Last week was Vital Voices amazing 10th annual celebration of women leaders across the globe. One of the five honorees, Kah Walla, is a remarkable businesswoman, strategist, political activist and now candidate for president of Cameroon. I first met Kah several years ago, and have worked with her on training programs in Cameroon, as well as in South Africa and the US. Here’s a link to the Vital Voices video about Kah: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-SLpai6ODw&feature=share
Last night, the National Council of Negro Women opened the doors of its beautiful building to Kah and Africa OBosso, a Washington DC based non-profit with a goal of supporting political development in Africa. One of Africa OBossos projects is the Wave of Women campaign to get 2 million Cameroonian women to the polls for elections being held this fall (for president) and next year (for parliament).
Women in Cameroon constitute 52% of the population, 40% of the workforce and head 45% of households. Per capita GDP in Cameroon is $2,300 a year, ranking the country at 182nd globally (our of 228 countries). Like in many places, women are underrepresented in public office. Only 20% of candidates were women in the last election and only hold 7% of parliamentarians are women. This project aims to boost turnout among women by developing a womens agenda that addresses critical issues; identifying and training women candidates for parliaments from across the political spectrum; and involving thousands of women as activists.
This exciting project has the possibility of engaging women in Cameroon to fight for a policy platform that reflects the needs of women in their daily lives and by electing candidates who are committed to that platform and to inclusion in the political process.