3. Promote gender equality and empower women

Literacy – Women from Tégawendé Read and Write, by Aimé Nabaloum - Presentation by Eyoum Nganguè

Established by journalist Boureima Jérémie Sigué, Le Pays was set up in Ouagadougou on 3 October 1991 during the so-called “Spring of the African press”. Today, it is the foremost independent newspaper produced by an editorial group that also owns "Wend Panga", a local radio station that broadcasts in Ouahigouya in northern Burkina. Le Pays is the second biggest private national newspaper in Burkina Faso.

As part of an association known as "Tégawendé for peace", dozens of women from district no. 4 of Ouagadougou (the capital of Burkina Faso) have organised their own literacy classes and learnt to read and write. In the Moore language, "Tégawendé" means "belief in God". This article, by Aimé Nabaloum, describes the high levels of self-belief shown by these women from the capital of Burkina Faso when they embarked on these literacy courses, which lasted for four long years. The ability to read has made these women more independent and freed them from a dependence on third parties to conduct the simplest to the most complicated day-to-day activities.

They now know how to read and write in the Moore language. These courses have also enabled them to acquire a basic knowledge of management techniques. During the ceremony at which certificates were issued to the young graduates, the representatives present encouraged them to continue to move forward, and promised to help them. The newly literate women’s main request was for further courses, specifically allowing them to acquire a basic knowledge of economics. These new courses would allow these women to become independent in most of their day-to-day activities.


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A Female Politician, by Euloge Samba

Euloge Samba was born in 1964 in Brazzaville. In 1984, during his studies, he worked as an assistant photographer at his elder brother’s studio in Pointe-Noire (Republic of Congo).

After the early death of his brother, Euloge inherited his photography studio and has devoted himself to the profession ever since. He previously worked as a cameraman in high school and at university.

From 1993 to 1996, in light of the socio-political events occurring in the Republic of Congo, he gave up photography for a time. In 2003, he participated in workshops organised as part of an EU-funded project to support the visual arts. This work, which he undertook under the direction of photographers David Damoison and Hector Medavilla, enabled him later to participate in national and international exhibitions. Euloge Samba has been part of the Collective Generation Elili since its foundation.

He has also exhibited at the French Cultural Centre in Brazzaville, at the African Photography Biennial in Bamako in 2005 and 2007, and at the 15thPhotography Biennial in Nancy in 2009.

Through his series “A Female Politician”, photographer Euloge Samba invites us to explore the changes that have taken place in his country with regard to the increasing participation of women in politics. In the series, the author presents images of a candidate standing in her country’s elections, revealing a desire for emancipation on the part of women who seek to take part in various sectors of society (economic, political, etc.).


The Millennium Declaration promotes gender equality and the empowerment of women as fundamental human rights. Progress is measured in terms of specific indicators which, in addition to education, take into account women’s participation in the economic sphere (employment, wages, social security, etc.) and access to the world of politics (in terms of recognition of fundamental rights, participation, eligibility for political office, etc.). Specifically, progress towards the objective is assessed in relation to the following indicators: (1) the number of girls for every 100 boys enrolled in primary, secondary and tertiary (university) education; (2) the number of women employed outside of the agricultural sector; (3) the number of seats held by women in the national parliament.


In terms of the proportion of seats held by women in national parliaments in general, in 2011, in many countries, the number of women elected to parliamentary assemblies has reached significant levels. In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, women hold an average of 20% of the seats.

With regard to the participation of women in decision-making in the Republic of Congo, between 1990 and 2010, the number of seats held by women in the national parliament decreased. From 14% in 1990, the percentage of seats occupied by women dropped to 12% in 2005 and to 6% in 2010. On the other hand, a study on female representation in the other institutions in the Republic of Congo carried out in 2008 presents a generally more favourable gender balance: women accounted for 12.8% of the government, 9.5% of the Court of Appeal, 16.7% of the Court of Justice, 11.1% of the Constitutional Court and 12% of the municipal councils. (United Nations Development Programme, Republic of Congo, Report on the MDGs, 2010)

After a number of decades, the voices of women’s organisations from all over the world continue to make themselves heard in their demands for equality, empowerment and autonomy for women.

