Thursday, December 17, 2009

"Best" Burkina Proverbs

BBC Correspondent Peter "Pierre" Kazoni interviews Scholastique Kompaoré; photo by Brenda Gael McSweeney

Peter "Pierre" Kazoni, BBC Correspondent resident in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, launched a series for the BBC in November 2009 on "Best Proverbs."

Listen below (under the French version) to his conversation with Scholastique Kompaoré, President of the Marche Mondiale des Femmes - Burkina, on her "best" proverb in Mooré, the language of the majority ethnic group in Burkina, the Mossi people.

Filmed by Brenda Gael McSweeney, edited by Kassia Karr. 

Peter "Pierre" Kazoni interviewing Ami Kiello

He then elicited a "best" proverb in Fulfulde, the language of the Fulani people of West Africa. Here, he speaks with Aminata "Ami" Kiello, a social scientist with a vast international background. Notice that Ami is holding a copy of "Women of Vision: Brighton Allston Women's Heritage Trail Guide," available on UNESCO's website.

Brenda McSweeney being interviewed by Peter "Pierre" Kazoni; photo by Ami Kiello. 

Finally, he taped the "best" proverb of Brenda Gael McSweeney, who lived in an Ouagadougou courtyard and worked with the United Nations for many years in Burkina. Her favorite Burkina proverb is "two hands scoop up more flour;" or in French "deux mains puis ramasser le plus de farine."

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Burkinabe women creatively advocating for social causes

Women, health, and HIV/AIDS

Invest in women and girls for sustainable human development

1975: International Women's Year 

Sunday, December 13, 2009

What people are saying about the Equality Burkina Blog!

I love this blog -- I agree with Larry that the pictures along with the layout make this a more compelling place to go than your "typical" blog.  Congratulations! - Lisa 
Lisa Lynch 
Dean and Professor of Economics, Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University
Ph.D., London School of Economics and Political Science
Photo Credit: Brandeis University

I love it!  The blog is wonderfully interspersed with photos -- something often missing.  Great work and congratulations. - Larry
Laurence Simon
Professor and Director, Sustainable International Development Programs and Associate Dean, Academic Planning, The Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University
Photo Credit: Brandeis University

Merci pour l'adresse de votre 'blog'.  Je viens de le voir, et c'est évidemment une source de connaissance très riche.  J'ai des étudiantes et étudiants qui s'en intéresseront. - Richard
Richard Maclure
Professor and former Acting Dean in the Faculty of Education at the University of Ottawa
Photo Credit: University of Ottawa

I only now have had the chance to look over your blog in depth and just wanted to say, Great Job! This looks like an exciting project!

My only suggestion would be to put the option to have the site in
French at the top.  Francophone readers might not go that far down to find the link if they think the site is all in English.

Keep up the good work!

Timothy Longman
Director, African Studies Center, Boston University 
Photo Credit: Boston University 

Sunday, December 6, 2009

New Blog Activity!

The Quest for Gender Equality in Burkina Faso: Female Workloads, Education and Empowerment by Scholastique Kompaoré and Brenda Gael McSweeney with Jennifer Hilda Frisanco.  
New Burkina Partner in Who's Who:   
IT and Communications Specialist.

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Excerpts from Burkina's Women Shape Progress by Brenda Gael McSweeney and Scholastique Kompaoré

Women in Burkina Faso are leading a campaign to address challenges that affect the daily lives of ordinary citizens in remote villages scattered throughout one of Africa's least advantaged nations. Through work by the Burkina Faso Government, and with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Burkina's women are finding daily life to be much less daunting.

UNDP and other partners in 2007 were able to develop and successfully implement a Multi Functional Platform in Burkina Faso that addresses UNESCO's organizational priorities: Gender Equality and Africa. Burkina's women for generations have had to contend with unequal division of labor, services, benefits, and expectations out of life. The United Nations Millennium Development Goal Three ('promote gender equality and empower women') is directly reflected by the Platform's objectives: to ease village life for women in rural areas of Burkina Faso while at the same time helping empower them and promoting democratic governance. 

