|NOWEFU Executive Members at CASD's workshop on ARHR|
“We, the North West Fons’ Union (NOWEFU), today declare that, our traditions henceforth, denounce any belief and practice that exposes our daughters to early pregnancies. We are committed to end adolescent pregnancies and transgressors shall be punished....... Parents should promote Adolescent Reproductive Health and Rights (ARHR) by discussing sex education with their children at home” Hon. Fon Teche Njeih, President General of NOWEFU.
There is an African proverb which says “The piper determines the rhythm of music not the dancers”. Similarly, traditional rulers in Cameroon define the cultures and traditions that determine the attitudes and behavior in the community, and not the community members. Unfortunately, from ancient days till now, the cultural and traditional practices in the North West Region of Cameroon significantly encourage incidences of adolescent pregnancy. In most of the villages, if a beard-chin man or a full-breast woman dies without a child, he or she is buried with a stone in the coffin as a sign of disgrace. In some villages, there is a belief that before a girl gets married, she must prove her maturity and fertility by giving birth as soon as possible. These societal pressures conspire against adolescent girls, making motherhood a likely outcome of their transition from childhood to adulthood. Instead of staying in School, 127 in every 1,000 girls aged 15-19 years get pregnant and drop out of school. Some die of complications resulting from the pregnancies, while others survive and continue the poverty cycle in their families.
To significantly reduce unwanted pregnancies among adolescent girls aged 12 – 19 in the NWR of Cameroon, Cameroon Agenda for Sustainable Development (CASD), designed the "Adolescent Pregnancies - Traditional Rulers Speak Out"(AP-TRSO) project. The AP-TRSO Project strives to encourage traditional leaders (“Fons”) in Cameroon to actively promote adolescent reproductive health and rights. Recognizing traditional leaders’ enormous influence over cultural practices in Cameroon, this project will target local leaders with the goal of transforming them into public opponents of adolescent pregnancy. Through radio placements, poster messages and the training of North West Fons’ Union (NOWEFU) members, this project also hopes to spark positive change in broader community attitudes and behaviors to reduce adolescent pregnancy.
“We, the North West Fons’ Union (NOWEFU), today declare that, our traditions henceforth, denounce any belief and practice that exposes our daughters to early pregnancies. We are committed to end adolescent pregnancies and transgressors shall be punished”
The above declaration was made by Hon. Fon. Teche Njieh of Ngem-eyah, President General of NOWEFU, after a recent advocacy workshop on adolescent pregnancy organized by CASD, targeting traditional rulers in Cameroon. Via the project, the “Fons” learnt and believed that, when a girl becomes pregnant, her present and future dangles like a candle in the wind. Her education may end, her career prospects evaporate, and her vulnerability to poverty, exclusion and dependency multiply. The traditional rulers also learnt and accepted that, families without adolescent pregnancies are more stable, communities with reduced adolescent pregnancies develop faster, and nations that promote family planning achieve a demographic dividend. They are now committed to lead action against adolescent pregnancies in their villages.
In the Horizon
|Numfor Alenwi, Executive Director, CASD|
To leave from commitment to action, the NOWEFU formed a taskforce that will work with the AP-TRSO project management team to design advocacy messages which will be disseminated to their community members via posters and radio spots. Fortunately, the President of NOWEFU is also the Secretary General of the Cameroon Senate (upper house of parliament). "Working with Hon. Fon Teche is a great opportunity to advance the advocacy on ARHR. We had a meaningful discussion towards raising the issue of ARHR at the Cameroon Paliarment" say Numfor Alenwi, Executive Director, CASD. CASD is gazed at the horizon, working and watching to see the day when every girl in Cameroon will receive the necessary societal support to delay her first pregnancy and have additional years in school, and when childbearing will not be a cause of death.