Even in the Republic of Congo, today, this desire is not restricted to the sidelines. During the country’s legislative elections, many women, including the President of the Republic’s daughter, ran for office in a number of constituencies.


These women, in defending democratic systems, represent a true mainstay of democracy and play a role in preventing dictatorship. An obvious example is Aung San Suu Kyi, who fought for nearly two decades for democracy in her country, Burma.

Text and photographs by Euloge Samba

Michelle Obama Holds Up Mandela as an Example of APS to Female Students at the Martin Luther King School - Presentation by Eyoum Nganguè

Close to the Muslim confraternity of Niassènes, “Walfadjri” (which means “sunrise” in Wolof, the dominant language of Senegal) was set up as a monthly publication in 1984, and became a daily publication in 1993. A key feature of the diverse Senegalese media landscape, Walfadjri has at times stood up to politicians from all political parties. 

This article describes American First Lady Michelle Obama’s visit to Dakar and her speech to young female Senegalese students at the Martin Luther King School.

 At the end of June, US President Barack Obama and his family visited a number of African countries, including Senegal. Accompanied by his two daughters and the First Lady of the United States he visited the Martin Luther King School in Dakar, a secondary school for girls. "When girls are educated, nations become stronger and more prosperous," the First Lady told the students. In her speech, Michelle Obama cited the examples of two leading figures in the struggle for African freedom, namely Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela, encouraging the girls to get involved in Senegal’s own struggle for freedom by following these two important examples.

Michelle Obama also sought to encourage the students by citing a basic concept of the American commitment to non-violence, according to which we must consider personal trials genuine opportunities that allow us to change.

With regard to the hero of the anti-apartheid struggle, Michelle Obama said:

"If President Mandela could stand being confined to a tiny cell, being forced to do back-breaking work and being separated from those he loved the most in the world, then you can continue to go to school every day and work hard, as much as possible."

Inspired by his personal achievements, Michelle Obama urged the young Senegalese students to strive to assist in the transformation of their society. Given the popularity of the American First Lady in a number of developing countries, her speech in Dakar presents a real impetus to the struggle for gender equality and the empowerment of women in the global South. 

Source: Walf Fadjri n. 6384, 28 June 2013


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"Sterile Male-Centrism: Women and Political Participation in Cape Verde" by Suzano Coast - Presentation by Dóris Pires

Photo by Julien Lagarde


I chose this article because the author carries out an interesting analysis of political participation by women in Cape Verde, where male chauvinism is still a very prominent part of society, especially outside urban centres. The author describes the obstacles that will prevent the archipelago from achieving MDG 3 by 2015.

Download the abstract of Sterile Male-Centrism: Women and Political Participation in Cape Verde.

Download Sterile Male-Centrism: Women and Political Participation in Cape Verde.


Rural Women of Bam: Promoting the Right to Eradicate Poverty - by Alima Koanda - Presentation by Eyoum Nganguè

Photo by Ollivier Girard for Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).


The most widely read newspaper in Burkina was established on 28 May 1973 in Ouagadougou and was entitled L'Observateur. Having been banned by the revolutionary regime of Thomas Sankara in 1984, it resumed circulation on 15 February 1991 under the name of Paalga Observateur. In the local language, Paalga means "new." L'Observateur Paalga is a private newspaper.

WILDAF stands for ‘Women in Law and Development in Africa’. It is a network of women's organisations, which aim to protect and promote the rights of women and children across the Western part of sub-Saharan Africa.

As part of the "Women and Farmers in West Africa" anti-poverty project, the WILDAF branch in Burkina Faso partnered with a network of farmers’ organisations and producers in West Africa (Roppa) to train 150 women in the Kongoussi region (200 km north of Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso) in economic, social and political rights.

Kongoussi is a dry area whose water supply derives from a small body of water, Lake Bam, around which various horticultural activities have grown up. Yet the right of its inhabitants to land, and even less, to the full benefits of the fruit of their labour is not recognised. The provision of this training, which is supported by local authorities, will provide people with the strategic and legal means to better defend their rights and to escape from poverty.

