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Cameroon - Aichatou'story: the power of birth certificates

© UNICEF/Cameroon/2009/Naoussi
Aichatou, 15, showing proudly her birth certificate.

On November 20th, we celebrate anniversary of the Convention on the rights of the child. This portrait is part of a series that shows progress and challenges in advancing children’s rights in a region where some of the lowest human development indicators in the world are found.

Yaounde, Cameroon, 4 November 2009 - "My name is Aichatou Ibrahima. I am 15 years old and I live in Ngaoundere, in the Northern Region of Cameroon.

 It was only in 2007 that I got my birth certificate and its changed my life.

It happened after my parents attended a community meeting hosted by UNICEF on the importance of having a birth certificate.

They went to great lengths to get one for me. They had to go through legal procedures to obtain my birth certificate thirteen years after the day I was born.

With technical help from Adamaoua Solidarite, a local NGO, and financial help from UNICEF they managed to do it.
I feel I have an identity in society now. Many opportunities have opened up to me.

For example, I was able to go to school and pass my exams and get the 'First School Certificate' which allows me to enter secondary school.

Today, I’m proud to say that I’m in Form One at the Lycee of Bamyenga school.

I’m really happy I can continue my education.
My education will help me become like Madam Yaou Aissatou when I grow up.

As the previous Minister of Women’s Affairs and  the current Director of the National Investment Company (SNI) in Cameroon, she is a role model for me. Just like her, I hope that with my education I will be able to empower women in my region and across the entire nation.

Many thanks again to UNICEF and Adamaoua Solidarite for helping me get this important identity document."

By Olivia Mukam





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