Single Women in CameroonJanuary 19th, 2022
Single women in Cameroon, especially those in their late 20s to 30s, are often stigmatised due to the fact that they are unmarried. In many cases, they are barely acknowledged or respected, regardless of their accomplishments. But 28-year-old Luchelle Feukeng, a correspondent from that country, argues that a woman is much more than her marital status and should be treated with the same level of dignity and respect that her married counterparts receive.
Thirty years old and still single. It’s blasphemous! Or is it?
In Cameroon, many women in their late 20s to 30s who are neither married nor in a relationship face immense stigma. ‘Where is your husband? ‘Why are you still not married?’ might be some of the questions they are asked on a regular basis. For many, it is extremely frustrating, but more so, it is unwarranted.
In September 2013, Phanie, a young Cameroonian, celebrated her 29th birthday. Phanie was very happy as she reflected on all she had achieved before the age of 30. But as she celebrated, one guest at her party asked “When are you getting married?”. Phanie was shocked. She had never considered this to be a big deal and was simply ecstatic that at 29 years old, she had a job, a house and her diplomas. But it seemed her guest, and surely many others in her entourage, did not perceive the situation as she did. Her accomplishments had meant nothing, because for many, a woman is not truly admired or respected in society if she is single, even if she has accumulated her own wealth.
Phanie is not the only girl who has faced this kind of stigma in Cameroon, a patriarchal society where people still think that for a woman to have worth, she should be standing beside a man. There is no doubt that marriage is indeed a good thing. But should we consider it as problematic if a woman at a certain age is still single?
Here is what Clarisse, another hardworking, single woman had to say: “Some months ago, I handed some gifts to my mother for her birthday, and she was very happy. But later, she told me that the gift would have been more meaningful if it was given by my husband and I.” “This statement really shocked me,” added Clarisse. Does the value of a handbag change if it is given by a single woman versus a married one? The pressure society puts on single women in Cameroon is extremely high. And the situation is even more difficult for them because they feel accused of something for which they do not have full control.
The fact is that marriage is an agreement between two people that they will spend the rest of their lives together. Some women remain single perhaps because they have not yet found a serious partner, because some men are intimidated by their social or economic status, or even because they have been deceived in the past and are afraid to move forward. Maybe they need to heal before starting another relationship. Unfortunately, some women have entangled themselves in problematic marriages just to avoid the criticism from society, to be accepted and regarded as worthy. But later, they are forced to face the negative consequences of such unions alone, without any external support.
Though marriage is an admirable step in life, it is time people understood that a woman can be single and unencumbered. One’s life is meaningful when it brings change, it inspires and is led by the intent to help others. Thus, a single woman and a woman who is married are just as valuable if they possess the same attributes. Let her character, her drive, her merits and impact on others be the deciding force in how a woman is treated. Surely, words alone will not change the situation overnight, but constant reminders that women are worth more than the man they marry can help in changing the way single women are perceived in society.
Thirty years old and still single? Well, single or married, you are worthy.
Photo Credit: Unsplash
About the Correspondent: Hi, I am Luchelle Feukeng. Journalism is my passion. My dream is to become an international journalist. I like writing on everything that is related to ICT. I want to become the queen of the web through my writings. I think a computer and little effort are enough to change the world.