2009 – 2010 Cameroon BRPID Project
Cameroon BRPID Project
Promoting Mbororo Women’s Sexual/Reproductive Health Rights
Cameroon Association of University Women
The situation of Mbororo women is one of major concern as illiteracy runs as high as 97%. Polygamy and early, forced marriages are prevalent among the predominantly Moslem, nomadic population. High infant and maternal mortality rates, high birth rates and large family sizes (average of 7 children per woman) are common. During their productive life, Mbororo women are either permanently gestating or lactating, consequently depending on the men for survival.
CAMAUW members worked with a selected group of Mbororo women leaders to promote women’s and girls’ sexual/reproductive health rights. An initial meeting with CAMAUW gave the Mbororo women the confidence to speak out in the absence of men and break the prevailing “culture of silence”. During this first “sensitization session” CAMAUW used the services of a trained midwife/nurse, who has previously done a lot of counselling work with Moslem women, to run the session. She used the local language and was able to give advice on female hygiene, sexually transmitted diseases, HIV/AIDS, disadvantages of early marriage, the importance of pre-natal clinics, vaccination programmes, and nutrition for pregnant and lactating mothers, post-natal care and family planning. An intense question and answer session followed during which CAMAUW members learnt more about how these women view the outside world and the Mbororo women obtained the answers to questions that they have been too frightened to ask on subjects that they have been prevented from discussing.
20 Mbororo women leaders participated in the first session and these leaders can now pass the newly acquired information on to the women in their community. CAMAUW members are now working on the preparation of training modules for the second phase of the project. The goals are to increase the women’s attendance at health clinics, improve eating habits, encourage more open discussion on sexual issues and women’s issues, enable the Mbororo women to make strategic life choices and increase a willingness to mainstream into society. Longer term goals include a reduced birth rate, more girls in education, higher levels of literacy and a sensitized and less marginalized community.