Focus on International Women's Day: President Macky Sall is determined to make women a priority

Focus on International Women's Day: President Macky Sall is determined to make women a priority

Focus — Thursday, March 08, 2018

The President of Senegal has stated: “Year 2018 will be a social year, dedicated to women, young people, the elderly and those who live with a disability.” Today, 8 March, International Women's Day, we are taking a closer look at the achievements and undertakings of the Head of State when it comes to gender equality.

Women account for more than half of the Senegalese population. Consequently, their empowerment, training & education, and integration into society are key steps on the way to the nation’s dynamic toward emergence. The President of the Republic has endeavoured unwaveringly, since he came into office, to institute policies that effectively enable empowerment and equal rights for women. Year 2018 stands out for the budget earmarked for youth and women’s issues, higher than ever previously.

In the legislative area

The President of the Republic conducts policies aimed at achieving the Sustainable Development Goals with regard to Goal 5: “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”. The above reflects the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the Programme for Sustainable Development Looking Ahead to 2030, adopted by world leaders at a landmark United Nations Summit in September 2015, which came into effect on 1 January 2016. These goals are aimed at putting an end to poverty in all its forms, combat inequalities and tackle global warming. They build on the success of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and aim to go further. These new goals are unique in the sense that they are a call to action from all the signatory countries, with the aspiration of promoting prosperity all the while protecting the planet. The fight for women’s equality plays an important part in this, because Goal 5 is dedicated entirely to it.

In Senegal, multiple legislative measures have been adopted to defend strict equality between women and men. On 7 January 2016, the Technical Committee for the Revision of Discriminatory Legislative and Regulatory Provisions against Women and Girls was instituted. Alongside it, a Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women was issued, in the nation’s 6 languages. Discrimination between men and women in employment, pay and taxation is now prohibited.

Women may become part of decision-making bodies thanks to the law establishing absolute parity between men and women for all fully or partially elected institutions. Moreover, the military and paramilitary bodies are open to them.

In addition to these measures, the Head of State has adopted a full-fledged Action Plan to strengthen women's leadership. It covers the period 2016-2019 and is driven by the aspiration to create an environment conducive to the economic and social development of Senegalese women. A multisectoral plan, it is aimed at establishing, in an inclusive and participatory spirit, institutional mechanisms and strategies for the socio-economic advancement of women, particularly rural women. This is of paramount importance to the Government of Senegal.

Regarding rural affairs

Rural affairs and the agricultural world, are areas in which women are over-represented. Aware of their emancipatory nature, the President of the Republic Macky Sall is committed to contributing to scaling back the work of rural women in accordance with the strategic aims set out in the Agenda 2063.

He in fact went out to meet face-to-face with these women who make such a crucial contribution to Senegal's economic activity. On 13 February 2018, at the Grand Théâtre de Dakar, the President presented cheques worth  CFAF 700 million to women wholesalers and processors of fish products. He also announced that CFAF 1 billion would be allocated in 2018 to women micro-wholesalers, wholesalers, processors and aquacultresses of traditional fishing.

The Head of State has also established an Emergency Community Development Programme (PUDC) to speed up the empowerment of rural women. It should also be noted that women can now own land under the conditions set out by law.

Lastly, the NEPAD/Kingdom of Spain Fund for Capacity Building in Agricultural Techniques in Africa, particularly for rural women, promotes the empowerment of women in agriculture. This empowerment is fundamental to improving the living conditions of populations in Senegal.

Regarding entrepreneurship

More broadly, the President of the Republic is committed to promoting the financing of youth and women's entrepreneurship. He also spoke in favour of liberalising the financing framework granted to women, recalling that the latter are players in development.

To this end, the Head of State instructed his government to set up a rationalisation and optimisation plan for the various tools and mechanisms for improving the status of women. Regional consultations and an inter-ministerial council on women's entrepreneurship are also scheduled to take place, at a National Forum on Women's Entrepreneurship and Economic Advancement.

President Macky Sall is also behind the creation of the DER/FJ, Delegation General for  Fast-Track Entrepreneurship that will be endowed with a significant credit line exclusively dedicated to women and young people. This delegation will be accompanied by the creation of a Fellowship for Fast-Track Entrepreneurship that will help promote female entrepreneurship.

Regarding education

Lastly, girls’ education is at the heart of the President’s political project. Senegal cannot achieve emergence without training its daughters. Head of State Macky Sall reiterated this at the 30th Summit of the African Union: “Girls' education is an imperative for a balanced and just world. It is a battle I am waging ardently”. In Senegal, prestigious institutions are already working daily in this direction. For example, the Mariama Ba Education House, created in 1977 to stimulate excellence in girls’ education, receives young pupils from the elementary cycle, after a very selective national competition. It is the President’s firm belief that support for girls' education must also include matching training opportunities to the needs of the economy.

Lastly, many initiatives dedicated specifically to girls have been set up, such as the Girls' Education Support Programme (PAEF), which awards scholarships to girls from poor families.