The UN and Burkina's subsequent work has installed for the first time diesel engine machines, imported from India, to be used for agricultural processes once performed for hours by village women, taking up much of their time which now can be used for lucrative and educational activities. Today 120 machines are running throughout the nation. In village after village, Women's Management Committees are charged with the maintenance, running, and monitoring of usage of the machines. Brenda Gael McSweeney and Scholastique Kompaoré note: "Most women’s committees volunteer their time to manage the Platform. However, in one case the women were paying themselves too much to balance the books. Heated negotiations ended that, and led to broadened participation and involvement of more neighborhoods – 'democracy' and 'transparency' in action at the local level."

The women of these communities are enthusiastic about the windows of opportunity these machines have created.

The Government of Burkina Faso and several others in West Africa intend to scale up the Platform approach in partnership with their main donor the United Nations Development Programme. Presently a regional project is carrying the idea across Africa, for which UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Africa mobilized 19 million dollars from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
From an international perspective, the Platform is an exciting revolution quietly stepping forth out of the shadows and bringing Burkina Faso's people in from the horizon; could these Burkinabe women and the generations which will come to follow be a model for rural women throughout the world? How exciting it would be to say that the seeds of gender equality must be planted with rural women whose aims are simply to provide a better life for their communities, families, and themselves. This success story must not go unnoticed as the international community strives for the realization of the Millennium Development Goals.

Brenda Gael McSweeney began a decades-long international development career in Ouagadougou. She is Visiting Faculty at Boston University’s Women’s Studies Program, and at Brandeis University is Resident Scholar of the Women’s Studies Research Center and teaches at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management. Scholastique Kompaoré was National Coordinator of the Burkina Faso (then Upper Volta) pilot project for Equal Access of Women and Girls to Education.  She is the President of the Burkina arm of the World March of Women.

by Brenda Gael McSweeney and Scholastique Kompaoré, with Raffi Freedman-Gurspan - drawn from "Burkina's Women Shape Progress," published by UNESCO, Paris. See full article, also in French, at the UNESCO Portal.

Top photo by Stanley Freedman-Gurspan, the others by Brenda Gael McSweeney

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The Quest for Gender Equality in Burkina Faso

Abstract: The Quest for Gender Equality 
in Burkina Faso: 
Female Workloads, Education and Empowerment
by Scholastique Kompaoré and Brenda Gael McSweeney 
with Jennifer Hilda Frisanco
Only 8.1 % percent of women over 15 years in Burkina Faso (formerly Upper Volta) were literate in 2005, compared to 18.5% of men. The question of why this inequality remained alongside others, twenty-five years after the enthusiasm and energy inspired by Upper Volta's multi-faceted UNESCO/UNDP Project for Equal Access of Women and Girls to Education, was one that Scholastique Kompaoré and Brenda Gael McSweeney felt challenged by.   

Mrs. Kompaoré, a sociologist, was the National Coordinator of this initiative from 1972 to 1978 and prior to that participated in carrying out feasibility studies for the Project. Dr. McSweeney, a development economist, was in charge of the Project in the Programme portfolio at the United Nations Development Programme's Ouagadougou Office.  

The authors' documentary research, drawing especially on their field data collected since the 1970s, did not reveal significant evolution in the percentage of literate women. On the bright side, they noted significant progress in women's empowerment in terms of economic autonomy and community voice, and also solid improvements in girls' education at the primary level which augur well for the future. 

The authors went back to the Project zones in 2005 to examine the legacy of the Project and various aspects of women's lives in villages that participated in the Project. They looked particularly into the impact of workload-lightening technologies; literacy, income-generating activities and political voice of women; and access to education for girls. This paper outlines their conclusions and identifies topics for further investigation in the quest for gender equality and female empowerment in Burkina Faso. 


The Future:  Towards Gender Equality and Development
As the authors see it, the options in terms of education for women and girls remain the same, and comply with the following principle: to increase the possibilities of education and facilitate equal access, and to increase women's participation in development and in its benefits. There are numerous interventions: seemingly every project, every Ministry has a women’s aspect, and there are numerous Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) dedicated to women’s issues. It would be important that these interventions, widespread and primarily in the large cities and their surroundings, where they carve out their somewhat exclusive territories, be well coordinated with combined efforts instead of operating in a somewhat dispersed way.  

