Generation Equality - Mali : Between social norms, clichés and the need for emancipation

Despite the adoption of several international conventions on the improvement of the status of women and the holding of numerous seminars and other capacity-building workshops for women leaders, Mali still has a long way to go. Beijing +25 is a wake-up call for all stakeholders at all levels to identify bottlenecks and work together to find lasting solutions.

MAÏGA-Oumou-Dembele

Since the Beijing meeting in 1995, we women of Mali have been committed to achieving all the objectives related to the advancement of women, from UN Resolution 1325 to the MDGs and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

I am working hard to convince my peers to become ambassadors for the achievement of these goals, sparing neither time nor resources of any kind.

Our commitment to the promotion and protection of women's and girls' rights has enabled us to organise many forums (training, information and awareness-raising) to enable women and girls to take an interest in both associative and political life. Over the years, we have organised several workshops to build the capacities of women and potential candidates so that they can better approach the elections in terms of the local authority code, the electoral process, preparation for candidacy, techniques for mobilising resources (material and financial), basic texts governing the elections, communication strategies, campaign messages and, finally, the development of a campaign programme. We also carried out a series of advocacy and lobbying, training, information and awareness-raising activities in this regard

The adoption and promulgation of Law No. 2015 - 052 of 18 December 2015 instituting measures to promote gender in access to nominative and elective functions by the authorities of the Republic and its implementing decree did not solve everything. The fight continues to ensure that it is strictly applied by the country's administrative and political authorities.

As a woman politician and spokesperson for women in political parties, we have contributed to the political emergence of women and girls as voters and eligible candidates. We have also strongly influenced policies/programmes in Mali on the emancipation of women. I have personally carried out several coaching/monitoring actions for rural and urban women in order to keep the torch burning and pass the baton to the young with ease.

The synergy of women's actions initiated in Beijing for the promotion of gender and which continues through a call for support from the authorities of the various states for the various Beijing recommendations must necessarily be based on a watch on the women's agenda against discrimination and political will.

What about stereotypes and other forms of discrimination which are still practiced in our societies? Girls and women continue to suffer the weight of prejudices and practices that violate their rights and harm their dignity and integrity: physical, sexual and psychological violence, forced and early marriages, excision, etc. They clearly limit the possibilities of women to participate in society. They clearly limit women's opportunities for employment and development. They constitute serious obstacles to the promotion of women's rights. For example, in our families, the education of a young boy is different from that of a young girl. The boy will always have advantages over the girl. And what about the social cliché that women are always seen as "submissive"? The girl's education is about submission, and the boy's is about supremacy. The professions must be open to both sexes. Patriarchy as a way of life in some societies is a real bottleneck for the promotion of women's rights. This discrimination has spilled over into nominative and elective positions and even into income-generating jobs.

Youth must play a catalytic role in the fight for equal opportunities

Youth must have a prominent place in the debate on gender equality. It must be the insurance for all emerging countries, especially when it takes on the duty of awareness in the face of governance contingencies. Its role is to ensure generational and gender arbitration with a view to achieving a balance that brings hope. It is very difficult to achieve equality in every respect between men and women. Our culture does not allow it because our habits and customs have had a negative impact on the possible emancipation of women. Even in the household the woman is supposed to be a "servant", it is the man who has all the rights and the woman only has duties.

A real change of approach in the system of family education and by applying positive customary practices can change certain practices that have become social beliefs over the years. In the past, when the mother did not have a daughter, it was the boy who did all the housework. Now this practice is tending to disappear. The stereotypes conveyed in the media and in advertisements showing girls doing housework and never in an office must be reviewed and avoided. We must also encourage young girls to stay in school, which is a permanent battle. Finally, we need to be aware of the need to respect the application of all the texts and laws that our authorities have adopted without reservation.

Thanks to the involvement of States, civil society, young people and the private sector, following the example of the commitment of these actors at the Generation Equality Forum in Paris, I remain convinced that women's rights will gradually be respected and that violence against women will decrease. There will be many women in decision-making bodies, the rate of representation of women will be high and the status of women will change. In a word, women will have acquired all their rights and will be a real actor in development.

Mrs MAÏGA Oumou Dembélé

Spokesperson of the Cadre de Concertation des Femmes des Partis Politiques du Mali Vice-President of the National Strategic Committee on Gender and Elections of ECOWAS in Mali President of the Coalition for the Promotion and Preservation of Women's Rights in Mali

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