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Senegal’s women: protagonists of change

They wear brightly colored, brightly hued clothes as if to affirm, through those hues, the strength of their character and their commitment to changing the fortunes of a country still heavily influenced by male-dominated thinking. These are the women of Senegal working for the full affirmation of women’s empowerment, determined to reform those norms that represent in fact, severe discrimination against them. Despite the many difficulties today, Senegalese mothers, wives, and daughters are slowly assuming important roles in society, and testimonies tell of women having increasing authority in the running of their families, their local area, and even in economic management. They are the leading players in the agriculture and livestock sectors: in fact, 82 percent of agricultural work is done by women, who ensure more than 80 percent of food production. In small steps, they are becoming decision leaders in terms of taking action for change toward protecting and supporting women’s rights.

Many of them have been left alone, without husbands, children, siblings, migrated to other countries in Africa or outside the continent, so they are the soul of the villages and by improving their condition, the conditions for a better future are created. These “amazons,” as they are called, oversee the agricultural choices to be made, ascertain the possible spatial effects, and ensure the distribution of resources and income. Strong and determined figures who, however, have to deal with many difficulties: such as access to land and seeds and, especially in rural areas, to the impossibility of following schooling paths. Therefore, to assist a true process of equality and rights, it is necessary to support and sustain this desire for change and self-determination; ASeS does this through social agriculture projects.

Enabling women to “be entrepreneurs” and be protagonists in the place where they work is the first step toward gender equality; a path that is sometimes complicated and hindered by mistrust and prejudices linked to ancient cultures and traditions; it is therefore important to build a relationship of trust with territorial institutions and associations that are already operating such as the Network of Women Producers and Transformers of the municipality of Keur Moussa, GIE that groups the Women’s Associations of 13 villages belonging to the same municipality. To this very Network, the Administration has deliberated a plot of land on which they can work and produce while feeling free, autonomous and respected. A victory to which ASeS is collaborating by offering its know-how and any other possible support to achieve the set goal. Enjoying the fruits of this journey, to the strengthening of resilience and increased agricultural productivity, will be not only the beneficiaries of the project but entire communities in rural villages, and this is because supporting the efforts of the Women’s Network means promoting the whole chain of good agriculture, contributing to food security and the eradication of rural poverty. But not only that.

Fostering these labor integration processes is the only way to guarantee women a small income, which in turn fosters autonomy and security in addition to the possibility of having health care and basic schooling. Supporting their empowerment therefore is vital for the communities in which they live, for the future of their children, for their country and, on a larger scale, for the future of the Planet. With this awareness ASeS projects are born, always carried out in agreement with the community of reference with the declared intention of empowering the protagonists of this process that, in our intent, must lead to emancipation starting precisely from the land, its products, environmental and food security, in order to generate income that allows a dignified life for them and theirs.

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