.1 Rethinking existing strategies for promoting women's land rights in Cameroon: Building gender capacity for male actors

Saturday, August 4, 2012: 2:30 PM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Lotsmart FONJONG , Women and Gender Studies, University of Buea, Buea, Cameroon
Irene SAMA-LANG , Law, University of Buea, Buea, Cameroon
Rethinking Existing Strategies for Promoting Women’s Land Rights in Cameroon: Building Gender Capacity for Male Actors

                                                                                                                                                   Lotsmart Fonjong and Irene Sama-Lang (university of Buea, Cameroon)

The past years have seen efforts by women’s rights agencies, groups and feminist activists to clamor for women’s rights including their rights to land in developing countries. While efforts in the domain of land rights have yielded some positive results in the form of institutional reforms that advocate for gender equality, field realities are far from being encouraging. Women do not still have equal rights and power over land like their male counterparts. Women’s land rights thus remain on papers (international instruments, constitutions, land laws, etc) most of which are far or disconnected from the experiences of the rural women. Based on recent studies from Cameroon, this paper argues that legal provisions that advocated for gender equality in land rights are sometimes enacted by institutions and men who neither believe nor understand the need for gender equality. This situation, the paper argues, accounts for the gap noticed between land reforms and field realities. It submits that the main problem lies with the fact that a disproportionate attention is paid on women (building the gender capacity of women to be aware and advocate for their rights) than on men in patriarchal societies who though, pose a threat to women’s rights, might not necessarily be aware for their actions.  We argue strongly in this paper that strategies for promoting women’s land rights must focus on men and pay equal attention to building the gender capacity of male agencies in understanding and enforcing women’s land rights and gender equalities.

Keywords: gender discrimination, women’s rights, gender capacity building, male agency, customs/statutes, Cameroon