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Source: Paalga Observer, no. 8308 of 7 February 2013

A Day with the Rubbish Bin - Presentation by Kpénahi Traore


More than ever before, gender is at the centre of development in most African states, especially in Burkina Faso. Women are encouraged to engage in cooperatives and private companies that can provide them with an income, or supplement existing incomes. In this context, Adjara Ilboudo is a member of an association that deals with the collection of household waste in exchange for contributions on behalf of citizens.

This video report has two goals, namely Goal 3 "Promote gender equality and empower women" and Goal 7 "Ensure sustainable human environment." The empowerment of women can be achieved through the establishment of associations and it is for this reason that the ASARED, the Association for Security and the Recycling of Waste, was founded by a group of women in 1990. Their aim was to help people in need, especially widows and orphans, by involving them in an activity. This responds to MDG 3 "promote gender equality and empower women."

In addition to promoting the empowerment of women, ASARED helps to create a cleaner environment, by going door-to-door every day to collect household waste, thus contributing to the achievement of the MDG 7, "ensure a sustainable human environment." Adjara Ilboudo has been collecting garbage for ten years, since her husband died. This activity exposes her to health risks, but she is willing to continue in order to support her family and maintain her economic independence. Despite their best efforts, these mothers are at times not well received when carrying out their work; they are victims of abuse and have to deal with families who refuse to pay.

At ASARED, the work is divided into three stages: waste collection, the collection of service fees from families, and payment by family members. Over the years, the lack of equipment (tanks, shovels and gloves) has made itself felt, according to Jeanne Zongo, the president of ASARED. The consequence is that women are forced to work without adequate protection.

Source: http://droitlibre.tv/tv/film115


"The Café Brava Project for the Empowerment of Women", by Maria de Lourdes Jesus


The text and photos on the site www.tabanka.it tell us about two key aspects of a recent collaborative initiative: the partnership between an association of Cape Verdean immigrants in Italy, and both Italian and Cape Verdean partners, in order to carry out a project aimed primarily at women with children.

Another important part of the project is its outcome: the establishment of two new businesses owned by women and the empowerment of women which has allowed them to strengthen their own businesses.

Download the abstract of "The Café Brava Project for the Empowerment of Women"

"Mariscica Was The First", Director: Anna Maria Gallone – Creator: Maria de Lourdes Jesus


They are all women and each one has a story to tell: Jorginha, Bia, Fatima, Adriana, Biazé and many others are the protagonists of a particular phenomenon – the migration of women (in the early 1960s) that contributed to the formation of Italy’s Cape Verdean community.

These are women who wanted to alter their destinies through courage and determination. They left young children with relatives in Cape Verde in order to make the journey to the "distant land" where they worked hard for many years, and through "good judgment" were able to put money aside to invest in their home country. Others were able to obtain Italian pensions after nearly thirty years working as maids for Italian families.

The documentary aims to present close-up views of the women interviewed, who through their stories, emotions and the power of their humanity are able to capture the attention of the audience and ensure that it remains fixed on the full narrative, which is presented in a dynamic and compelling montage accompanied by a moving soundtrack.

On returning to their islands of origin, these women tell us, with both satisfaction and a hint of bitterness, about the journey that took them from Cape Verde to Italy and, upon achieving their goals, back to their beloved homeland as they had planned.

Further reading: Maria de Lourdes Jesus and Annamaria Gallone’s documentary Mariscica Was The First examines the migration of Cape Verdean women to Italy at the beginning of the 1960s. The video posted here provides a brief overview of the documentary, which explores topics linked to Millennium Development Goal 3, to "promote gender equality and empower women", as well as highlighting the topic of "gender and development" and helping us to reflect on the role of these migrant women in both their host country and their country of origin.

The story is a lesson in life: the result of great strength and the capacity of human beings to change their own destinies. This is what these women have done and, just like them, many others in the world are quietly transforming the history of mankind day-by-day.

"The Craftswoman" by Euloge Samba - Congo

Target 3.A Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education preferably by 2005, and at all levels by 2015.



Gender equality, as addressed by MDG 3, is achieved when women enjoy equal opportunities to men, as well as equal access to education, and an equal ability engage in productive activity. Women are now increasingly active in the job market, often carrying out activities previously reserved for men. Such participation is evident in an ever-increasing number of countries, including many in Africa.

Download the abstract of "The Craftswoman"