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International Women’s Day: Unsung Heroines of Bamenda

Bih Sylvia and Wanchia Cynthia

A famous mantra, "what a man can do, a woman can do an even better" can be transcribed as the true story of two Bamenda’s media women, Bih Sylvia Atanga and Wanchia Cynthia.

In the midst of what seems like a raging storm of chauvinism that scares away most women from their dreams, Bih Sylvia Atanga has stood her ground. She is an all-around woman as she can be found standing tall in the domain of communication, a dexterous teacher, a caterer of high caliber, and also a proud mother.

Bih Sylvia Atanga, Journalist, caterer, teacher and a mother

To her, her motivation comes from the fact that she believes she can do anything that she sets her mind to do.

"Chauvinism is a norm in Cameroon because we are Africans in an African country with inherited norms and cultures from our forefathers. This however is not a stumbling block to anyone especially women, who should do the extra of breaking stereotypes and creating change for themselves. That is the mindset I carry and that is the reason for some of the things I do. I believe I can do anything I set out my mind to do. This is to say, I set both short and long-term goals and I work hard in achieving them. Some of the goals are not just for me, but my community as well. I do what I do as a contribution to bringing the change I wish to see in my community. I am a talker-doer person. Of course with Christ in me, I can do all things for he strengthens me", Bih Sylvia Atanga told The Safeguard.

Bih Sylvia Atanga

Wanchia Cynthia is another heroine that has come under our spotlight. She is a journalist who has carved out a niche for herself in sports reporting. The award-winning sports journalist is the Team Media Officer of Cameroon elite one club and 2013 Cup of Cameroon winners, Yong Sports Academy of Bamenda.

Wanchia Cynthia, Journalist, Team Media Officer of Yong Sports Academy

Succeeding in a field where it is difficult for women to venture is certainly not easy. Her journey started some nine years ago. Wanchia Cynthia recounts her success story and the hurdles she faces daily.

"I picked up reporting football and sports in general when I realized it was necessary to carve a niche for myself and avoid being a master of all trade. The start wasn't an easy one but I never gave up. I still vividly remember how I got names of teams and players wrong and people laughed but I was determined", she told the Safeguard.

Cynthia's interest led her to host the LFPC award for two years running at the Hilton Hotel in Yaounde, Cameroon. She says the experience was exceptional and fulfilling.

"My dedication to what I do further allowed me to anchor the sports news over Radio Hot cocoa, CBS radio, and Ndefcam Radio. I was later appointed as Team Press Officer for Yong Sports Academy from 2019 till date", she added.

"I appreciate my colleagues, especially the men who have always given support, especially the first day I got into the field and they cheered me up all the way. The list is exhaustive but I say Thank You all and especially to the management of Yong Sports Academy who found me competent to manage the media unit of the team".

Despite her strides in the field, Cynthia says the journey in the sports world hasn't been without hurdles.

"I still find people who undermine women venturing into the field of football reporting and sometimes you find it demoralizing to your efforts. The working environment further makes it difficult to effectively be performant within our context amongst hurdles".

Asked if women are limited to certain income-generating activities, Bih Sylvia Atanga says there are not and it's just a stereotype.

"Women like men have free natural gifts of talents and can use it in whatever sphere they choose. The world today is a business world. All it takes is opening your eyes and mindset, seeing the opportunities at your disposal, and starting any business that meets your desires. I am talking from experience, with 10.000FCFA one can start a business", she said.

She added that women must be intentionally focused driven to succeed in whatever business. They should meet others in the same field, ask questions, learn and move.

To Wanchia Cynthia, women are capable of engaging in anything they set their minds to achieve.

"We have women endowed with intelligence and creativity to turn just anything into a source of income. No woman is limited to any income-generating activity", Cynthia said.

She regretted that we are in a society where standards have been set to reduce women to particular roles or pass judgment on those who dare to be different while calling on women never to allow anything to stop them from reaching and achieving their dreams.

For women to be successful, Bih Sylvia and Wanchia Cynthia say they have to be consistent, determined and have the desire to grow and carry out research in their field for improvement.
From all indications and thanks to the relentless efforts of these women and many others, financial autonomy for women is gradually being recognized.

In a deeply patriarchal and chauvinistic society like Cameroon's, the man is the breadwinner of the family while the woman is treated more like a dependent object, concerned more with domestic affairs.

But as time goes by, things have evolved thanks to the increasing rate of literacy and the advent of technology, women have become more and more financially autonomous and great partners with men in issues of development.
With this, a good number of women have succeeded and are role models for others.

By Nji Nelson Chefor

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