Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Women of Vision - Burkina Faso

This is a preview of a publication in progress for
UNESCO's University Twinning (UNITWIN)
Website. The UNITWIN concerns Gender, Culture,
and People-Centered Development. We hope you will
enjoy this glimpse of the contributions of some of the
amazing 'Women of Vision' in Burkina Faso!
Brenda Gael McSweeney & Scholastique Kompaoré

We thank Brandeis University's Women's Studies Research Center (WSRC) and Boston University's Women's, Gender, & Sexuality Studies Program (WGS) for support of the research and activities of this Women of Vision in Burkina Faso initiative.

I. Breaking Barriers: Women in Non-Traditional Roles

Princess Yennenga (around the 12th century) was the female warrior considered to be the mother of the Mossi Kingdom. According to legend, as a young teenager in northern Ghana she valiantly fought in battle for her father, leading other courageous female warriors. She later fled this patriarchal society on her stallion. With a hunter named Rialé, she had a son who founded the Mossi Kingdom in the heart of the territory now comprising Burkina Faso.

Princess Guimbi Ouattara (1836-1919) was a key heroine in the history of the city of Bobo-Dioulasso in the western part of present-day Burkina. She defended the city against invaders from the south, and also gave shelter to early explorers. A mausoleum has been erected in her honor.

Naaba Saaga, born 11 May 1947, is the last Interim Mogho Naaba (Emperor) of the Mossi Kingdom. Installed at age eleven, she was hidden away in a neighboring vicinity for her personal safety, and continues to this day to retain many traditional powers. She created a solidarity group for women in her village. See a video clip of our conversation with the Naaba Saaga, in November 2009, here.

Léontine Kaboré was enthroned as the first-ever female village chief in Burkina Faso in the year 2007. Designated by Chief Modeste Yaméogo, she was given the title Napoaka Ziiri of Issouka village. This title means "honor, power, and glory." She had to overcome many obstacles to exercise her new mandate.
Original story for the BBC by Burkina correspondent Peter Kazoni.

Estelle Christianne Ouèdraogo holds the unique job of female mechanic of motorcycles and mobylettes. She began this work in the capital of Burkina Faso, Ouagadogou, then moved westward to the smaller city of Koudougou. Already she has inspired other women to take up this trade. She dreams to one day run her own repair and spare parts shop.
Original story for the BBC by Burkina correspondent Peter Kazoni.

II. Boosting Knowledge: Female Education

Jacqueline Ki-Zerbo was the first African woman Director of the Teacher's Training School for Girls in Burkina Faso (then called Upper Volta). Among her numerous achievements, she successfully militated for legislation that would permit girls who left school owing to pregnancy, to subsequently return to continue their studies. Jacqueline was also the first National Coordinator of the UNESCO/UN Development Programme/Government Pilot Project for Equal Access of Women and Girls to Education. She later worked with UNESCO on regional population issues, and with UNIFEM in West and Central Africa. She has been honored with prestigious awards.
Photo credit: ©Stan Freedman-Gurspan. 

Scholastique Kompaoré has spent her life fighting for education and the advancement of the women with whom she has long shared harsh living and working conditions. Appointed to the position of National Coordinator of the UNESCO/UN Development Program/Government Pilot Project for Equal Access of Women to Girls to Education in 1974, Scholastique helped bring about successful implementation of this largely participatory project in Upper Volta. Scholastique also served as Director of a United Nations Volunteers (UNV) program that facilitated the exchange of fieldworkers between village communities and helped introduce new crops and alternative nutritional habits in participating African villages. More recently, Scholastique served as President of the Burkina Division of the March of the World’s Women from 2005-2009. She is seen as an inspiring example by many of the women interviewed for this Women of Vision Project. 

Mariam Konaté is a social activist and one of the first people to write the Jula (Dioula) language and to prepare a functional literacy materials in Jula. She played a crucial role in the Women's Education Project team, stationed in Banfora in western Burkina. Even today, she meets with alumnae of the Women's Project team in Bobo-Dioulasso, where they have formed a women's solidarity group. See a skit by Mariam here.

