Senegalese women leaders mobilize for peace and women’s leadership

Date: Friday, July 14, 2017

Over twenty women leaders from well-established women's organizations and civil society across Senegal convened on 6 July 2017 at the Women's Museum of the Place du Souvenir to mark the launch of the “Ettu Jamm” in Dakar, Senegal. “Ettu Jamm”, (which translates to “Peace Space” in the Wolof national language) is a women’s platform for peaceful elections in Senegal which was launched ahead of the forthcoming legislative elections to take place on July 30th 2017 across the country.

Under the leadership of Femmes Africa Solidarité (FAS) and with support of UN Women's Regional Office for West and Central Africa, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the "Ettu Jamm" platform is kicking off a series of advocacy and awareness-raising events through a caravan that will travel across 10 regions of Senegal over the next 10 days. In her opening remarks, Ms. Penda Seck Diouf, chairperson of the platform and secretary general of the Committee to Combat Violence against Women (CLVF) stated: “We will play our role as women, mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters. We will act through our three main areas of intervention namely mobilization, mediation and monitoring.”

The African Union Special Envoy for Women, Peace and Security in Africa, Ms. Bineta Diop, also chairperson of FAS, reminded participants about the assistance of the historical contribution of women to peace processes in Senegal and across Africa. "This platform was instrumental for the implementation of the law on parity in 2012. We take this opportunity to thank Honorable Mr. Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Senegal who honored us by paying a courtesy call to the platform the day after his election,” she said. Ms. Diop further made a strong appeal to women leaders and networks in Senegal and across the continent to consolidate efforts undertaken over the last two decades, recalling that, "The success of the Women’s platform for peaceful elections in Senegal has been replicated in several countries in the sub region with support from our key partners including UN Women.”

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Ms. Bineta Diop addressing the women leaders during the launch|Photo credit: UN Women, Mariam Kamara

UN Women's Regional Director for West and Central Africa, Ms. Diana Ofwona, strongly reaffirmed the institution’s commitment to support women's political participation in electoral, peace and security processes, in line with national and international conventions and the UN Security Council Resolution 1325. Ms. Ofwona revisited history stating," In 2010, Senegal put itself in the spotlight, both at the regional level and in sub-Saharan Africa, when it passed a law that established, "absolute parity between men and women in fully or partially elected assemblies”. This was followed with an increase in women’s representation from 24% in 2007 to 42.66 % in 2010.

Women leaders reaffirmed their unwavering support to the platform through their personal engagements, committing to taking actions to benefit communities and future generations. "Young people are the next generation that will lead Senegal’s social, political and economic development," said Fatima Sall, a young woman representing Mrs. Aïssata Tall Sall, former minister, MP and mayor Podor in Northern Senegal. As for Ms. Yassine Fall, representative of the NGO AWOMI and former UN Women senior economist for Africa, "This is also about encouraging our sisters. Women must support female leaders who dare to make a difference in public and political life."

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Women leaders who attended the "Ettu Jamm" launch celebrate their efforts| Photo credit: UN Women, Mariam Kamara

Upon the closing of the event, the caravan departed for the city of Thiès, located about 75 kilometers from Dakar, where organizers of “Ettu Jamm” kicked off their 10-day country-wide tour, convening a symposium and preparing for their upcoming visits to religious leaders and civil society across the country.