Mainstreaming Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment in Council Development Plans in the North West and South West Regions of Cameroon


Niying Roger Mbihbiih
Joyce B. Mbongo Endeley


Gender equality and women's empowerment (GEWE) have been identified at the global, regional, national and local levels as an indicator of sustainable development. From the 1995 Beijing Platfom of Action gender mainstreaming in analyis, policy and practice  emerged as the licphin of neol-liberal development. In the decades that followed, the emphasis on GEWE has been reinforced by overwhelming consensus that gender inequality and wide gender gaps across all sectors inadvertently deprives women and girls from enjoying development benefit on the same basis as men and boys. Cognizant of the necessity to scale-up inclusive development  as promoted by the Sustaniable Development Goals (SDGs), Africa's Agenda 2063, as well as Cameroon's Vision 2035, mainstreaming gender in public institutions such as local councils has been ramped up. Local councils therefore emerge as an approptiate site to carry out analysis on how gender equality and women's empowerment are mainstreamed. This paper examines how selected local councils in the North West and South West regions of Cameroon mainstream gender equality and women's empowerment in local development programmes. The paper employed a convergent parallel mixed method resarch design in which 215 questionnaires were administered, 8 interveiws conducted, and 2 Focused Group Discussions (FGD) were organised. The findings revealed that mainstreaming gender equality was not vigorously pursued as a policy option by local councils despite recognition of the fact that wide gender disparities persist  between women and men in local councils. Turning to women's empowerment, the study discovered that local development interventions did not approach women's empowerment from a transformatory perspective. Rather, women's empowerment was predominantly operationalised in terms of access to basic needs such as farming inputs. The paper recommends among other things that mainstremaing  gender and women's empowerment should be integrated at all levels in council development programmes in the North West and South Regions of Cameroon.