Today, millions of women live without education, vocational training, and jobs. Victims of discrimination and inequality, they find themselves deprived of the freedom to make their own choices. In Burkina Faso, West Africa, Aide et Action is working to fight against this injustice, by supporting women to gain greater autonomy.
This year, our Learn to Change project, developed in Burkina Faso in partnership with the L’Occitane Foundation and the Nununa Federation, is about to wrap up. Over the course of four years, this project sought to promote economic empowerment and leadership for women. Through literacy, teaching life skills, and supporting the management of income-generating activities, hundreds of Burkinabé women have seen their lives transformed!
According to the evaluation of the services of the Ministry of National Education of Burkina Faso, the success rate of our literacy program is more than 95%. Developed in the center-west of the country, it welcomed nearly 120 women from five different women’s groups in Gallo, Sapouy, Oupon, Gao, and Lan.
Bringing sustainable solutions
“I had never set foot in a classroom”, says Rasmata. “I know I have to keep learning to keep improving … but today I can read and write numbers. I can use my phone and I can do basic calculations.” Rasmata is not alone in appreciating the benefits of the program. All of the women who have taken advantage of this opportunity are unanimous in their opinion of how huge a contribution literacy can make in everyday life.
Likewise, training in life skills had a significant impact. Avoiding standing water to reduce the risk of mosquito-related diseases, covering meals to avoid contamination, or even washing your hands regularly to get rid of bacteria – these are all valuable hygiene lessons that beneficiaries are now integrating into their daily practices. “The training opened our eyes”, says Pascaline. “I now understand that to avoid malaria, you have to sleep under a mosquito net. It is also necessary to avoid having stagnant dirty water and to clean the latrines.”
Offering complete training
The different women’s groups chose their own income-generating activities which they wanted to develop. Beekeeping, poultry and pig farming, parboiling of rice and the sale of dolo (local beer) were some of the activities chosen. After extensive training and the support of technicians from decentralized state services, the women managed to obtain significant revenue. Despite difficult beginnings in these areas, previously reserved for men, now the proceeds from the sale of each group are deposited in an account at the credit union, a local microfinance institution.
Extending the female dynamic
Another positive impact as a result of the project is the strengthened relationships between the women in the groups and their sense of solidarity which has allowed them to work closely together with shared objectives. The project has also strengthened their relationships agents of the State’s technical services, enabling them to reach out to the agents when needed. With contact now established, they feel confident that they can call on them for their support and advice.
With these encouraging results, we wish to extend the momentum and ensure the continuity of the economic promotion of Burkinabe women. Currently, we are developing our Training for Women Leadership Service (FORSELF) project, to be implemented in the country’s capital Ouagadougou. We are convinced that financial autonomy and knowledge are two essential pillars to promote women’s leadership and economic empowerment and thus improve their freedom to make their own choices.