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Women’s empowerment and community development in Cameroon. A case study of NGOs and women’s organisations in the Northwest Province

Alasah, Akogutuh A. (2008) Women’s empowerment and community development in Cameroon. A case study of NGOs and women’s organisations in the Northwest Province University of Southampton, School of Social Sciences, Doctoral Thesis , 262pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)


This thesis investigates a contemporary issue in developing countries within the context of the Cameroon North-West Region. It seeks to understand how government policy and development organisations in Cameroon are empowering women and promoting their role in the community development (CD) process. It investigates and analyses the causes of gaps between policy implementation at the grassroots level which prevents women benefiting fully from the programmes initiated by government at the central level. The research is an empirical study which employs a qualitative approach with a case study design, informed by feminist paradigms and guided by the Interpretivists epistemological stand point. The case is the North-West Region of Cameroon, with particular focus on women’s development Non-Governmental Organisations and Women’s Groups. Semistructured interviews, questionnaires, focus groups and documentary analysis were the main methods of data generation.
In seeking to understand why women’s role in the process of CD is still limited to basic activities at the household and local community levels it has become necessary to examine gender roles within the Cameroon socio-cultural milieu to observe how these are affecting the overall development process. The Government’s initiative to empower women all over Cameroon and promote their influence in the community is in recognition of the pivotal role they play in uplifting living standards and alleviating poverty particularly in the rural communities, which also falls within the government’s overall development plan for the nation. The research has found that recent efforts to promote this through policy and targeted programmes for women at the grassroots have been thwarted by a severe deficiency in financial and human resources, poor communication networks, high rates of illiteracy among women, corruption, politics of ethno-regional segregation and the lack of a mechanism for enforcing legislation. The thesis has thus, unpacked the rhetoric of government initiated programmes and the gaps between policy and implementation at the grassroots level. A new understanding or perception to the concept of empowerment which focuses on economic and welfare needs, different from the conventional meaning has been brought out through this research. This suggests that definitions of concepts such as empowerment must be brought within a specific sociocultural and political context. The thesis has made recommendations for what is required to be done if women are to be in the driving seat for rural development in Cameroon and the North-West Region in particular.
The thesis concludes that Community Development and Women’s Empowerment are two complementary processes in Cameroon. While Community Development has a long history in the country and has been hailed as the total approach to development especially in the North-West Region, women’s empowerment on the other hand is generally considered a secular concept from the West which still has no place yet in any of Cameroon’s sub-cultural groups not least in the North-West Region. Local perceptions are that women should be empowered if only this means increasing their economic opportunities to earn and bring more money into the family and community and not more

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Published date: 14 November 2008
Organisations: University of Southampton


Local EPrints ID: 69585
PURE UUID: 06464efa-c290-43d4-82f6-1b6468e50d21

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Date deposited: 04 Dec 2009
Last modified: 19 Jul 2017 00:07

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Author: Akogutuh A. Alasah
Thesis advisor: Janis Fook

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