In an exclusive discussion with women’s organizations the day after he emerged as the winner of Senegal’s Presidential election on 25 March President-Elect Macky Sall outlined his vision for improving the lives of Senegalese women.
“I will listen to women. I will respect and promote their rights. You can count on me”, he said in a meeting in Dakar with the Women’s Platform for Peaceful Elections in Senegal (known as ETTU Jamm or Plateforme de veille des Femmes pour les elections apaisées au Sénégal). The organization, which is supported by UN Women, aims to prevent conflict through mediation in Senegal, and monitors elections from a gender perspective through a platform called the Situation Room.
Regional Director for UN Women, Ms Josephine Odera, who attended the meeting, expressed the agency’s continued support, in ensuring that women’s priorities are planned for, financed and implemented in Senegal. “We are confident that you will integrate womens leadership in your administration and that the institutional structure to respond to women’s priorities will be re-enforced”, she said.
Inspired by women’s mobilization during Liberia’s recent elections, the Situation Room was coordinated by Femmes Africa Solidarité (FAS), and brought together national and international Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) focused on promoting women’s rights, peace building, and ending violence against women and girls. The President-Elect highlighted the contributions of such women’s organizations to the civic observance of the electoral process, and said that they had been critical for peaceful elections in Senegal. He encouraged women to expand this strategy in the lead up to the parliamentary elections in June.
Supported by UN Women, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and with the participation of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR), the Women’s Platform had trained and deployed 50 women leaders from Senegal and neighboring countries to act as observers during the first and second rounds of the presidential elections, held on 26 February and 25 March. In accordance with Security Council Resolution 1325 and its related resolutions on Women, Peace and Security, the Platform aims to ensure the active participation of women and girls in peaceful, democratic electoral processes.
During the meeting, President Sall also highlighted the key role that women play in political, economic and social life, in Senegal and internationally.
He focused in particular on rural women, deploring many of the common inequalities, from trekking kilometers for water, to limited access to education and health, and the double or triple burdens of domestic labour.
The president also raised the need to sensitize rural populations to embrace women’s leadership.
Other women leaders from Senegal and across the continent who were part of the platform for peace, (Guinea, Mauritania, Mali , Liberia, Kenya, Uganda, Burkina Faso and more) expressed the hope that the new president would implement the parity law enacted in May 2011 and deals with gender inequalities legally and institutionally. In an ensuing lively debate, M. Sall affirmed his commitment to the parity law. “I will not reverse the gains”, he assured.