Discover and Impact Cameroon

Women, Youth and Development: Daily Challenge

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Development is a very large debate because the concept is relatively defines differently from one region or one country to another one, depending on the reality. Coming back to the globalization, development means the wiliness of poor countries (in Africa, Caraïbe and Pacific) to reach the same level as developed countries such as USA, countries in Europe… The questions many researchers from social sciences are asking themselves today are: what is the role/participation/impact played by women and youth in the process of development? How are they considered today while talking about development? What is really happening on the field in developing countries? To answer these questions and more it is really important to access some key information that will help both developing and developed countries to notice the importance of taking in consideration the role played by women and youth in the process of development. The mistakes from the past help to increase the ideas for the cooperation for development. One of the major evolutions from international NGOs, states… is the consideration of the place or role of women and youth within development.

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Talking about women, they are really late comparing to men in the education and it is notice that within 129 000 000 of youth that can go to primary school but don’t, 60% are female. Despite to many efforts that have been done to change this situation, many reason affecting gender are noticed such as culture, houses tasks, pregnancy, earlier marriage, while men/males are expecting to go far with school to be able to help the family growth. 70% of people living in very poor conditions are women with low accessibility to economy such as loan, becoming landlord or participation into decision making process. Despite the fact that women are doing 2/3 of the work, they are just owner of 1% of properties in the World. Women and men do not have equal chance to access jobs, the type/category of jobs is very different and the women salary is 60 to 70% inferior to men salary. Women in Cameroon are spending more time for jobs that are not salary based such as house chores, agriculture for survivance… Most of the time, the major responsibility of women is to take care of the house and kids (house chores, cooking for the family…). Only few women access high responsibilities – 2% – such as directors, managers; in the general, only 5% of Head of States, CEO of bigger companies, Internationals Organizations are women. Many stereotypes have been developed around gender issue and women are nearly obliged to accept their reality and conditions. Most of them are not welcoming any project that is designed to empower them and give them freedom.

Youth are also suffering the same problem as women. The reality is quite similar because the context is the same and all are based on education, job accessibility, active or non-active participation into development process. A study indicates that the youth poverty rate was 46.02% in 2007. Furthermore, there exist disparities in the incidence of poverty in Cameroon; households with children/youth in rural areas are six times as likely to at risk of poverty as compare with households with children/youth in urban area. 64% of all youth in Cameroon experience at least one form of deprivation. 30% lack access to food and information, 20% of education. The situation is the same for accessibility to jobs and participating to sustainable development. Youth  development  is  especially  important  for  young  people who  have  little  or  no  support  from  their families, schools, and communities.  These hard to reach and under served youth, who frequently report high risk behavior and often lack access to health services, include: Youth who live on the street, Low-income young people, Youth in foster care and group homes, Young people in the juvenile justice system, Adolescents addicted to alcohol or other drugs, Youth in residential treatment facilities, Young people who have dropped out of school, Pregnant and parenting youth, Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender young people, Survivors of childhood sexual, physical, and/or emotional abuse, Youth with mental or physical disabilities.

Considering their situations, Women and Youth started many actions to support other that are in the same conditions. Therefore many organizations, SME, are created and managed by either women or youth. Hope Foundation is one of those Organizations leading by Young people that is impacting people life in Cameroon in many domains since more than 10 years: Health, IT, Social Services, Protection of Environment, Education… Many conferences, forums and seminars are also organized around the world to find solutions we can name some example of youth conference in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, in 2011 it was an African Youth (women included) conference in Niamey (Niger) for sustainable development.

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This very last century, many government across the world have been questioning themselves on how to brake down all this situation and it come out many progress because it is found that women and youth play an important role today that have been neglected in the past. Since some years we can easily indentify some changes in the decision making process with the high consideration of participation of women and youth in the process of development. It becoming difficult for a project to succeed if gender and youth participation are not planned or taking in consideration. Despite these efforts, in Cameroon as in many developing countries the situation are not really moving forward because of cultures in certain regions of world where women are not allow to have other jobs if it is not house chores or non-profit jobs. Mentalities in many African Countries are still not considering youth as potential agent of positive change. So it is always a fight between desire situation and the reality. many NGOs have initiated lot of capacity building, youth and women empowerment projects, life skills development… but can’t succeed because of the acceptance of community that are still really behind everything. For example, there are only few people in Cameroon that are aware of the importance of Information Technology with Internet include. Women and youth Programs must tap the resources of community members, including parents and families, religious and business leaders, project planners should assess young participants to determine the developmental opportunities and services that would benefit each the most and ensure participants’ access to those opportunities.

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Volunteering as Career Builder (Clotaire Ntienou)

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Context of Volunteering development

We always want to have the perfect job after our university degree, not asking ourselves, how can we get the first job, knowing that most of job offers out require minimum of years of working experience. It become for many people so difficult to have the dreamed job, because they are not competitive enough.

