Publication details

“Am I More than a Housewife”? An Exploration of Education, Empowerment, and Gender Preference in Relation to Female Genital Cutting/Mutilation in the Far North Region of Cameroon


NYOK Maurine Ekun

Year of publication 2023
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Journal of International Women's Studies
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Social Studies

Web article - open access
Keywords Female genital cutting/mutilation; Marginalization; Feminism; Violence; Gender inequality; Women in Cameroon
Attached files
Description Despite the United Nations (UN) efforts to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women, gender discrimination remains visible in most regions of Cameroon. Traditional practices such as female genital cutting/mutilation and early marriage violate the human rights of their victims and continue to perpetuate gender gaps, leaving women vulnerable and dependent on their male counterparts for their daily needs. The aim of this ethnographic study is to examine the influence of the traditional practice of female genital cutting/mutilation (FGC/FGM) in the face of modernity and as a driver of gender inequality. Study participants were girls and women from the Far North Region of Cameroon and activists and academics involved in the study of FGC/FGM. A total of 36 participants were interviewed. This study shows that within these communities, the practice of FGC/FGM contributes to constructing gaps between men and women in education, empowerment, and offspring gender preference. By examining how these gaps are perpetuated, this study highlights the reasons for the region's high illiteracy rate among women, the lack of female empowerment, and why parents prefer having male children over female children. This study also reveals that women in this part of Cameroon are primarily recognized only in specific areas of life, such as in the “housewife” role, their ability to satisfy their husbands, start biological reproduction, and perform household chores. Victims of FGC/FGM are often limited to household roles, thereby depriving them of fundamental human rights and opportunities. This study contributes to the existing research on how the practice of FGC/FGM promotes gender inequalities in different areas of life. This work is rooted in the shared experiences of women themselves, revealing how they conceptualize the practice of FGC/FGM.
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