Extraordinary Women in West Africa


Dakar (Senegal) – March 7, 2017

To celebrate International Women’s Day, the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) will organise a series of activities including a panel discussion on the role of women in leadership and governance, the screening of a documentary film that traces the everyday life of five women in the region and the opening of a photo exhibition, to emphasis the exceptional contribution of everyday women to development in West Africa.

In May 2016, OSIWA launched a campaign to highlight West Africa’s women’s amazing resilience to the many barriers to full enjoyment of their rights. “Women produce 90% of our food, and as entrepreneurs, they own a third of all farms as well as the majority of informal sector businesses. They play equally important, yet unacknowledged leadership roles. West African women are the key to releasing the region’s productive potential,” says Afia Asare-Kyei, Equality, Justice & Human Rights Program Manager at OSIWA.

In the course of 2016, the Foundation organised three panels to discuss cultural barriers to women’s rights, as well as barriers to access to land, education and health. On March 8, 2017, the campaign “Everybody’s business: Women’s Rights in West Africa” continues with a panel to discuss women in leadership and governance.

The photo exhibit and documentary details, the eventful life journey, of women like Jumama, a Liberian woman who begins her day in the field, attends high school during the day, and takes care of her family of  7 kids and a disabled husband in the evening. The photos also immortalize the daily lives of Jeanette from Guinea, Sofia from Niger, Uduak from Nigeria and Maah Keita from Senegal. “These are women who still fight to get by. They are a living proof that by eliminating gender inequality and by empowering women, we could raise the productive potential of one billion Africans, delivering a huge boost to the continent’s development potential. We want these extraordinary women to inspire us all,” says Marie Nguettia, Equality, and Justice & Human Rights Program Associate at OSIWA.



Open Society Initiative for West Africa is part of the global Open Society Foundations Network. OSIWA is one of the four foundations based in Africa. It promotes the establishment of open societies in West Africa, characterized by inclusive and democratic governance institutions that are responsible and accountable to the citizens, and respect for human rights. OSIWA seeks to inter alia enhance the protection of women’s rights, expand their participation in decision-making processes and address the inequities women face.

For more information please contact:

Haingo Valencia RAKOTOMALALA

Associate Advocacy Officer, OSIWA

Tel: +221 78 637 03 77

Email: [email protected]

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