Profile of Tilder Kumichii, Human Rights Defender from Cameroon

May 13, 2015

Tilder Kumichii is Programme Coordinator at Gender Empowerment and Development (GeED) based in Cameroon.

On 21 April 2015 the International Service for Human Rights [ISHR] carried an interview with Tilder Kumichii, a human rights defender from Cameroon.

My motivation to do human rights work stems from my personal experience as a young woman growing up in a patriarchal system, which forced me to marry very young and become a very young widow’.  Tilder resolved to devote her life to support other women who find themselves in a similar situation like herself. Describing herself as a woman human rights defender, she stresses that she is involved in both teaching people to understand their rights, as well as seeking accountability for violations and abuses of human rights.

Tilder has lobbied hard for a national gender policy, and is part of a group working on a draft family code in Cameroon to ensure that it is gender sensitive. Tilder conducts human rights education programmes in schools so that girls understand their rights from a young age.

Working within a patriarchal system, Tilder states that women are often regarded as property and that they must fit certain gender stereotypes. Women who transgress these boundaries and challenge these norms are seen as dangerous. ‘I have faced increasing incidents of intimidation and threats. These are directly related to my work, which involves bringing attention to cases of domestic violence and sexual harassment’.

In confronting these types of abuses, which often occur in private settings, Tilder faces backlash from anonymous individuals and members of her community. …..

‘The future for human rights defenders in Cameroon is neither bright nor bleak’. However, there are certain openings and opportunities that HRDs must make the most of. Tilder is a member of the National Human Rights Commission and the President of its Working Group 4 that looks into Special Issues, including the situation of human rights defenders. It is promising that the Commission has included a human rights defender to be part of its membership, and Tilder sees her role as one to bring the civil society voices…….

One of the biggest problems I have is how to translate the African and UN human rights standards into local realities’.  At the national level, Tilder points out that there exist many different realities coexisting at the same time. ‘Many people don’t see themselves in these documents, it is not personalised. There is a need to simplify, localise and domesticate these instruments so that it touches the daily realities of the people’. 

Tilder Kumichii: Human Rights Defender from Cameroon | ISHR.

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