Senegal is in the westernmost part of Africa’s Sahel region, spanning 196,722 km². In 2016/17, the population is estimated at 15.4 million, with the 2013 census (its most recent) placing 23% of it in the greater Dakar region and 40% in other urban areas. Served by multiple air and maritime travel routes, Senegal is known as the “Gateway to Africa.” Senegal shares common borders with five countries (Mauritania, Mali, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau and Gambia) and has 14 regions and 45 departments.

The Government of Senegal made significant progress for the promotion of a gender-sensitive environment, through the adoption of the Parity Law, the Standard Operating Procedures on GBV, a National Action Plan on GBV/Human Rights and the Empowerment of Women, and the validation of the new National Strategy for Gender Equality and Equity. These measures have been developed and implemented under the technical leadership of the Ministry of Woman, Family and Childhood.

Senegal’s 2001 constitution guarantees equality between women and men in its article 7. The country has ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women (in 1985), and the Optional Protocol on violence against women (in 2000). The country has not reported to the CEDAW committee since 1994. Senegal ratified the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa in 2005.

Adopted in 2014, the Senegal Emerging Plan (PSE) is Senegal’s new development strategy and economic policy reference framework. It is based on three strategic pillars: (i) structural transformation of the economy and growth; ii) human capital, social protection and sustainable development; and iii) governance, institutions, peace and security.

A National Strategy for Gender Equality and Equity (SNEEG) has been developed with the support of UN Women Senegal Program Presence to run from 2005-2015. SNEEG, updated in 2016 and aligned with the Senegal Emerging Plan (PSE), which aims to:

"Contribute to make Senegal an emerging country in 2035 with a society of solidarity in a state of law, without discrimination, where men and women will have the same opportunities to participate in its development and enjoy the benefits of its growth".

SNEEG aims to eliminate inequalities between women and men so as to ensure women's rights and protection, by ensuring their full participation in decision-making processes and equitable access to development resources and benefits.

Public policies at sectoral and territorial level are part of the process of institutionalizing the gender dimension of gender sensitive budget development. In this same perspective, parliamentarians are committed to follow the budgets for their alignment in the perspective of gender, particularly the collective of women parliamentarians.

Gender-sensitive M & E mechanisms are developed by the Ministry of women family and gender in partnership with the presidency service in charge of  the BOS to produce and collect indicators and gender variables at the administrative level and at the National Statistical System level.


Gender Based Violence

With reference to researches, women are the main victims of GBV in Senegal. In 2016, a GBV situation analysis carried out in Senegal1 revealed the following key facts: i) High GBV prevalence in region; ii) Conjugal space remains the main place of production with 65% of cases of violence; iii) Sexual violence is estimated to be more than 58% of cases of GBV in Senegal. Nevertheless, in its desire to eradicate GBV and promote human rights, Senegal has strengths and significant opportunities to prevail:

* The existence of a favorable legal and political framework marked by the ratification of declarations, conventions and protocols on human rights and the voting of laws, the implementation of reforms and the development of specific policies for the fight against GBV.

* The existence, since 1974, in the Government of Senegal of a ministerial department in charge of the protection of the rights of women, the family and the child.

* The installation of 16 judicial houses throughout Senegal, equipped with mechanisms of reception and support of women victims of violence.

* Establishment of national gender mainstreamed frameworks and mechanisms on GBV: (i) National, regional and departmental levels committees and the networks of imams and young people for the abandonment of FGM, (ii) the National Strategy for Gender Equity and Equality (SNEEG).

* The formulation and the implementation of programs and projects towards women and girls: The Project for the Promotion of Women's and Girls' Rights (PAPDFF)

developed with the support of UN Women over the last few years and which has supported and empowered thousand women and girls’ victims of violence.

* Greater awareness of laws and remedies by local communities and the media;

* The increase and diversification of care structures at the national level.

Governance and Political Participation

Women represent 49% of the world’s population and 52% of Senegal’s and it is therefore crucial to ensure that decisions affecting women’s lives reflect their priorities and views. For example, women tend to be more sensitive to certain issues of development such as education, nutrition or health than men. Therefore, women’s participation in decision-making is not only essential for the democracy and the legitimacy of a political system—it is also necessary to ensure the quality of decisions taken and improve social development. Leading together, men and women can better reflect on and respond to the diverse needs of a society. Therefore, women’s political participations bring benefits for the whole society. In fact, countries with more women in politics tend to be more successful in several areas such as the quality of governance, the quality of educational systems, infrastructure investment, and perceptions of corruption.

Senegal has gained international recognition for its efforts towards political participation of women through the adoption of the Gender Parity Law (2010). As a result of this law, which demands parity on electoral lists, the proportion of seats held by women in national parliament has increased significantly from 19.2% in 2001 to 43% in the 2017 elections. This marks a major step forward in the struggle for gender equality and the promotion of women's rights and makes Senegal a leader in women’s political participation in Africa. On 30 July 2017, about 6 million Senegalese citizens voted at the legislative elections. As a result, 70 women (42%) out of 165 parliamentarians were elected compared to 64 women (39%) in 2012. Women represent 21% of ministers in the National Government (8 women out of 39 members).

Despite these progresses, regarding governance and women political participation key challenges remain in Senegal:

* It remains unclear to fully engage men in gender parity and, more generally, in the struggle for gender equality;

* The Gender Parity Law is quite unpopular among male Parliamentarian and not followed;

* The parliamentarians do not have the same understanding of the parity law and particularly the parity concept.

Women Economic Empowerment

Achieving gender equality and equity in Senegal may seem daunting in a complex socio-cultural environment marked by a strong preponderance of traditional values. However, despite women’s lower social status compared to men, joint efforts paved the way for significant progress that led to a greater recognition of women’s place and contribution to socio-economic growth. Women living in rural areas are highly active in the processing and marketing of agricultural, livestock and fishery products. Nonetheless, they are confronted with several hurdles of various nature, including a number of constraints that are yet to be overcome include:

* Access to land and land tenure security;

* Access to financing mechanisms;

* Access to factors of production and extension services;

* Effects of climate change;

* Access to markets.

In rural areas, the distribution of employment in different economic sectors reveals women’s involvement in agriculture, livestock farming and the environment where they represent 70% of the workforce.

To mitigate these constraints heightened by climate change in Senegal, the “Women’s access to land and production resources for a climate-resilient agriculture” project suggests a holistic support approach to overcome existing obstacles, and spur a genuine empowerment of women farmers.