Parliamentarians in Cameroon discuss sanitation and hygiene challenges for women

  • Parliamentarians in Cameroon held a session to discuss ways to improve access to sanitation and hygiene for women, with an emphasis on Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM)
  • Lawmakers unanimously agreed to push for policies and direct actions to ensure safe and adequate sanitation for women in their constituencies
  • Gender equality is a catalyst for attaining the Sustainable Development Goals

By FAJONG Joseph LEREH, National Communication Expert, UN Women Cameroon

Parliamentarians and experts from Cameroon, Togo, Tchad, Madagascar, Ivory Coast, Central African Republic, Niger, Mali, Canada, France, Swiss, Belgium and the European Union have unanimously agreed that concrete measures must be taken to reverse the current appalling sanitation and hygiene conditions faced by women.

Over 100 members of the Cameroon National Assembly attended the advocacy session jointly organized by UN Women Cameroon and WSSCC on October 13 in Yaoundé, to discuss their role in the change of sectorial policies and budget with regards to MHM.

They have agreed to take bold steps by voting for specific laws on MHM, influence public policies for better access to water, hygiene and sanitation by women, ensure that public toilets in their areas of influence are separated for both sexes and meet basic hygienic conditions with access to water and soap.

The Resident Representative of UN Women Cameroon Adama Moussa stressed the significance of gender equality in the attainment of the overall Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“As lawmakers, Parliamentarians need to understand that gender equality is an entry point for the realization of the SDGs,” he said.

WSSCC’s Executive Director Chris Williams addressed the participants in a video lauding their leadership in the MHM policy development process in Cameroon.

“The very positive and proactive steps you are taking will bring about the inclusion of women and girls and will ensure that truly, no one is left behind as we pursue the SDG agenda,” he said.

At the end of the session, the President of the Network of Female Parliamentarians in Cameroon, Hon. Epoube noted with gratitude the efforts made by UN Women and WSSCC to ensure that the specific needs of women and particularly, MHM is put in the public domain for discussion.

“We are going to play our role by pressing on at the National Assembly for Menstrual Hygiene Management to be integrated in laws and budgets that we vote,” she said.

WSSCC and UN Women are collaborating on the Joint Programme on Gender, Hygiene and Sanitation in West and Central Africa, to change policies and behaviour to improve women and girls’ human right to water and sanitation.

Read more about the programme’s work in a series of info letters, available here.