Women’s Mobilisations in French Cameroon in the 1940s-1950s : The Gender Order and Colonial Order Fractured

By Rose Ndengue

During the decade after the Second World War, French Cameroon – like all the territories in the French colonial empire – experienced a social and political effervescence. This was reflected in mobilisations by Cameroonian women and rising nationalist claims, faced with the insufficiency of the political and social reforms. This paper examines how, by becoming involved in a political landscape dominated by men, Cameroonian women attempted to make their voices heard by organising to defend their own interests. The analysis of the foundations of women’s mobilisations in Cameroon casts light on the duality governing women’s presence on the political scene in a colonial context. To a certain degree, their approach expanded on the dominant social imaginary, highlighting domestic values in order to justify women intervening on the political stage. However, women’s mobilisations also aimed to defend a specific agenda for women, as well as the emergence of a new social imaginary governed by equality between the sexes.

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