Birth Place: Mbiame, Mbven Sub-Division, Cameroon
Current Location: Douala, Cameroon
Occupation: Development Worker
Coming from an average home of 7 and being the only girl, life has not been easy coupled with the fact that gender stereotypes and patriarchal order does not permit women and young girls in my community to live up to their expectations. Growing in this community at one point in time, life became unbearable, especially seeing my peers becoming mothers at the age of 13, 14 and 15 and some of them being forced into early marriages especially with men old enough to be their fathers. Being a victim of forced marriage at the 15 years, I knew my world had come to an end as my education and future were at stake. Even though it was part of the culture of my people that young girls get married and get pregnant at a time they are not mature enough towards motherhood, poverty happens to be one of the causes of forced and early marriages as was my situation. I however rejected this life as I couldn’t believe nor see myself living beyond my expectations in life. This vision gave me the courage to escape from the frustrating live style in the name of marriage I found myself.
And this is how I began a new life.
The circumstances under which I escaped the enslaved marriage were so daring and so hard to believe. In the life frustrating marriage, I didn’t even pass a night in the so-called husband’s house as I escaped in the middle of the night to my aunt’s place in a nearby city who gave me a warm welcome and this is how my life turned towards positivity again. As a matter of fact, I vowed that my education will not be tampered with nor that of my peers and many young girls in my community. This desire made me look for a job in a nearby super market which became my source of hope and that’s how I was able to raise money to complete my high school right up to my university.
At 20 years of age, I started giving back to my community especially to the vulnerable girls I saw who were falling victims of what some of us had passed through. With my university experience, I decided to initiate literacy classes for young girls who had not gone to school or were school dropouts. This alone acted as an eye opener to many young girls and is one of the things I consider to be my greatest achievements in life.
At the point of starting, it was not easy to move from village to village, door to door, trying to convince parents and these young girls to see reasons with me in allowing their children to take part in these literacy classes. Most women and mothers in the community saw reasons with my brilliant initiative and sent their children to attend these classes at the start of the academic year 2009/2010, My community Mbiame saw an encouraging enrolment of Muslims and Bororo young girls at the primary level. It has been my greatest joy seeing some of having good jobs and running businesses on their own. Most women and young girls in my community have freed themselves from the frustrating culture of early and forced marriages of young girls. My desire to see many women, young girls and children get their feet back in school inspired me to create an organization by the Acronym FOWEC-CAM which means, Footsteps for Women and Children-Cameroon which woks exclusive to advance children and girls education, promote and protects the human rights of women and children as well as empowering women and young girls economically to alleviate poverty and improve livelihoods. We direct life footsteps geared towards solving most of the challenge’s women and young girls face. This aspect alone has connected me to many people round the world, both organizations and individuals and I see this as a great success especially drawing from my experiences in the past which I think is any woman’s wish who has passed through what I and many young girls in my community passed through.
What kill us women most at times is lack of self-esteem and confidence that each time we experience a situation like this, we think the world has come to an end and so therefore, they don’t find possible solutions to avail themselves from such situations. Every woman must have a vision both for herself and those around her no matter what the situation is. I therefore urge every women and young girls who have experience this situation or know others who are definitely passing through this to come out their shelves and take action now to kill every doubt, fears and worries and therefore take the mantle of leadership to solve such problems in their communities.
Remember that every situation that comes our way comes as an eye opener to prepare us to become agents of change.
So why bury yourself and the lives of many?
I believe that every woman’s wish is to be educated and be able to take decisions over matters that directly affect her life and the lives of those around her.
Juliana on the Sustainable Development Goals
In my opinion, I will say SDG4 (Quality Education) is the most important of all because all other goals centre around education.
In the words of Nelson Mandela of blessed memory, ‘Education is the only tool that brings transformation and social change in the world.’
Imagine a world where all of are educated, it means gender stereotypes will be destroyed. Women especially will have the capacity to make decisions over issues that directly affect them, their children and their communities. There will be access to quality health care services as all will know how to manage their lives. Poverty streams will be reduced and our environment well managed and protected. With this, the world will be a better place for all.