A Ministry or organization from which one can obtain full and complete data concerning the spectrum of interventions and their results would be a positive contribution. The future challenges appear to be to establish an overall information dissemination system and to capitalize on the experiences of each sector of intervention, to establish an overview of what is successfully being done in favor of women’s empowerment and gender equality, so as to conduct a systematic analysis and provide directions for moving dramatically forward.  

The long path traveled thus far has brought strong positive results in terms of narrowing the ‘gender gap’ in primary school enrollments and completion the primary cycle of schooling, and in terms on women’s growing economic autonomy and voice in the villages and beyond. The continued priority and investment of Burkina’s Government and civil society as well as their development partners directed towards abating women’s workloads and promoting girls’ education lead one to conclude in an optimistic mode.  As a Burkina proverb states, “Two hands scoop up more flour.” 

Full research paper at UNESCO’s Website; once at site given below,  please see entry dated 23.03.07 under 'Documents' and click for PDF download

Grassroots Women Gaining a Voice/Les femmes font entendre leur voix au niveau local

"My dream is to be President of the World!" wrote an eleven year old girl, Zaliatou Zibaré from Boala in Burkina Faso. International Women's Day is an important occasion to highlight women at the grassroots gaining a voice. 

Boala is one of the remote villages reached by the Project for Equal Access of Women to Education, launched in the 1970s by UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Burkina had very low literacy rates, especially among rural women.

Local sociologists insisted that to reach women, the project had first to reduce the time and energy women spent hauling water, fetching wood and pounding millet, usually with their little daughters in tow. Time-budget studies revealed that women had only about an hour of free time a day.

Young girls aged seven to fifteen worked an average of eight hours daily, twice as much as their boy cohorts. Desperate for their help, women hesitated to send their daughters to school.

The UNESCO teams introduced workload-lightening technologies such as water pumps that eliminated the need for women and girls to plod miles for water, millet grinding mills that replaced tedious hand grinding, and donkey carts that substituted for hauling heavy loads on their heads. Functional literacy activities conveyed health advice and tips on hygiene, such as how to filter swamp water, that dramatically lowered infant mortality.

Practical training boosted women's confidence, knowledge and group solidarity. As a result, remarkable transformations occurred in small village courtyards.

Decades ago, during all-village caucuses, women were almost invisible. At best, one or two would peek out from behind the baobab trees. Now, women are at the forefront of forging change.

Two months ago in Boala, women jumped into an open-air all-village debate. In front of chiefs, men and boys, they raised issues that used to be taboo such as the HIV/AIDS threat to the community, and vocally condemned female genital mutilation. They gained a voice in deciding community priorities, such as rebuilding their local midwives' birth clinic. Women still toil long hours, but now for their own cash account.

Today the Government of Burkina invests over 22% of the national budget into education, well above the all-Africa average. While female literacy remains low at around 9 %, girls' enrollments in primary school nearly match those of boys. Villagers in Boala are proud to broadcast that girls attend school alongside boys, and that in all but one grade girls are at the top of their classes.

According to Mme Scholastique Kompaoré who led the Women's Education Project, "Contemporary women can allow their erstwhile child-helpers to go to school. Education in turn empowers girls to take an active part in household and community decision-making, and prepares them to be leaders."

At the grassroots of the African continent, young Zaliatou and her outspoken mother and aunts personify the outcome of a quiet revolution.

These empowered women make their own decisions.

And the girls dare to dream.

Zaliatou has sketched herself in stiletto heels, ready to preside over the world.

Source: Dr. Brenda Gael McSweeney, who lived in a courtyard in Burkina's capital,
Ouagadougou, while working for the United Nations Development Programme for seven years in the seventies. She is now a Visiting Scholar at the Women's Studies Research Center, Brandeis University. Co-author: Ms. Jennifer Hilda Frisanco, who is a dual national from France and Switzerland. She is currently focusing on "International and Global Studies" at Brandeis University.

