Stability and Change in the Representations of Female Politicians in Cameroon

  • Iari Sakki University of Helsinki
  • Minttu Salminen University of Helsinki
Keywords: social representations, female politicians, Cameroon, stability and change


Women’s participation in politics is low throughout the world – also in Cameroon. In

this article we examine young Cameroonians perceptions of women politicians. To

analyse Cameroonians perceptions of women in politics from a perspective of change

we took social representations theory (SRT) as our theoretical starting point. All

together 45 Anglophone and Francophone students participated in eight focus groups

discussions conducted in 2011 in Buea, Cameroon. Our analyses showed that women’s

political participation questions some self-evident antinomies such as men/women,

tradition/modern, domestic/politics, leader/follower and public/private. The talk about

female politicians is tension between stability and change. We identified several

rhetorical resources–anchors and objectifications– such as African context, tradition,

religion, male icons and conflict, which were used to maintain the stability. We argue

that complementarity and respect are the main themata in Cameroonian society that

maintain the stability and gender roles and do not allow the representation of female

politician to develop.

Author Biographies

Iari Sakki, University of Helsinki

INARI SAKKI is a post doctoral researcher in the Social Psychology Unit at the University of

Helsinki. Her research interests include social representations, collective memory, identity,

otherness and gender in the contexts of history teaching, textbook research, national and

European identity, the rise of far right and human rights. Together with prof. Anna-Maija Pirttilä-

Backman and Dr. Raul Kassea she has previously studied social representations of human rights,

women rights and gender roles in Cameroonian context. She completed her PhD in Social

Psychology at the University of Helsinki on the topic of social representations of European

integration in textbooks of five countries.

Minttu Salminen, University of Helsinki

MINTTU SALMINEN is a researcher in the Social Psychology Unit at the University of

Helsinki. Minttu completed her MA in Social Psychology on the topic of social representations of

female politicians in Cameroon. Her research interests include gender, development and