Anne Stella FOMUMBOD

AFRICA · Cameroon

A unique Charter for widows

The rural women of North West Cameroon produce 60 per cent of the region’s agricultural output. However the means they dispose of are very elementary and they hardly enjoy the fruits of their harrassing labor. So Anne Stella set up a series of innovative programs to help them.

 She created a group entitled “Fund for the mobilisation of women” to enable them to have access to micro credit to acquire their own farm, land and goods. Through her organisation “InterFaith Vision Foundation Cameroon” (IVF Cam) she brought together 50 different widows groups, which enabled them to be recognized by bodies like UNDP and to have greater freedom in their activities, including access to markets. To lighten the manual labour, she offered them tools and seeds which made their productivity skyrocket from 30 to 120 kilograms per month.

A major change took place in the life of many women and young girls thanks to the sensitization programs concerning HIV/AIDS. They were warned against the dangers inherent in remarriage and the responsibility of parents. Anne Stella facilitated access to microcredit for 40 other women’s communities in the region, including women victims of HIV/AIDS.

Anne Stella also launched literacy programs for the women of the region to enable them to acquire much needed skills, which in turn encouraged changes in their communities. She organized training sessions to guarantee property rights and access to land for women. The status of women was a challenge to the deplorable status of widows in the region. She organized the widows of 43 communities around this injustice. In a concerted effort, they brought traditional chieftains together to educate them concerning the huge gap between customs and women’s rights in their area, and to encourage them to re-examine traditional practices. But her most outstanding contribution was the promulgation of the “Metta Charter on Widowhood“, a première in the history of her country enabling major progress for widows.