All Photos By: DJ Pierce
Every March, Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day are recognized globally to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. Each year has a theme, and 2019’s is #BalanceForBetter, “Let’s build a gender-balanced world.” Women’s empowerment and gender equality are central parts of the work we do through our humanitarian initiatives in Cameroon, and we want you to join us in celebrating Women’s History Month and building a gender-balanced world.
Women’s history has been a journey. For a long time, not much of what women did was deemed historically worthy of being recorded, and women have been at a disadvantage economically, socially, and educationally. But as time went on, we saw a slow but continuous improvement in women’s rights and opportunities: the right to vote, better pay, access to jobs and government positions, and access to sex education and birth control. Much has changed for the better. But there is still a lot of work to do if a gender-balanced world is what we’re seeking. That is true for the U.S. as well as worldwide.
This brings us to Cameroon. This central West African country is where the majority of our humanitarian efforts are focused. History is proving that major changes are happening. In the public sphere, women are showing up more and more. The proportion of seats held by women in the Cameroonian national parliaments has gone from 5.6% in 2000 all the way up to 31.1% in 2016! What progress in such a short period of time!
In the domestic sphere, it looks less promising. At home, violence is prevalent, with 33% of women in Cameroon reporting they have experienced intimate partner violence in the past year. Over half of women will experience physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence within their lifetime. These percentages are among the highest in the world, according to the UN Women Global Database on Violence Against Women.
(Source: UN Women)
While domestic abuse is a very complex situation, violence against women is certainly a way the imbalance of power reveals itself. Additionally, women are often financially dependent upon the abuser and have no other choice but to endure. This is the tragic reality for far too many.
This what the Women’s and Family Enrichment Program was created to address. Through programs like this, and support from all of our families, friends, and donors, we are empowering women. We are giving them the tools to make changes in their lives, as we inspire, educate, and empower all who seek to experience their full potential. For our Women’s Empowerment Program, this includes teaching women how to financially support their families, giving them the means and desire to live a healthy life, and providing them with the knowledge and power to make the best decisions for their family’s finances and health.
All Photos By: DJ Pierce
The Himalayan Institute’s humanitarian initiatives in Cameroon depend upon the love and support of our donors—the progress and development we have seen over the years could not have been possible without you, and for this we are truly grateful. Together, we are creating peaceful communities throughout Cameroon.
Meet our guest author, Tracy!
Tracy studied Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan and is an ERYT with over a decade of yoga teaching experience. She has worked with women in a number of capacities, from women in prison to Amish women within her community. For the past five years, she has had the privilege of teaching yoga to women overcoming addiction at residential treatment facilities. Tracy’s teacher, Karina Ann Mirsky, a former Himalayan Institute teacher, led her to become familiar with their work. She’s inspired by HI’s dedication to women through their Women’s Empowerment work in Cameroon.