How can we then manage it? How can we succeed to have a job after school if we does not have any “working experience”? It is only by volunteering. The reason is that doing this, you can develop new skills in a very short period of time and gain the necessary experience that is required for most of job application. Also this may help you to put in practice what you have learned in school and then you become fully ready.

Most of the time, at the end of the volunteering period, you are awarded a certificate indicating the type of job you have been doing and also the satisfaction of the NGO or Association Chief Executive Officer and some time with a life time recommendation option.

Who is a volunteer?

A volunteer is someone who performs or offers to perform a service of his own free will, most of the time without any form of payment.

Why are we talking about volunteering today as career builder tool? It is because volunteering is not only beneficial to the community you serve, but can have many returns for you too.

Volunteers Benefits

Learn or develop new skills
Through volunteering, you get to discover something you are really good at and develop new skills. It is never too late to learn new skills. There is no reason you should stop adding to your knowledge and skills just because you have completed your education or are already employed. In planning and implementing a project even as a volunteer, you can develop goal setting, planning and budgeting skills. By supervising and training a project team, you could develop supervisory and training skills. These are examples of skills that can enhance a career but you don’t have to develop skills with the intention of facilitating your career. Performing administrative duties in an organization can enable you develop project management skills. Explore your love for tree-planting and you can volunteer your talents to local organizations. As a matter of fact, the possibilities are just numerous.

Be part of the making of your community
Nobody is an island. We sometimes take for granted the community that we live in. People and societies depend on each other for survival although the quest for profit threatens to erode traditional communal values. Volunteering is an honourable way of helping the needy and having an impact on the lives of people in your community and elsewhere. What better way is there to connect with your community and give a little back? As a volunteer, you certainly return to society some of the benefits that society gives you.
Generate motivation and sense of achievement Fundamentally, volunteering is about giving your time, energy and skills freely. Unlike many things in life there is choice involved in volunteering. As a volunteer you have made a decision to help on your own accord, free from pressure to act from others. Volunteers predominantly express a sense of achievement and motivation, and this is ultimately generated from your desire and enthusiasm to help. Sometimes volunteers are regarded as do-gooders and those that hold that view also assume that one person can never make a difference. It may be true that no one person can solve all the world’s problems, but what you can do is make that little corner of the world where you live just that little bit better.

Boost your career options
Many surveys have shown that many leading organizations would recruit a candidate with volunteering experience over one without, because they believe that volunteering can add to skills.
Also, if you are thinking of a career change then volunteering is a perfect way to explore new fields. If you have a passion for the arts but have career in computing, then why not volunteer at a theatre troop? Or if your ambitions are to be a doctor why not find out about volunteer opportunities at a hospital – the ideal way to expand your work portfolio in your field and to gain a real insight into your chosen path?

Develop new interests and hobbies
Sometimes we do get locked into the “rat-race” of life and volunteering can give that escape to everyday routine and create a balance in our lives. Finding new interests and hobbies through volunteering can be fun, relaxing and energizing. Help run a youth project for a few hours a week or assist in publishing an NGO’s newsletter. The energy and sense of fulfilment can carry over to a work situation and sometimes helps to relieve tensions and foster new perspectives for old situations. Sometimes a volunteer experience can lead you to something you never even thought about or help you discover a hobby or interest you were unaware of. You can strengthen your personal/professional mission and vision by exploring opportunities and expanding your horizons.

Gain new experiences
Volunteering is a brilliant way to get life experience. Whether you build a library or distribute flyers to raise awareness for a local NGO, you will experience the real world through hands-on work. Volunteers can do almost anything and with the new millennium has dawned an era of infinite volunteer opportunities. For example, it is possible to volunteer in different communities and or organizations and see the direct impact of your actions on some of the most vulnerable people of the world.

An opportunity to meet a diverse range of people
Volunteering brings together a diverse range of people from all backgrounds and walks of life. Both the recipients of your volunteer efforts and your co-workers can be a rich source of inspiration and an excellent way to develop your interpersonal skills. Volunteering also offers an incredible networking opportunity. Not only will you develop lasting personal and professional relationships but it is also a great way to learn about people from all walks of life, different environments, and new industries. Networking is an exciting benefit of volunteering and you can never tell who you will meet or what new information you will learn and what impact this could have on your life.

Send a signal to your employer, teachers, friends and family
People pay attention to your life outside the environment in which they have direct contact with you. For example, your employer would be interested in the activities that give you a good work-life balance, just as academic institutions are interested in your extra-curricular activities. Volunteering reflects and supports a complete picture of you, and gives real examples of your commitment, dedication and interests. Show people what you are passionate about and maybe you will inspire them too.

Where can you volunteer?

You have wide range of opportunities in your communities such as local NGOs (event small), Association working for community development, orphanages, social centers, international organisations such as UN, Red Cross… WebDev Foundation and Bekondo Foundation as well offer wide range of volunteering opportunities during the year.

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