Cliquez en bas pour la version française (Mars 2006):

Réflexions sur une première expérience de jeune médecin par le docteur Hubert Bourreau

Réflexions sur une première expérience de jeune médecin, coopérant du Service National Français en république de Haute Volta, au poste médical de Pô à la frontière du Ghana de Janvier 1965 à Septembre 1965:

J’ai fait partie de la première promotion de trois volontaires pour les postes médicaux de brousse en Haute Volta (Orodara, Diapaga, Pô) en 1965, cinq ans après la proclamation de l’indépendance du pays.  A cette époque, le service de santé voltaïque comportait une quarantaine de médecins militaires français, formés à Bordeaux ou Lyon, ou Marseille, et qui avaient occupé différents postes dans les anciennes colonies françaises en Afrique Noire. Les Médecins « autochtones » étaient une douzaine, occupant des postes ministériels politiques. J’ai rencontré le Dr. Sawadogo, Médecin et le Dr. Fathié Traoré Chirurgien, qui eux exerçaient effectivement la médecine à l’hôpital Yalagdo de Ouagadougou.

Le poste Médical de Pô était abandonné par les médecins militaires depuis environ deux ans. Il était donc dirigé par un Infirmier d’Etat, Mr. Martin Traoré qui venait d’être affecté à Pô. Les infirmiers d’état, formés à Dakar ou à Abidjan, exerçaient en réalité les fonctions de médecin de brousse. L’infirmier d’état dirigeait une équipe de deux infirmiers A.M.A. (Assistant Médical Africain) de niveau aide soignant, formé à Ouagadougou à l’école des infirmiers A.M.A. fondée par le docteur Gouarnisson, père blanc et médecin renommé dans le domaine des grandes endémies, de l’ophtalmologie et de la pédiatrie. Son successeur, également père blanc, s’appelait effectivement le Dr. Blanc, continuait son œuvre et dirigeait l’école privée les Lauriers où était formées sur place les premières promotion d’infirmières diplômées d’état et d’assistantes sociales depuis 1962. Cette école était financée par la CEE (Communauté économique européenne). L’équipe de Pô comportait également deux manoeuvres qui en réalité faisaient les pansements, distribuaient les médicaments, et à l’occasion faisaient des injections; autant dire qu’ils ne faisaient pas le ménage.

L’hôpital de Pô était en fait un vieux dispensaire du temps colonial, situé près de la mission catholique, adapté pour des consultations externes: les consultations, les injections de quinine ou de bipéni, les pansements, se faisaient dans la grande salle commune, dans une totale promiscuité, bruyante et décontractée. La salle d’hospitalisation était vide à mon arrivée. A cette époque, en 1965, il n’y avait pas de pharmacie  en ville à Pô; les fonctionnaires se débrouillaient pour acheminer leurs ordonnances par les voyageurs nombreux sur cette piste reliant Ouaga au Ghana. A Ouaga, il y avait deux pharmacies privées tenues par des pharmaciens français et la pharmacie nationale.

J’ai aménagé un petit réduit réservé au stockage de matériel, en bureau de consultation avec une table d’examen, une chaise et une petite table pour écrire et la présence permanente d’un interprète, habituellement mon chauffeur, de l’ethnie Kasséna et connaissant donc bien la langue, les us et coutumes de la région. Les gardes au dispensaire étaient assurées par un infirmier A.M.A.; curieusement, il n’y avait pas de consultants pendant les gardes; l’habitude était de revenir le lendemain matin à la consultation générale.

A côté de l’hôpital se trouvait la trypano (diminutif de trypanosomiase) vieux dispensaire trypano tenu par un infirmier censé dépistéper chez les voyageurs qui passaient la frontière du Ghana, la maladie du sommeil, la fièvre jaune, la variole, la lèpre et la tuberculose. Il se contentait de tamponner les laisser-passer.

