Lauren Sheehy's Web Page

I am currently a senior at Dickinson College with a double major in Anthropology and Sociology. I have dreamed about Africa ever since I was a little girl and hoped that I would one day have the chance to go. I am from Yardley, Pennsylvania and attended Pennsbury High School in Fairless Hills, PA. My love and curiousity of other cultures is what interested me in Anthropology as a major. Here at Dickinson traveling abroad is recommended and encouraged so it was easy for me to go on the Cameroon Ethnographic Research Program and to also study for a semester in Brisbane, Australia. Currently I am an intern for the Community Studies Center and therefore have created this Web page to tell others about this amazing program that is offered at Dickinson College. I hope you enjoy browisng through these pages...

-Lauren Sheehy

The Changing Status of Women in Cameroon: Closing the Gaps

The status of women in Cameroon has changed over the last few decades with some of the greatest leaps being made in the last five to ten years. Cameroon's society remains male dominated and women are still seen as subordinate, as they have been traditionally perceived. Richard Fardon states in his review of Men Own the Fields, Women Own the Crops: Gender and Power in the Cameroon Grasslands that "the old ideological values of complementarity between men's and women's worlds and work are still repeated, but practically their credibility is becoming stretched." (1999:1) This quote points to the fact that many of the traditional gender roles in Cameroonian culture are still in practice today, but there is a change taking place which allows for Cameroonian women to stretch beyond their traditionally perceived status.Today women in Cameroon, however, still have many specific obstacles to overcome to improve their status and their standard of living. These goals include gaining access to land, labor, credit, and governmental infrastructure. A greater number of women also need to become educated and trained in various fields as well as become aware of and exercise their legal and social rights.

This paper will consider some of the methods being used to obtain these goals: such as the organization of women into socially and politically active groups in Cameroon and the sensitization of both men and women. There is a discrepancy between how the Cameroonian women have traditionally been perceived and how they are being perceived as their status changes and evolves. Today's Cameroonian woman fulfills the same position as wife, mother, and breadwinner but these roles are now being altered. The economic, social, and political forces that are evolving around women are redefining their status. It remains only for this new status to be recognized and accepted within the Cameroonian society. For this gap to be closed, women need to realize their needs, become educated, and gain access to financial resources. Then, women's status in Cameroon will change both ideologically and practically in the future.