Editorial – April 2023
Dear members, dear partners,
March 8 was the International Women’s Rights Day and the Sahel Alliance wanted to dedicate this edition of the newsletter to Sahelian women. They are key players in the economic and social life of the region and contribute significantly to the development and peace-building of their communities. Numerous studies, supported or shared within the Alliance, illustrate this observation and help identify the means to further support the actions of women in the Sahel.
Despite progress and efforts to promote gender equality, discrimination against women remains a particular concern in the Sahel. Women and girls face several challenges, particularly in rural and peri-urban areas, where their rights, such as access to education, land or sources of financing, are limited.
The vast majority of them are active in the informal sector and in agriculture. This increases their exposure to attacks by armed terrorist groups that are concentrated in the rural and border areas of several countries in the region. They are also more vulnerable to the hazards of climate change effects.
These various shocks limit and weaken the means of agricultural production and processing while weakening the potential of income-generating activities.
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimates that the majority of people in need of humanitarian assistance in the countries of the central Sahel are women. It also points out that the closure of schools in areas of high vulnerability increases the risk of overexposure of young girls to early marriage.
Accompanying the empowerment of women and supporting their economic activities are major levers of action in the short, medium and long term towards growth and stability in the region. At the heart of social connections locally, women, through their actions, contribute to preserving what is essential, particularly in areas of great fragility and crises.
This was identified as a priority by our governance bodies, and the Alliance adopted in 2020 a Declaration on the implementation of UN Resolution 1325 – Women, Peace and Security – in the Sahel. The Gender Thematic Group formed around the African Development Bank and the French Development Agency is contributing to advancing its implementation.
More than half of the projects labelled by the Sahel Alliance have a component with a significant gender objective.
Several examples are illustrated in this newsletter. During the last Operational Steering Committee of the Alliance in December 2022, representatives of women’s organisations from the Sahel were given the opportunity to share their findings and draw on their recommendations for more gender equality in the region.
Our efforts must therefore be strengthened and the share of projects financed by Sahel Alliance members with gender as their main objective must be increased.
In order to provide, together, coordinated and adapted responses to this major challenge for the future of the region, I invite you to discover in this edition the testimonies of those who, fighting for gender equality, can enlighten us on the levers of action and the priorities to contribute to more just and equitable societies.
Wishing you a pleasant read,
Studies on gender issues in the Sahel, published recently:
Niger: conséquences de l’insécurité pour les filles et femmes de Tillabéri – In Niger, the consequences of insecurity for girls and women in Tillaberi (ISS Africa, 2022)
Africa Gender Index Report (AfDB & ECA, 2019)
Obstacles et solutions à l’inclusion socioéconomique des femmes (CIPE, 2023)
- Strengthening the role of women in development in the Sahel (3 examples)
- Women’s role for peace and development (interview with Céline Tranagda)
- Contribute to the Effectiveness of Women’s and Girls’ Rights (interview with Christiane Zaï/Nikiema, Association of Legal Expert Women of Burkina Faso)
- Interview with Sabine Bouda Sidpawalemdé, national coordination of the G5 Sahel Women’s Platform in Burkina Faso
- Story of Bénédicte Bailou, appointed to the ALT in Burkina Faso