On July 6, 2017, U.S. Political-Economic Chief Sara Devlin joined Cameroon’s Minister of Women’s Empowerment and the Family Marie-Therèse Abena Ondoua to launch a meeting of female elected officials and civil society leaders on the theme “Building Bridges – Building Networks” at the Multipurpose Sports Complex in Yaounde. The conference brought together close to two hundred female senators, members of parliament, mayors, and Chief Executive Officers of Civil Society Organizations from across the country to explore avenues for greater participation of Cameroonian women in the decision-making process. Also present were Minister of Posts and Telecommunication Minette Libom Li-Likeng, Minister of State Audit Rose Mbah Acha, Minister of Basic Education Youssouf Hadjidja Alim, Acting Public Affairs Officer Nitza Sola-Rotger and Professor Susanna Wing, Head of the Political Science Department at Haverford College in the United States.
In her presentation, Professor Wing identified common barriers to women’s political participation and outlined the “Women’s Empowerment Framework.” Speaking on behalf of the Ambassador of the United States, Political Economic Chief Sara Devlin told the audience that “countries that give women the opportunity to contribute fully to society and the economy are wealthier, healthier, and more stable.” Minister Abena Ondoua presented the various steps taken by the Government of Cameroon to ensure that women have their place at the decision-making table.
At the end of the day-long deliberations, participants decided to launch a National Women’s Caucus, and elected Mayor Celestine Ketcha Courtes of Bangante to spearhead the effort.
The Yaounde conference was the culmination of three regional events organized by the InterFaith Vision Foundation Cameroon (IVF-Cam) in 2016 thanks to a funding from the U.S. Department of State through the Secretary’s Full Participation Fund.