Voters’ Registration: Women Yet To Emerge

They represent more than 50  per cent of the population but lag behind men in voters’ registration

 

Women who are often at the forefront of political  manifestations such as rallies, reception of important personalities, march past during National Day festivities and animation, paradoxically have not taken the same lead in voters registration.

Statistics published by  Elections Cameroon (ELECAM)  for the 2017  period of the revision of electoral registers that ended on August 31, 2017,  indicate that men dominated the registration operation in all the regions of the country. Out  of the total number of new registered voters in 2017 which stands at 403, 069, there are 243,915 men and only 159, 154 women recording a difference of 84,761 voters. The highest number of women have registered in the Centre Region. Indeed, out of the total  number of 113,603 new voters  in 2017, there are 46,249 women and 67,354 men still registering a difference of 21,105 in favour of men. It is only in the North West and West Regions where the gap between men and women in terms of registration  of new voters in 2017 is not very wide.  In the North West Region for instance, out of the 24, 668 new registered voters for 2017, there are 11,390 men and 11, 278 women registering a difference of 2112 in favour of men.

The consistent differences between men and women in terms of registration into the electoral registers call for the revision of strategies  which has to start with a proper diagnosis of the problems specific to women.  This stage will lead to the adoption  of appropriate methods to enable more women register when the voters registered will be reopened in 2018 up to the calling of  electors to the polls when the registration operation will end.

 

 Prof. Justine Diffo Tchunkam: “Cultural Barriers And Stereotypes Prevent Women”

 Head of Steering Committee of Women in Democracy

 

Statistics from the 2017 electoral list of Elecam show that in all the ten regions of the country, more men were registered than women. What could possibly explain this low registration by women?    

     

The situation you are raising seems to be general in most African countries and we humbly think it maybe the result of some wrong and established thoughts that the normal and natural sphere of women is the private sphere, which is their family. This assertion brings them to perceive social, civic and finally political engagement and political involvement even through electoral process, as an issue that concern only men. In fact, cultural barriers and stereotypes are responsible for the less and low political involvement of women in the electoral process, notwithstanding the fact that registration and voting are amongst the fundamental rights of all citizens. Unfortunately, these wrong ideas seem to be so strong that we need to continue sensitizing and increasing ways of mobilisation of the concerned social category in order to enhance the massive participation of women and girls in voting age early in 2018.

What are some of the actions undertaken by your organisation to encourage more women to get involved in elections?   

                       

More Women in Politics with the support of the European Union through « Women in Democracy program », initiated since 2016 many actions aimed at  mobilizing a critical number of electors and especially women and girls of voting age, to register on the electoral list, in the 7 regions covered by the program. The main strategy in this particular case is outreach sensitization through young volunteers of democracy that we trained to reach and mobilise citizens in their communities through the media, internet and social networks. We also reach our target through public conferences, debates focused on the subject. The program also supports financially the deliverance of National Identity Cards to those in the rural areas who are unable to afford the new ID.

What explains the fact that very few women occupy elected positions such as Mayors, MPs in the country?     

 

Firstly, there are only around 8 percent leading councils as Mayors, 21 percent at the Senate and 31 percent at the National Assembly. The critical situation of today is that of female mayors, and we are struggling at least to maintain the number they are now at the Parliament, after the upcoming election. We think that the fact that the Electoral Code considers gender representation is an issue which is laudable and will be improved upon in the coming years. We are convinced that if we could have an application decree of the electoral code before next elections, women and girls of voting age will feel more confident in the electoral process..  I think women can massively get involved as electors and candidates if their positions in the electoral process are truly explained and clearly protected in a decree. It seems so easy because to build a planet 50/50 by 2030 with UN WOMEN, we need to transform the political will into political decision, especially through affirmative measures and actions.

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