UN Women Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka begins today an official visit to Senegal, with the purpose of highlighting the importance women’s economic empowerment in agricultural sector in Senegal, to encourage closing the gap in discriminatory laws and to promote women leadership and political participation.
Women farmers contribute up to 70% of the workforce and provide more than 80% of agricultural production in Senegal, especially in food crops, but many disparities persist between men and women, including issues of access to land, skills, financial resources and markets.
As part of her stay, the Executive Director will visit the network of women farmers of the North (REFAN), a women’s cooperative working on the production and trading of rice which aims to empower at least of 30,000 women farmers in Senegal by 2021, supported by UN Women under the “Agriculture, Women and Sustainable Development” (AGRIFED) programme. Mr. Papa Abdoulaye Seck, Minister of Agriculture, and Ms. Salimata Diop Dieng, Minister of Women, Family and Gender, will join the project visit. Since the project started in 2017, over 10,000 women in the cooperative have benefited from the creation of local selling points for rice distribution in Dakar and in different region of Senegal, that allowed them to increase their rice sales.
The Executive Director is also expected to meet with the President of Senegal Mr. Macky Sall, the Minister of Justice Mr Ismaila Madior Fall, as well as the second Vice-President National Assembly Ms. Awa Gueye, to advocate for increased political participation of women at leadership level. In 2010 the country adopted a law which requires political parties to ensure that at least half their candidates in local and national elections are women. While the law increased the number of women elected at the national level in the July 2012 legislative elections, there are still gender gaps in other decision-making bodies that need to be addressed.
The need to move forward with the implementation of another law that calls for allocating 15% of public procurement to small women entrepreneurs will also be a subject of discussions during the visit. The mission will provide an opportunity to engage with young women entrepreneurs and interact with Civil Society Organizations. Mlambo-Ngcuka will be accompanied by Jaha Dukureh, Regional UN Women Ambassador for Africa and activist, who focuses her efforts on ending child marriage and female genital mutilation.
Alpha BA, Regional Communications Specialist