Une maternité était construite près des bâtiments administratifs du commandant de cercle dans les années 50; c’était assez fonctionnel, avec une grande salle commune pour les accouchées, une salle de travail, une grande salle pour les examens des femmes enceintes et un bureau de consultation jouxtant le hall d’entrée, qui servait de salle d’attente. La maternité était dirigée par une infirmière A.M.A. (les infirmières D. E. et les Sages femmes d’Etat formées à Dakar et à Abidjan, étaient affectées dans les grandes villes). Cette Infirmière était aidée de deux infirmières A.M.A. et de deux matrones. Il y avait environ 100 accouchements par mois, approximativement. Les infirmières A.M.A, une fois par mois, faisaient la pesée des nourrissons (embryon de PMI, la Protection Maternelle et Infantile) à Adongo, Songo et Guiaro, avec le véhicule d’évacuation sanitaire ou avec la land rover du médecin.

Quand l’accouchement était impossible, la parturiente était évacuée sur la maternité de Ouaga pour une éventuelle césarienne, en 403 bâchée. Chaque après midi, de 15h à 17h, je faisais des consultations, pour suivre certaines femmes enceintes, des nourrissons malades, pour recevoir des patients fonctionnaires et faire de la médecine administrative (certificats médicaux, arrêt de travail et tenue des statistiques d’activités pour rendre compte chaque mois au ministère de la santé).

Ma fonction de médecin-chef comportait également la visite mensuelle de deux dispensaires de brousse. Le déplacement se faisait avec une land rover neuve de l’UNICEF, conduite par un chauffeur Kasséna. Elle permettait outre l’inspection d’apporter la dotation mensuelle de médicaments; il est intéressant de noter la liste des médicaments: quinimax (contre le paludisme) en injection, nivaquine comprimés, aspirine comprimés, ganidan contre les diarrhées, bipéni (pénicilline injectable) antibiotique contre toutes les infections; et le matériel de pansement (teinture d’iode, et alcool à pansement); quelques bandes de coton hydrophile importé de France (la Haute Volta est productrice de coton). J’apportais également les bons d’essence pour les déplacements des infirmiers et les bons de pétrole pour la stérilisation des seringues et des aiguilles dans les poissonnières symboles emblématiques des premières notions d’asepsie.

Le poste médical de Tiébélé était aussi ancien et démuni que le poste de Pô, avec en plus l’enclavement, dans une région coupée du monde pendant la saison des pluies; les pistes étaient impraticables et souvent coupées par des raviers qui débordaient. Je terminais mes tournées à Ziou où une matrone formée par les accoucheuses du village, officiait dans une case ronde traditionnelle. Son logement de fonction était également une case ronde traditionnelle à côté de la case maternité. Son matériel comportait essentiellement une boîte métallique contenant une paire de ciseaux, et deux pinces pour le cordon ombilical. La dotation comportait quelques comprimés de nivaquine, d’aspirine et du matériel de pansement pour la cicatrice ombilicale.

UNESCO's Gender History by Valerie Moghadam

Valerie Moghadam served from 2004-2006 as Chief of the Section on Gender Equality and Development in the Social and Human Sciences Sector of UNESCO, in Paris, France. Val is now Professor of Sociology and Director of Women's Studies at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA. Photo Credit:

