"Say yes to gender democracy"
Date: Monday, August 18, 2014
Delphine Nana Mekounte, 60, was Cameroon's National Coordinator for NGOs at the time of the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995. She is now the Director General of CEFEPROD (Women's Centre for Promoting Development), a nongovernmental organization that promotes the economic, social and cultural development of women and youth.
It’s nearly 20 years! But it feels as if it were yesterday. I was barely 40 years old back then. And I thought I’d be bedridden at 60. But here I am, still going strong. And once again, I’m fully immersed in preparing for Beijing+20.
I’d like to thank God that I am still here today to relive Beijing, 20 years on.
The majority of my companions along the way have found eternal rest. In their memory, the struggle for gender equality and women’s empowerment in all fields must go on until we achieve parity and until we reach our goal of equality.
We have come a long way. In September 1993, the Prime Minister of Cameroon created a National Committee under the direction of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Women to coordinate the activities of NGOs in preparation for the Fourth United Nations Conference on Women. I was elected head of this coordination team.
Despite the financial difficulties that we encountered, many Cameroonian women made enormous sacrifices and their commitment shone through in their massive participation at the United Nations NGO Forum, held from 20 August to 8 September 1995 in Huairou, and at the Fourth World Conference, from 4 to 15 September 1995 in Beijing. These women showed their determination to close ranks and fight for equality, even going as part of the preparations to the fifth African Regional Conference, held in 1994 in Dakar, Senegal
I went to China. I watched, listened, appraised and exchanged experiences to improve the status of women. Drawing on my experience in preparing for the Conference in Beijing, I have since managed to demonstrate leadership internationally, regionally and nationally.
In my opinion, the most remarkable achievement is undoubtedly the dynamism, determination and confidence that women have gained in the 20 years following Beijing. We must acknowledge the enormous changes happening in the world. They have positive implications for women and tie in with the priority themes adopted in Beijing in 1995.
We have accomplished so much, but there is still a great deal to do. It’s not enough just to mobilize women and boost their dynamism and self-confidence. We need decision-makers to show their political will. Our aim is not simply to claim our rights; it’s to convince decision-makers. A society built with women is a balanced society and one that will also benefit men. And so I say yes to gender democracy!