Gender is Either of the two sexes (male and female), especially when considered with reference to social and cultural differences rather than biological ones. Inequality is the lack of equality (The state of being equal, especially in status, rights, or opportunities.)
Gender inequality remains a barrier to human development, especially in third world countries. Gender inequality can be defined as the unequal treatment or perception of individuals based on their gender.
Many third world countries (“third world are the developing countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America,” according to the Oxford dictionary) especially in African countries like Cameroon, Nigeria, Ghana and others face gender inequality because of things like social stratification and inequality, tradition, inadequate education, social norms, discrimination, gender-based violence, decision making power within marriage, no freedom of choice, and life satisfaction. All of these reasons and more are the problems faced by women in these countries. I will focus on some factors of Gender inequality in Cameroon because I lived there all my life before coming to the United States.
Stratification refers to a system in which groups of people experience unequal access to basic, yet high value, social resources. According to George Murdock’s classic work, Outline of World Cultures (1954), “all societies classify work by gender. When a pattern appears in all societies, it is called a cultural universal. While the phenomenon of assigning work by gender is universal, its specifics are not. The same task is not assigned to either men or women worldwide. But the way each task’s associated gender is valued is notable. In Murdock’s examination of the division of labor among 324 societies around the world, he found that in nearly all cases the jobs assigned to men were given greater prestige (Murdock and White 1968). Even if the job types were very similar and the differences slight, men’s work was still considered more vital.” These means,
men still have greater prestige than women. Jobs can never be the same for women and men. This is a universal issue but in third world countries, especially in Cameroon, it is really horrible because some women don’t even get the privilege to work so as to earn a living.
Talking about tradition, tradition is the transmission of customs and beliefs from generation to generation or the fact of being passed on in this way. Because of the beliefs most of the ancestors put on their generations, many people especially men, believe that “a woman’s place is in the kitchen and making babies.” (a saying from my father Tabufor David, 75 years old). He told me when he was young his father told him about these rights of a man. I also got this from many people growing up. He (Tabufor David) said women were not allowed to go to school or work especially in a company, all they could do was provide food through farming, having children and listening to everything their husbands or brothers had to say.
In Cameroon, it is a tradition that women can never be an heir apparent. According to their culture (the beliefs and behaviors that social groups shares.) because of this action in the past, most females were persecuted at birth because most parents wanted male children. Promotion of beliefs that perpetuate family name when a woman gets married, has seen a situation where perpetrators of violence against women beget males who believe that they are more equal than girls. Cultural and religious institutions perpetuate discrimination against girls through promoting beliefs that privilege males. For example, when the father dies, many societies believe that the eldest son is the one who takes charge of the family.
Whenever they need a family representative for different functions like to appease the ancestors the eldest son will go ahead of other family members including the mother. All these traditions hindered women from progressing.
Inadequate education is also a very big problem in Cameroon that makes women unequal to men. According to Robbin Lee (a researcher of Girls education in Cameroon.) Undeniable disparities hinder educational access for poor, disabled, indigenous and refugee children, particularly disadvantaged girls. Issues ranging from sexual harassment, unplanned pregnancies and early marriages to domestic chores and socio-cultural biases proliferate a trend in which fewer girls attend primary schools than boys. Incongruences between male and female education in Cameroon exacerbate the growing movement of students leaving the country to study and live elsewhere that has been termed the “brain drain.” Less than 50 percent of Cameroonian girls attend primary school, and the average adult has only 5.9 years of education under his or her belt. There are many, however, who are working to change that. Parents prefer their male children to go to school and the female to go into early marriages.
If about 50% of females from childhood don’t go to school and more of them drop out of school before 18 years and are forced into marriage. The level of illiteracy forces them to be more ignorant in fighting for equality.
Renu Batra and Thomas G. who talked about gender inequality in India (third world countries), and solutions towards this problem
Reading their article, it shows a similar situation to my country and most other third world countries.
The major problem of gender inequality especially women is because of a lack of education. In some countries, women don’t have the right to go to school or look for a job. These problems bring these women down to nothing and make them ignorant of being educated or having some skilled training of their own.
lastly, I will talk about social norms as a problem of gender in inequality in third world countries, especially in Cameroon. Social norms can be used simply to mean a common practice, what most people do in a particular context. For example, social norms mean African women or Cameroonian women and girls are most likely to be reasonable for housework and childbirth.
I was a girl who grew up in a third world country I experienced this problem of gender inequality but the main person who suffered this problem was my mother (Tabufor Justine) who is very close to my heart. she had to drop out of school very early, without even completing high school because women were not supposed to go to school at her age. They were supposed to get married and start building a family. Every time she told me this story she cried, she had me at a very early age of 17 years old without even knowing how to change a diaper. She had to work extremely by buying and selling local goods because my father was never there for her but came when he needed to eat and others. This was a very bad experience and I wish women could be able to speak up.
The only way I experience the problem of gender inequality in Cameroon was from school and other people around me. in school girls are were not allowed to take courses like electricity, engineering, and construction. In high school, we were not allowed to talk to boys in a loud
manner, we were supposed to respect them no matter what because they are superior to us even in our homes and in other places. One could get punished for all these things.
I am glad I grew with a mother who fought for her female children, she made who I am today, she refused she will never force or let anyone force me into marriage, or take me out of school. She fought for me like a brave woman.
Today, most mothers who fought for their female children are seeing the results. Most of these children have become educated and they can stand for themselves and chose to be equal to men. An end to gender inequality is an end to poverty, discrimination, and ignorance, just to name a few.
Social norms are a clear obstacle to African women’s progress, limiting the time women can spend on education and paid work, and access to economic and financial assets. For instance, African women still carry out 71 percent of water collecting, farm work and others which translates to 40 billion hours a year, and are less likely to have bank accounts and to access credit.
All these factors account to why there is a gender inequality problem in Cameroon. Recently many women have stood up to fight against this problem. The number of Cameroonian Internet users is also increasing, particularly through mobile phones. More and more women use a well-known Facebook group called Kamer sisters, gathering more than 7,000 Cameroonian women based in or outside Cameroon, to advertise their products and businesses and look for jobs. It is not rare to see women looking to hire nannies, or young women looking for such positions. The government of Cameroon and most third world countries are now ensuring that women have the following:
Ensure women’s access to healthcare, in particular by developing healthcare infrastructure, intensifying the ﬁght against HIV/AIDS; taking steps to reduce the maternal mortality rate; and legalizing abortion for non-medical reasons.
Strengthen laws and policies to combat violence against women, if any man touches or force a woman to do anything, she cannot be able to report it to authorities. The government is trying to adopt a speciﬁc law on violence against women, including domestic violence and marital rape; criminalize harmful traditional practices such as female genital mutilation and breast ironing and implement awareness-raising programs targeting the general population; establish appropriate services to support victims and facilitate their access to justice.
The Penal Code was updated in 2016 and now gives equal rights to men and women to sue for divorce. In practice, however, the courts are dominated by men, who may undermine gender considerations, such as lengthening proceedings and making the process unaffordable for women. But more educated women are getting in the field and they are putting in their best to have equality.
Everyday these issues are becoming the past and women are becoming more and more intelligent. They now form association to bring more voices in, talk with women from different countries and travel of the country to experience cultures and traditions of other countries. Many men who did this act of treating women badly, some are now seeing the mistakes they made and they are trying to look for solutions to these problems.