Cameroon -Ntui

Pictured: A wedding party walks down the main road of Ntui, Cameroon on a Saturday evening, temporarily stopping traffic.

The Gender Road Project is about women’s empowerment and more equality between men and women in the region.

“We are in a very poor area; women have no access to land, finance, and then there’s the problem of gender-based violence,” says Emmanuel Marie Ateba, UN Women project coordinator. “When women are independent, they can negotiate sexual relations and more decision-making power within the family and the community. The more we empower women, the entire family benefits and women get more respect within the family.”

A 200-kilometre road (124 miles) project stretches between the townships of Batschenga, Ntui and Yoko, in central Cameroon. The road crosses farms, forests, water bodies and pastoral areas that sustain the mostly agrarian economy of nearly 40 villages and three towns.

The road, a basic infrastructure that many countries take for granted, literally shapes the lives and livelihood of the people living along it. It decides whether a small entrepreneur will get her products transported on time, and at what cost, and whether more people will come to a restaurant that another has invested in. It determines what markets a woman farmer can access and how often a working mother can visit her daughter who is studying in the city. The red dirt road, waiting for asphalt, will determine if food, income, job, healthcare, livelihood will come, when, and to whom.

UN Women’s “Gender Road Project”, funded by The Development Bank of Central African States and the Government of Cameroon, is aiming to reach at least 20,000 women by 2020, living in rural communities along this road, to prepare them for a better future and access to bigger markets once the road is built. The project teaches them financial and entrepreneurial skills, improved farming techniques and facilitates their access to public services and land righ