The discursive construction of a ‘model Cameroonian woman’ within the Cameroonian Parliament


  • Lilian Atanga University of Dschang



Cameroon, parliament, gendered discourses, discursive strategies, model cameroonian woman


This paper examines the discursive construction of a ‘model Cameroonian woman’ in the Cameroonian parliament. Model here is used to indicate a popular ideal. The starting point for this paper comes from discourses articulated within the wider society that tend to be rearticulated in public formal contexts such as the parliament. The data comes from a wider study (see Atanga 2007) and constitutes recordings from parliamentary sessions in Cameroon, which are transcribed and translated into English. I draw on Wodak’s discourse-historical approach to Critical Discourse Analysis (Wodak 2001; Wodak and Meyer 2009) to analyse the data. This involves the identification of traditional gendered discourses articulated within the parliament and the discursive strategies used to legitimate them. The identification of these discourses is based on Sunderland’s (2004) discourse identification approach. For the legitimation (see Reisigl and Wodak 2001) I examine arguments used to legitimate the construction of a ‘model Cameroonian woman’ and which serve to build in-groups and out-groups, and which sustain and maintain the status quo (e.g. of women as domestic or women as cooks). These strategies may include both a specific rhetorical style and arguments to legitimate the discourses. This study shows the ideological battles and challenges which Cameroonian men and women are faced with in an era of globalisation.

Author Biography

  • Lilian Atanga, University of Dschang

    Lilian Atanga is a Senior Lecturer in the University of Dschang, Cameroon. She specializes in the area of gender and language and discourse analysis. She is particularly interested in the way Cameroonian women negotiate gender relations in political contexts, especially in parliament, and how gender identities are discursively constructed within society. Her publications include Gender, Discourse and Power in the Cameroonian Parliament (2010), Bamenda.


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How to Cite

Atanga, L. (2012). The discursive construction of a ‘model Cameroonian woman’ within the Cameroonian Parliament. Gender and Language, 6(1), 21-45.