By Hope Nda
The Rural Women Development Centre, RUWDEC, Friday, 19 February 2020, trained over 20 girls and women in the seaside town of Idenau on sex education and self-sustenance skills, including how to grow mushrooms.
The Managing Director of RUWDEC, Nyandoh Paho Tadfor, says the two-day training was aimed at mentoring girls, teenage mothers, and survivors of rape and other ills in Idenau Subdivision. “After the mushroom training, we were out to build their capacity, to teach them their social reproductive rights, to bring out the ills they encounter in the Idenau community and to find out collective ways through which we can eradicate them.”
During mentorship and training exercise held on February 19 and 20, the women and girls were first taught how to grow mushrooms, a fungus plant-like structure that grows on dead plants and sometimes used for food.
The mushroom training is geared at “improving their livelihood” and will help them generate income to attain “some extent of self-reliance,” says Mary Enow Epe, Education and Capacity Building Facilitator at RUWDEC.
Parents Shying Away From Sex Education Responsibility
In a “Girls Talk,” RUWDEC tutored the women and girls on sex education, focusing on how to prevent early pregnancy and venereal infections.
According to RUWDEC’s Managing Director, parents are shying away from the responsibility of educating their teenage children on sex, and this has accounted for the plethora of teenage pregnancies, abortions and rape cases witnessed in society in recent times.
“We want to plead that our parents should be more hospitable, to be more friendly to us their kids and to have an open and relaxing conversation that will enable us to speak out.”
She said parents should create a home that is comfortable enough for their children to share the challenges they face and that they should foster parent-child communication.
The Cameroon Medical Council says 25 percent of pregnancies in Cameroon occur in girls of school-going age, and 20 percent of such girls do not return to school.
“The issue of forced marriages here (Idenau), as compared to other communities, is quite alarming, as well as the problem of unwanted pregnancies,” said Mary Enow Epe, RUWDEC’s Education and Capacity Building Facilitator.
Managing Director, Paho Tadfor, observed that female needs are being neglected by schools, Churches and society generally. In Cameroon, condoms, for example, is sold at a price that is 24 times cheaper than female pads, she said. This makes it easier for teenagers to engage in sex but rather difficult for teenage girls to care for themselves during menstruation.
To better champion the empowerment and plight of girls, RUWDEC formed a D-Girls Club, a platform to rally girls and women for mentorship and self-empowerment.
“The D-Girls Club is going to be a mentorship club, where we are going to strengthen the relationship among girls; where we are going to improve their capacity.”
She added that the club will foster “a real sense of sisterhood and mentor the girls to be who they want to be, and by so doing, be the change we want to see in communities.”
In a society where the male voice seems to be dominant, RUWDEC is one of the women-based non-governmental organisations which focuses on developing rural communities and promoting the plight of women and girls.