Bernadette Dao Sanou is a poet and community activist. Based in the Ministry of Basic Education as Director of Educational Innovation, she has written school texts in Jula (Dioula) and French for elementary-level students. Bernadette is a feminist poet: her works include "Sensibilisation sur les stereotypes et prejuges a l'egard des femmes et des petites filles" (2005), prepared for the Marche Mondiale des Femmes - Burkina, and "Quote-part - Poèmes" (June 1992). She also founded the Club Guimbi, a women's collective savings group in her neighborhood. Listen to Bernadette reading a dedication in French here.

Aminata Ouédraogo Bancé is the Coordinator of the International Centre for Girls’ and Women’s Education in Africa (CIEFFA), which has consultative status with UNESCO. The overall objective of her Centre is to promote the education of women and girls with a view to their full participation in eliminating poverty and promoting lasting development. She considers her organization to be a 'child' of the work of Scholastique Kompaoré under the auspices of the UNESCO/UNDP/Government Project for Equal Access of Women and Girls to Education.

III. Setting New Directions: Culture, Science and Social Activism

Maimouna Dembelé was a dynamic traditional minstrel in the western regions of Burkina Faso. Strongly independent and a committed feminist, many of her lyrics paid tribute to the work of the UNESCO Women's Education Project and the importance of functional literacy for women. Here she is pictured with her children, wearing a Voltaic Women's Federation outfit.
Photo courtesy of Mariam Konaté.

Suzanne "Suzi" Ouedraogo is a Ouagadougou-based painter born in 1975, who had to surmount incredible obstacles to practice her profession. She has participated in individual and group exhibitions in Burkina and several European countries, and in 2000 won the Biennale de Dak'art Prize. Several of Suzi's paintings portray the horrors of female genital mutilation and she often depicts humanity's bestiality through images of animals. She also runs an art school for children in Ouagadougou. For more photos of Suzi and her work, visit our Flickr page.

Monique Kabore (1942-2000) was a dynamic leader in the rural areas of southeastern Burkina. She led her community in 'self-help' and income-generating activities, and also promoted women's literacy and empowerment. In recognition of her accomplishments, she was recruited as a Monitrice of the Project for Equal Access of Women and Girls in Education. Read more about Monique here.  Photo courtesy of her children.

Odile Germain Nacoulma is a renowned scientist, who additionally was the first female Chancellor of the University of Ouagadougou. A professor of biochemistry, she wrote her doctoral thesis on medicinal plants and traditional medical practices in Burkina, and contributed to national policy in this arena.She was a founding Member of an Association of women heads of enterprise.
Photo: University of Ouagadougou.

Josephine Guissou Ouédraogo is a sociologist who worked for a decade with the Government and then in a private development consultancy firm in Burkina. This field work included an emphasis on women's distinct roles, for example, in the Volta Valleys. She later went on to become the highest-ranking Burkinabé female in the international system: Deputy Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa headquartered in Addis Ababa, and earlier was Director of ECA's African Centre for Women. She is currently pursuing work aimed at sustainable human development as Executive Secretary of 'ENDA Tiers Monde,' Dakar. 
Photo: ENDA.

All photos by and ©Brenda Gael McSweeney unless otherwise credited.

Cliquez en bas pour la version francaise:  

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The SEGA Girls of Tanzania: Unbound Visual Arts of UNESCO/UNITWIN at the intersection of art and education

Connecting women in Tanzania and Massachusetts around the theme of female education and empowerment, the photo exhibit “Educating the SEGA Girls of Tanzania” brought a global feel to Women’s History Month in Brighton. In the exhibit, photographer Warren Zelman depicts the students of the SEGA Girls School, a secondary boarding school for vulnerable girls in Tanzania. The striking photographs will be on display at Athan’s Café Art Gallery from March 6 - July 6, 2014.

(l to r) State Representative Kevin Honan, Nusura Gundi of SEGA (Secondary Education for Girls' Advancement),
and UVA Executive Director John Quatrale
To celebrate the opening of this powerful exhibit, Nurturing Minds, Inc. (a cosponsor of the exhibit) brought in Nusura Gundi to share the story of the SEGA Girls School. As the first exchange student from the school, Nusura came from Philadelphia to Boston to speak about her experience. The installation and opening reception were cosponsored by Nurturing Minds and Unbound Visual Arts, Inc. (UVA), a UNESCO/UNITWIN affiliate.

For more information about the exhibit and the SEGA Girls School, as well as pictures from the opening reception and photographs in the series, please see Unbound Visual Arts’ website.

Nusura Gundi at the mic at left - the first exchange student from the SEGA School