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Putting her experience to work to support women


Fatou Seck is a trained accountant from Senegal with a long‑standing interest in international development. “I was drawn to international development because it enabled me to combat poverty in a concrete way. It is very much a part of who I am,” she explained.

When her children had grown up, Fatou–whose background includes experience at the World Bank, several positions in Canada, and training in gender and microfinance–got involved in international cooperation through her volunteer roles with a number of Canadian volunteer cooperation agencies in Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali and Senegal.

“I really wanted to work with women,” Fatou said, speaking about her work with Crossroads International. In September 2017, Fatou connected with Crossroads’ Senegalese partner Union Nationale des Femmes Coopératrices du Sénégal (National Union of Women’s Cooperatives of Senegal  or UNFCS) to do volunteer work in organizational management and commercialization with the Regional Union in Dakar.

Fatou can see the impact she is having midway through her mandate. “There were some shortcomings in decision making and the keeping of management records.” Fatou began by assessing the situation, and now women at the regional union in Dakar are able to identify problems and develop solutions to them; they have established an action plan that is now in the course of being implemented. She also works on developing governance and leadership training to support the Union women to better manage the organization and take on leadership roles.

Fatou sees volunteer cooperation as a model that works and should be promoted by showcasing the work that has been done. Each of her mandates has changed her vision for international cooperation and pushed her to pursue her commitment to cooperation.

She concluded by focusing on the Crossroads programs aimed at empowering women.

“I have done a lot of volunteer work, but I had never worked with an organization or on a mandate that dealt specifically with the empowerment of women and that’s what really drew me in. It showed me that there was another way to work with women on empowerment, to give them power and a voice.”