Excerpt from UNESCO's Gender History concerning the 1960s: "One important initiative was the Pilot Project for Equal Access of Women and Girls to Education, launched by UNESCO with the Government of Upper Volta (the country later was renamed Burkina Faso). Dr. Brenda Gael McSweeney wrote her Ph.D. thesis on this particular project.  She explains that the initiative was unique in its multi-faceted, multi-site orientation, and in its duration. In-depth sociological studies were undertaken in three zones of the country, inhabited by ethnic groups with vastly different cultural traditions.   As a result of these studies, the Project decided to give first priority to the introduction of workload-lightening technologies, with the aim of reducing some of women's and girls' daily drudgery to free time and personal energy for education and other activities. The Project was planned from the outset for a ten-year time period to allow for behavioral change and the sharing of lessons within Burkina Faso and also with neighboring countries.  Dr. McSweeney elaborates:
            'Led by the charismatic National Coordinator Scholastique Kompaoré in the 1970s, the Project achieved notable successes.  It engaged women in articulating their viewpoints; it led to women adopting the practical health advice conveyed to them by Project radio and functional literacy programmes in national languages; and it unleashed time for a myriad of income-generating activities.  The Government and UNESCO's development partners took note of these achievements, which led to expansion and replication of the project by the UN Development Programme, the World Bank, the US Agency for International Development, other donors and Non-Governmental Organizations.
            A 2005 assessment of the legacy of this innovative effort indicates that the progressive polices introduced over three decades ago by the Government in partnership with UNESCO have been followed and built upon by successive national political leaders and development organizations.  The Government of Burkina now allocates 22% of its national budget to education, a higher percentage than most African countries.  While female literacy (age 15 and over) is low at about 9%, eight girls now complete primary school for every ten boys.  The assessment suggests that while labor-saving devices have reduced the time women spend on subsistence activities, their workloads remain daunting as the women now spend their freed-up time on activities that give them discretionary income.  The Government is also maintaining a focus on women's workloads.  A current high-profile initiative is the introduction of the 'Multi-Function Platform' that will provide energy to villages for grinding millet, processing shea butter and drying vegetables, and also will provide light for children to study by.  It is noteworthy that behavior change generated by the Project also continues, as women in the Project zones now tend to be consulted on important family and community decisions.  
            In addition to the specific initiatives noted above, the mission of the Project continues to be endorsed.  The flagship joint programme of the UN organizations in Burkina is directed at girls' education.  Another "child" of the Project is the International Centre for Girls' and Women's Education in Africa headquartered in Ouagadougou that promotes women's and girls' full participation in poverty eradication. The UN Millennium Development Goals reflect these themes, and the Project directions still serve as a beacon for the empowerment of women and girls.' " [1]

[1] Personal communication from Dr. Brenda Gael McSweeney, Visiting Scholar, Women's Studies Research Center, Brandeis University and Visiting Faculty, Women's Studies Program, Boston University.  Dr. McSweeney served with the UN Development Programme from 1972-77, based in Ouagadougou.  See also her PhD. thesis, based on this UNESCO Project, at The statistical data are drawn from Education for All in Africa:  Paving the Way for Action (UNESCO Regional Office in Dakar , 2005).

Who's Who in Our Gender Equality - Burkina Coalition

Initiators and Editors

Brenda Gael McSweeney began her career with the United Nations decades ago, living in a traditional courtyard in Burkina Faso (then Upper Volta). She is a Resident Scholar at the Women's Studies Research Center (WSRC) and Adjunct Professor of the Practice at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University, as well as Visiting Faculty at Boston University’s Women’s Studies Program (WSP). Brenda serves on the United Nations Development Programme’s Advisory Board for the Regional Programme for Africa, and was also Faculty of UNDP’s Virtual Development Academy. After working in Burkina, Brenda continued with the UN in a range of executive positions in the Caribbean, in Europe as the head of the global UN Volunteers organization, and finally as the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in India. Brenda holds her Ph.D. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, as well as two honorary doctorates. She was the recipient of a Fulbright and several other prestigious awards including from the Governments of Burkina, Jamaica, and the Federal Republic of Germany. Her research focuses on female education and empowerment in Burkina, and gender perspectives on livelihoods in West Bengal, India. Photo courtesy of the Tapsoba Family.

Scholastique "Scho" Kompaoré from Burkina Faso is currently President
 of the Marche Mondiale des Femmes (World March of Women - Burkina branch), and  is also on the Board of Directors of CUSO/VSO - Canada (Canadian University Service Overseas/Voluntary Service Overseas). She was a pioneer in the gender equality movement in Burkina, and National Coordinator of the 'UNESCO/UNDP/Government Pilot Project for Equal Access of Women and Girls to Education'. She also ran from Zimbabwe the Africa South of the Sahara UNDP/UN Volunteers Programme for Exchange of Community Field Workers for a decade. Scholastique is called upon as an independent consultant on programs of education and rural development, and has published on issues ranging from female education to women-led enterprises.

