COVID-19 : Stakeholders discuss women’s empowerment in the Sahel

The socio-economic health of women in the Sahel, during the COVID-19 pandemic has been   examined by its stakeholders, in Yaounde.

 

The sub-regional committee of the Sahel Women’s Empowerment and Demographic Dividend Project-SWEDDP recently held a 90-minute teleconference at its location in Bastos, in Yaounde, on June 8, 2020.

Reflections centered on  the theme “Women’s Empowerment as an Integrated Response Mechanism against COVID-19 : the SWEDDP Perspective”.

Prof. Mariatou Koné,  President of the Women’s Empowerment and Demographic Dividend Project-SWEDDP, chaired the session.

President  of the   Women’s Empowerment and Demographic Dividend Project-SWEDDP

Nine member countries from Central and West Africa were represented at the event including ; Cameroon, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Chad.

Cameroon’s Minister of the Economy, Planning and Regional Development, Alamine Ousmane Mey, and the Minister of Women’s Empowerment and the Family, Prof. Marie Therese Abena Ondoa represented Cameroon.

Alamine Ousmane Mey, Cameroon’s Minister of the Economy, Planning and Regional Development
Prof. Marie Therese Abena Ondoa, Minister of Women’s Empowerment and the Family, Cameroon

The meeting was initially scheduled for March 18-21 in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso , but was postponed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic

COVID-19 : Why Are Women vulnerable ?

The UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, recently remarked that many young girls and women are particularly exposed to violence wheras they are supposed to be protected.

Within the last 5 months, violence against women and girls has reportedly heightened. Teenage pregnancy and prostitution has also become a major setback to the womenfolk.

The World Health Organization says 1 out of 3 women experience physical and sexual violence, especially from partners during crisis .

In the sub region, challenges faced by women are compounded by the overburdened health systems, and the economic crisis caused by the pandemic.

Access to sexual health services has equally been greatly reduced by an unusual concentration of human and financial resources on the pandemic.

Accordingly, many women,  victims of domestic and sexual violence,  are more likely to commit abortions, sink into depression, contract Sexually Transmitted Diseases or become suicidal .

COVID-19 : A better life for women and young girls

In order to mitigate the effects of the pandemic on the  womenfolk in the Sahel, and stakeholders are seeking ways to incorporate the vulnerability of women in the response mechanism.

File : Cameroon’s Minister of Women’s Empowerment and the Family, Prof. Marie Therese Abena Ondoa  presents an award  to a woman  with special needs at the end of  a sports walk in prelude to the 2020 Women’s Day

The SWEDDP  project is also crafting a series of  supplementary measures to mitigate the socio-economic impact of the pandemic on these vulnerable groups.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every sector of the national life, but stakeholders say the pandemic should not particularly  give room for women to suffer more harm.

Kathy Neba Sina 

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