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General News of Monday, 4 July 2016

Source: cameroon-tribune.cm

Architecture: Women invade profession

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To date, Cameroon boasts 21 female architects duly registered with the Cameroon National Order of Architects, out of a total membership of 219.

Yet, it is only 32 years ago when Ngosso Iréne Laurence, the first female Cameroonian architect registered with the professional body in 1984.

Today, other female architects include: Anne-Marie Medou, Diwouta Kotto Danielle Estelle, Meka Engamba Stella Christiane, Assale Sadatou Aurore, Engome Caroline Véronique, Brenda Chimi Wete, Mboukock Tchoffo Germaine Flora, etc.

“According to the International Union of Architects, there were more female architects in the world than men in 2015.

This is however not the situation in Cameroon, but many Cameroonian female architects are in practice abroad,” explains Anne-Marie Medou, President of the Cameroon National Order of Architects since May 2008.

She adds that the previous situation of the virtual absence of women from the profession was as a result of lack of training opportunities in Cameroon.

“However, more ladies are taking interest in architecture by enrolling in the Fine Arts Institutes of the University of Douala in Nkongsamba, University of Dschang in Foumban and the privately-owned ESSACA architecture school in Yaounde,” Anne-Marie Medou notes.

Similarly, amongst the 21 officially recognized female architects in Cameroon, six are civil servants, including a Technical Adviser, two Directors and one lecturer; while the remaining two-thirds are in private practice.

The barriers for women in architecture are mainly psychological, she notes. Anne-Marie Medou recalls an incident when a female police officer refused her entry into a worksite in the Prime Minister’s office because she put on trousers – even after she explained that her profession demands such dressing.

Architecture is also demanding, especially for women who have to manage their homes. “Right from school, we were prepared for the fact that we will work round the clock every day. It is all about building and maintaining your professional reputation.

If I had to choose a profession again, I will still go for architecture,” she explains. On what female Cameroonian architects have to show in terms of achievements, Anne-Marie Medou says a good architectural work is not necessarily in terms of size.

“A small private residence can be more complex in design than a storey building,” she points out. As a professional, Anne-Marie Medou says she has designed amongst others, the Doual’air (catering section at the Douala International Airport) and the World Bank head office in Yaounde.

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