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The effect of gender inequality on economic growth in Cameroon

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                                                                               CHAPTER ONE

                                                                     GENERAL INTRUODUCTION

1.1 Background of Study

Gender refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviors, activities, and attributes
that a given society considers appropriate for men and women categorizing them as either masculine or feminine. While gender inequality refers to a state of being essentially unequal or in equivalent; not at par with the rest. UNESCO (2003) Gender inequality is cause by discrimination and harassment which create states of inequality between individuals or groups of individuals (in this case men and women.) (Cornwall, Andrea. (2007).Gender inequality is a very serious problem which affects almost all societies especially in Africa. Africa tends to suffer from this problem more due to how their cultural is structure in a way that promotes male superiority and female victimization (Mikell, G., (1997).

This is done by the type of role African cultures allocate to men and women. Men are given the more prominent, sophisticated roles while women are given subordinate roles which are somewhat looked down upon. To do away with these discriminatory roles. African cultures have allocated to women; cultural reorientation has to take place. However, this is a struggle yet to be overcome due to how African ‘s value their culture and also how the men are not willing to let go of this discriminatory roles because it favors them thus making the process of cultural reorientation quite hard (Throup, D. & Hornsby, C., (1997). They are not  willing to look at the bigger picture of how giving women more favorable roles might actually help in the development process.

If Africans accept cultural reorientation to take place, the problem of gender
inequalities through the distribution of cultural roles will end up ceasing and not be
passed from generation to generation.

A prosperous and flourishing society means that women and men have equal opportunities for realizing their human rights. Men and women contribute mutually towards fulfilling the requirements of societal and cultural development. The societal and cultural development is directly linked with the political, national and economic development. The men and women must benefit equally in a society from the outcomes of that development. (Kramer, 2004)

However inequality severely restricts socio-economic development, specifically in the developing countries, where most of the women are the major food producers, primary teachers, gathers fuel and water, laborers and providers of health care in the informal economy. Sustainable development in a society is reliant on the equal contributions made by men and women. As such ensuring equal participation by women in the progress of their societies requires two major elements; equal ability to contribute as well as equal opportunity to perform such activities. The status of women in the major areas of society including education, health, decision making and access to resources must be improved. Premeditated efforts should be made to ensure that particularly women have a justifiable and equitable role towards shaping the societal growth. “Reducing gender inequalities implies benefits not only for women but also for men, children and the elderly, and for the poor as well as the rich.”

“Despite many improvements in the status of women there are still many inequalities:

  • Two thirds of people in the world who cannot read are female.
  • Nearly seventy percent of the world’s poorest people are female.
  • Women represent a growing proportion of people living with HIV/AIDS.
  • In only 16 countries in the world is women’s representation in national parliaments above 25 percent.
  • Women’s contributions to the global economy are growing rapidly but their labor remains undervalued and undercounted in national accounts.
  • An estimated one-quarter to one half of all women have suffered physical abuse.”(


Cameroon is not an exception when it comes to Gender inequality. Gender inequality does exist in the Cameroonian society and was promoted by colonialism where women were not allowed to run for political offices let alone have Identification cards (King, Elizabeth M. & Andrew D. Mason, (2001). It was also and is still being promoted by the roles different cultures and society have allocated to Cameroonian women thus making them subordinate to the men. Religion also has a role in promoting gender inequality in Cameroon. Islam for example allows the men to have up to four wives but does not say anything about allowing their women the same number of husbands. How come the men are privileged to have a variety of women while the women are limited to only one? Should this be the case? In the researchers ‘opinion, the whole issue of marring more than one wife should be done away with if there are no plans to let the Islam women to do the same. Catholics also promote gender inequality in that, women are not allowed to be priests (fathers) thus they cannot be popes. Catholic women can only be nuns, meaning that they cannot conduct mass, they just set up the alter for the priest and help him to give sacraments (Klasen, Stephan, (1999). The nuns ‘roles are thus subordinating; making them to be the priests ‘servants. Is it right to deny women to play amore prominent role in church? A role where they can make decisions on their own and not have to follow what the man ‘is saying?

Economic inequality is directly related to the monetary and financial conditions of women. More than seventy percent of poor in the world are women, while the number of females living in poverty has significantly and disproportionately increased as compared with men. Women also have unequal access to major economic resources like credit, capital, land and labor. Restricted opportunities for career advancement and employment are available for women. These limitations restrict the capabilities of women to improve their monetary and economic scenario. (Zinn, 2005).

Gender inequalities can be a contributing factor to the slow development in
Cameroon. This is because, not all the human capacity is being used. Cameroon has a large population mostly constituting of women, but the women are not being used or allowed to play prominent roles in the decision-making process.
1.2 Statement of problem

The movement for the empowerment and autonomy of women in Cameroon, and the improvement of their political, social, economic, and health status, has walked a long distance, but is still far from reaching its intended destination.

Cameroon has made key strides toward gender equality and women’s empowerment through major international commitments, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the Declaration of Heads of State and Government of the African Union on Equality Between Women and Men, and the Sustainable Development Goals. However, though these international and regional commitments take precedence over Cameroon’s national laws, customs, and traditions, the preference for customary laws remains, and means that discrimination against women continues in Cameroon, especially in rural areas.

Further, the Preamble of the Constitution of Cameroon includes several provisions that enshrine gender equality. But many questions about ending inequalities faced by women continue to linger, such as the recognition of rape between husband and wife, protection for unemployed women, pension for widows, the continuation of child marriage, breast ironing, and other issues.


  • Research questions

1.3.1Main research question

The main research question here is what is the effect of gender inequality on economic growth in Cameroon?

1.3.2 Specific research questions

The specific research questions are as follows;

What is the effect of gender inequality on educational inequality  in Cameroon?

What is the effect of educational inequality on income inequality in Cameroon?

1.4Objective of the study

1.4.1 Main objective

The main objective of this study is to investigate the effects of gender inequality on economic growth in  Cameroon.

1.4.2 Specific Objective

The specific objectives of the study include;                        

  • To determine the effect of gender inequality on educational inequality in Cameroon.
  • To analyse the effect of gender inequality on employment in equality in Cameroon.

1.5 Hypothesis

The research hypothesis will be given in both the null and alternative form

1.5.1 Main research hypothesis

The main hypothesis of this study is that

H₀₁: There is no relationship between gender inequality and inequality in Cameroon.

H₁₁: There is a relationship between gender inequality and inequality in Cameroon

1.5.2 Specific hypothesis

H₀₁: There is no significant effect of effect of gender inequality  on employment inequality in Cameroon.

H₀₂: There exists no relationship between educational inequality and income inequality in Cameroon.

H₀₃: There is no significant effect of gender inequality on educational inequality in Cameroon.

H₁₁: T here is a significant effect of gender inequality on employment inequality in Cameroon

H₁₂: There exists a relationship between educational inequality and income inequality in Cameroon.

H₁₃: There is no significant effect of gender inequality on educational inequality in Cameroon.

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