Last year the Réseau d’Appui à la Citoyenneté des Femmes Rurales d’Afrique de l’Ouest et du Tchad (RESACIFROAT) was awarded the Karen Takacs Women’s Leadership Fund grant. The organization then put in place a series of measures aimed at improving women’s participation in local governance in the rural areas of four municipalities in the Kénédougou province. The project includes information meetings, training in leadership for women and radio programs intended to provide information and raise awareness.
RESACIFROAT expects the project will increase by 25% the participation of rural women in the Binkora union on four municipal councils in the Kénédougou province in time for the next election cycle. The results are already there, women and young people (young men and women) are now ready to get involved in party politics and in the race for seats on municipal councils. The number of candidates initially forecasted by the project has been surpassed and a waiting list has been drawn up: “We are proud of the enthusiasm the women showed during the interviews we conducted in villages and communities. They clearly expressed their interest in getting out of the house and getting involved in the decisions that concern the entire community”, said Rosalie Ouoba, RESACIFROAT Coordinator.
Maminata Traore, a councillor with the Orodara municipal government, is one of the women who has stepped forward. She would like to improve her public speaking and leadership skills to enhance her ability to speak at meetings and present women’s concerns to the municipal council. According to Maminata: “There are so few women on the municipal council that often a woman alone with no support is afraid of misspeaking and being mocked by her male colleagues.” While RESACIFROAT acknowledges they have a long road ahead, the progress that has been made could encourage even more women in Burkina Faso to run for election and provide the impetus for change in politics but also in society: “I would like to see more women involved in political parties because with greater numbers we can ensure our voices are heard”, added Ms. Traore, who wants to fight to ensure women’s interests are taken into account.
The next municipal elections will determine whether the target has been achieved, despite numerous obstacles: veterans of party politics who are reluctant to make room for new recruits, husbands who refuse to allow their wives to get involved and a lack of campaign funding for women candidates. In addition, there are the problems the women themselves face in terms of being prepared to speak out in public in defense of their convictions or debating them with men.
The Karen Takacs Women’s Leadership Fund
The fund was created to celebrate Karen Takacs’ leadership during her 12 years as Crossroads International’s Executive Director and honour her legacy after her death in August 2015. The fund provides vital financial support to African organizations whose work advances women’s leadership and equality for women and girls and educational scholarships to emerging African women leaders.