Academic journal article Public Administration Research

Women Education and Political Participation in the South West Region of Cameroon: An Empirical Analysis

Academic journal article Public Administration Research

Women Education and Political Participation in the South West Region of Cameroon: An Empirical Analysis

Article excerpt

Abstract

The paper empirically examined the relationship between education level and political participation of women of the South West region of Cameroon. The indices of political participation include the following: membership of political party, voting in elections, occupation of political post, means of occupation of political post and level of occupation of political post. Multistage cluster sampling technique was used to select the sample population of the study. A total of 222 women constituted the sampled population for the study. Data for the study was collected using structured questionnaire. Data analysis was done using descriptive and inferential statistical tools. The results revealed that women of the South West region of Cameroon are fairly well exposed to formal education as only 4.1% of the sampled population had no formal education. The study revealed that the higher the level of women's formal education, the more their tendency to participate in politics in areas of voting in elections and occupation of political post either through elections or appointments at all levels of government.

Keywords: women, education, political participation

1. Introduction

In recent times, nations of the world have witnessed increased discussions and debates on gender issues with emphasis on women liberation, emancipation, empowerment, protection of women rights, and women participation in politics among others. In order to ensure women development in modem democracies, governments, world organizations and various stakeholders at different levels have made declarations that are supposed to be binding on member States among which include the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights, which prohibit all forms of discriminations based on sex and ensure the right to life, liberty and security (UNDP, 2005).

The 1979 UN Convention on the Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) addressed issues pertaining to the rights of women to education, inheritance, credit and opportunities on equal bases with men. It also reaffirmed the equality of human rights for women and men in societies and in the family. In the same vein, it obliged States to take actions against the social causes of women's inequality; called for the elimination of laws, stereotype practices and prejudices that impair the wellbeing of women (UNDP, 2005). The World Conference on Human Rights in 1993 at Vienna affirmed that "women's rights are human rights" (Delahanty, 2005: 5-10). The Beijing platform of Action in 1999 re-emphasized the protection of women from domestic violence and sexual harassments.

In the wake of all these developments, women in Cameroon are still restricted in almost all important areas of human capabilities. In the South West region of the country, awoman's status is still a reflection of the stereotype cultural views of a woman's role in the society being that of child-raising and home-making. Women are afforded limited opportunities to explore wider aspirations and attaining to her maximum potentials (especially in the socioeconomic and political spheres) outside these cultural stereotype boundaries (UN Women' Watch, 2014). This invariably has resulted in the girl-child being provided little or no opportunities for further education. Thus, women tend to have limited access to formal education as she is often forced into early marriage. (Abua & Fonchong, 2004).

With specific reference to formal education, political participation has been reported to have strong links with education. As an example, Bums, Schlozman and Verba (1997: 373-389) have posited on the basis of decades of researches into the factors influencing individuals' engagement with politics in the USA, that education is an 'especially powerful predictor of political participation'. They further identified a range of direct and indirect effects that formal education has upon political participation.

Directly impacting on the study is their identification of a range of direct and indirect effects that formal education has upon political participation. …

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