Cameroonian Women Reject Sexism, Use Tourism for Employment

D.L. Chandler November 11, 2014
Credit: Abena Agyeman-Fisher

Brenda Nkwenti

Credit: Abena Agyeman-Fisher

In Cameroon, traditional family roles are being challenged by a growing segment of women in the population that want to be a part of the workforce. Despite the resistance of husbands and male authorities, a rising number of Cameroonian women are chasing dreams via the tourism industry.

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The Daily Beast profiled Cameroonian women who shared their journey of finding employment, and the piece revealed that sexism remains a potent barrier to their success — despite their qualifications. The women are looking at tourism as their pathway in to employment prominence, even at the risk of losing approval from their husbands and society as whole.

The West African nation is ripe for such business, and 34-year-old Brenda Nkwenti (pictured top), who is a Mother of two, realizes this. Currently in tourism school in Denmark, Nkwenti has separated from her husband because he demanded she stay at home with their sons instead of using her education to further herself.

About Nkwenti, The Daily Beast writes:

“There were a lot of conflicts in [our] relationship because of my dreams,” Brenda explains. “He would say, ‘Oh, so you want to be big and stand out. What about me?’” Because Brenda is educated and has been independent since her early twenties, when she was renovating apartments for the Minister of Tourism, she resisted her husband’s demand that she stay home: “I never wanted anyone to make me lose my focus,” she says.

“It has not been easy as a woman, coming from a Cameroonian background,” she admits. “You find everyone around you just coming out of college and wanting to get married, have kids, and that’s the end of it. You have to really look further.”

While Nwkenti’s impending success is commendable, the imbalance of opportunity for educated women in Cameroon is glaring. The nation enjoys a low unemployment rate but women make up the largest of that group despite having the same educational credentials as their male counterparts.

On average, it takes about 30 months for a female college graduate to find their first job.

Agatha Iyok

Credit: Abena Agyeman-Fisher

In contrast, 44-year-old, Mother of four Agatha Iyok (pictured) owns Flora Travel & Tours Co., Ltd. In Limbe. And while she has had success as an entrepreneur, Iyok can attest to the challenges that face women in the workplace.

“Certain positions in Cameroon cannot be occupied by a woman,” shares Mrs. Iyok. “It is not written in a book of law, but we are all aware it is a gender issue.”

She added that certain high-level positions are hardly occupied by women; those positions include banking, corporations and the like. Hence, the tourism industry is wide-open for Cameroonian women to make a splash although it makes up a scant 3 percent of the country’s economy.

While the growing pains of acceptance of this new phase in Cameroon is to be expected, the wave of change is slowly taking over the country.

Read the entire article regarding the new wave of tourism led by Cameroonian women over at The Daily Beast.

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Last Edited by:iboateng Updated: June 19, 2018


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