West Africa: Women at the heart of PRIDE

From the very first moments of my mandate as a volunteer, I was marked by the active involvement of women working within the different partner organizations of the IBCR’s project for the integral reinforcement of children’s rights (PRIDE), such as the Association of Women Lawyers of Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso and the Carmelite Sisters of Togo, gathered around a common interest and cause.  

Every day, I am fascinated to see these women assert themselves, take their place in their communities, and gradually contribute to a more just and egalitarian society for children, especially girls.

They are true everyday heroes, who fight and stand up against many injustices and violence (including excision, early marriage and sexual violence) that children suffer, by implementing various actions of advocacy, training, awareness and care.

These key players in the child protection system are the relays that enable the authorities to better perceive the needs and realities of children, their parents and communities. They also play the role of spokespersons by raising awareness in the community by addressing fathers, mothers, children, neighborhood and village chiefs and religious leaders about the behavioral changes that must be made to promote and protect the rights of the child. They are at the heart of the action and are an undeniable force for PRIDE’s success.

 

 

This blog post was written by Dieyla Thiam, currently deployed in Senegal as Regional Manager – Sub-Saharan Africa for the PRIDE volunteer cooperation program.

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Photo-Centre Kekeli 

 

This work, it must be said, is not without pitfalls. They are often confronted with reticence, socio-cultural difficulties and must constantly rethink their strategies. Concretely, they must combine patience and tenacity, develop an instinct for knowing when to “step back to jump better” and when to take the plunge, simply with their convictions and their desire to see things evolve and change.

To tell the truth, I am not surprised that these women, who have volunteering and volunteerism in their DNA, have thus committed themselves to this volunteer cooperation program alongside the IBCR. Who better to understand, welcome and collaborate with other volunteers from Canada and around the world, driven by the same desire to get involved and work for a fairer and more egalitarian world for children?

In my opinion, this exchange of expertise and experience, this meeting between jurists, religious and specialists coming from different backgrounds, is surely one of the key points of the program and one of the best ways to generate sustainable actions for the protection of children’s rights.

There is a Wolof proverb that says that “Tchin bou naré nékh sou bakhé khégn”, which means “A good smell always announces a good dish”. I feel privileged to be able to work with these women on a daily basis and I look forward to continuing our collaboration.

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Photo-Centre Kekeli