Burkina Partners
Aimé Damiba is an education specialist. Aimé was the Director of Educational Planning in the 1970s, during the period of wide-reaching educational reform. This work included an accent on female education, as well as literacy in Burkina's main languages.  Aimé then served with the UNESCO Regional Team based in Dakar, and is still today called upon for consultancies in such arenas as capacity building.
Peter (Pierre) Kazoni is the BBC's Correspondent in Burkina, as well as Professor of High Schools and Colleges in the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research. He has been with this Ministry since 1977, and has almost the same number of years of experience with the Ministry of Information. He went to Europe for journalism training with the BBC several times, with the joint accord of both Ministries. He started making and presenting programs with the Radio and Television of Burkina in 1978, while teaching at the same time. Peter is perfectly bilingual, and is well-known across the country and beyond for his radio show, Follow Me. He has been involved with the work of equal access of women and girls to education since the 1970s, and has produced a number of broadcasts for the BBC on women breaking traditional barriers.                                            
Aminata Kiello is a social scientist who began her career in Burkina Faso in the 1970s with the United Nations Development Programme, Ouagadougou. Ami then pursued her studies in Africa and in France; her doctoral thesis focused on Alex Haley's Roots. She migrated to neighboring Niger where she worked for many years at the African Fund for Solidarity. She contributes her energy to such causes as the Lions Club, and just recently was invited to share her expertise in Brasilia, Brazil.

Benoît Ouédraogo is a rural development specialist of West Africa. He has long worked with the Government of Burkina on rural education initiatives. He is currently an independent consultant and is often called upon by organizations such as Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the Inter-State Standing Committee to Combat to Drought in the Sahel (CILSS), and the OECD's Sahel and West Africa Club, Paris. 

Mahamadi "Madhy" Ouédraogo is a specialist in multimedia communication and web development and management. He is the Head of the communications team of the UN Development Programme, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. His professional "licence" is in communication activities and techniques, and he also has specialized degrees in web design, content management, and development information. Bilingual, he is a member of a number of professional networks, and has special interest in governance, sustainable international development, and the management of indicators linked to achieving the Millennium Development Goals.


Boston Team  

Raffi Freedman-Gurspan is a Course and Research Assistant at Boston University's Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program. Additionally, Raffi is the LGBT Liaison for the City of Somerville, Massachusetts and is also the Legislative and Policy Staffer for the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition. She is a graduate of St. Olaf College Northfield, Minnesota, and holds a B.A. in Political Science and Norwegian with a Concentration in Nordic Studies. Her primary interests include public policy making, minority and indigenous peoples' rights, and gender equality matters. She hopes to continue her education in a Master's in Public Policy program.

Photo credit: Raffi Freedman-Gurspan.

Kassia Karr is a current MA student in the University Professor's Program at Boston University, with an independent concentration focused on development and South Asian studies. She has worked as a teaching and research assistant for Dr. McSweeney since 2007, assisting with her "Gender and International Development" courses at both Boston and Brandeis Universities. 
Photo credit: Alex Garens.

Welcome to the Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment in Burkina Faso Blog

Welcome to our Forum on Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment in Burkina Faso! We hope that this blog will boost our sharing of ideas and experience on successful ways of promoting gender equality and women's empowerment in Burkina and beyond.

 Map Credit: 

One main thread of the blog will tell the stories of the last several decades, when a number of us from this Burkina blog coalition were struggling to help improve the lot of women, and through them other family members, in their communities. 

Another thread will focus on Women of Vision in the country: how one defines this concept, and the various people who were proposed by a vast number of interlocutors, to be included in this distinguished category. 

The stories on this blog are a precursor to a publication being prepared for UNESCO Paris, for its "Women of Vision" series that we initiated. 

Our blog also mirrors one on Gender, Culture, and People-Centered Development, that reflects the work of a UNESCO UNITWIN ('University Twinning') Network hosted by the Women Studies Program at Boston University, with dynamic member partners from three prestigious Indian universities and several activist non-governmental organizations. Do visit that blog here.

Happy reading and viewing! 

Photos by and ©Brenda Gael McSweeney, unless otherwise credited.

Cliquez en bas pour la version française