Environment: Thousands petition government for policy on Women’s rights

By Bakah Derick 

A petition with over 2500 signatures from grassroots women on policy consideration and support in the promotion of women’s socio-economic and environmental rights has been handed to government in Bamenda.
 The petition coordinated by the Cameroon Gender and Environment Watch (CAMGEW) was handed to the North West Regional Delegate for Environment, Protection of Nature and Sustainable Development on Tuesday 12 July 2022 in Bamenda. 

The Regional Delegate, Mue Denis Kpue received the petition from the Director Wirsiy Emmanuel Binyuy and Sevidzem Ernestine Leikeli Women Empowerment and Environment officer all from CAMGEW at his up station office with the hope of it reaching Yaounde soonest. 

Speaking prior to handing over the petition, the Director of CAMGEW stated that the petition is a result of other activities and a “round table discussions that CAMGEW have held in Bamenda since January 2022 to promote women inclusion in social, environmental and economic development.” This holistic approach he added “had remarkable impacts with local women seeking fair consideration of their efforts especially in policy support and actions to promote their socio-economic and environmental rights.” 
The over 2500 signatures also comes alone side views expressed on the internet.  
“We thank the Delegate of the Ministry of Environment, Protection of Nature and Sustainable Development for the North West Region for granting us this audience to present to the administration, 57 online signatures representing 57 organizations in Cameroon and beyond, 2610 signatures gathered in off-line petition forms from North West Region representing men, women, youths and indigenous communities, 42. 336 likes on CAMGEW Facebook page supporting women’s socio-economic and environmental rights, Share with the administration the Women’s Environmental Rights poster which also includes actions that can enable these rights to flourish in our Region and nationwide” Wirsiy Emmanuel Said 

The many signatures and likes according to CANGEW represent the willingness and commitment of women and girls in the North West Region of Cameroon especially from the Kilum-Ijim Forest area to be part of environmental action. 
The project lead, Sevidzem Ernestine told this reporter that several challenges were faced in the gathering of signatures amongst them the differentiation of Gender Equality (SDG 5) and Climate Action (SDG 13) by the grassroots and access to internet which inspired the offline petition amongst others. 

The Director of the Women’s empowerment center in Oku subdivision, Bui Division of the North West who accompanied the CAMGEW team for the handing of the petition used the event to emphasise on the role of women in environmental protect. According to Messi Gladys, respect for women’s rights is respect for human rights. While expressing satisfaction with the work done by CAMGEW,  she insisted that women must be considered in environment protection because they can be major beneficiaries of a protected environment through the sale of fruits, vegetables, animals as well as can effectively take part in the protect through the management of plastics and other waste which they use on daily bases. 
While handing over the petition in a booklet format, CAMGWE also hand the Women’s environment Rights Porter which outlines actions to promote women’s environmental rights. The poster recommends community sensitization, freedom from discrimination, land ownership, clean and enough water, environmental justice, basic environmental services, know your rights, supporting each other amongst others. 

The institution believes that “these thousands of voices will be heard and our most respected office will carry forward this message to the national level. We look forward to that nearest future when we all will celebrate the outcome of this event.” 

“CAMGEW promotes inclusive forest regeneration which as of 2021 has planted 100446 trees to regenerate the forest. Women take part in seed collection, tree nursery development, tree planting, forest regeneration and bushfire prevention. Over 2000 women have been trained to benefit from non-timber forest products especially in honey and medicinal plants value chain. This reduced bushfire incidences, created jobs, increased income and motivated women to take part in forest conservation.  Women in the kilum-Ijim forest also carryout farming along the peripheries of the forest. Women therefore have a strong motivation to conserve biodiversity and the environment. Women can be key actors in ensuring a return to more sustainable forest and land use and conserve the environment.” Wirsiy Emmanuel told this reporter 

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