Women’s Day in West Africa

As we mark International Women’s Day today with a large number of events organised across West Africa, it is a timely moment to look at progress made and remaining obstacles to achieving gender equality. In West Africa, large gender disparities persist. Women and girls are disadvantaged in many areas and don’t enjoy the same opportunities as their male counterparts. This is true for almost all public sectors, ranging from unequal access to basic social services (health, education, water & sanitation, energy, etc.), unequal property rights and persistent gender gaps in the labour market and the public sphere. The legal frameworks, policies and strategies are hard to find, but they do exist. Since the mid-2000s, almost every West African country has created a national gender policy or strategy. Regional organisations like ECOWAS, UEMOA, CILSS and the African Union have all adopted gender policies and they are increasingly mainstreaming gender issues in different policy sectors. But, in practice, gender is still considered mostly as an afterthought and gender policies are often not implemented effectively. The SWAC Secretariat has compiled national gender policies and strategy papers to facilitate access and dissemination of the existing policies and institutional frameworks. You will also find in this issue, an opinion piece by SWAC Secretariat Director Laurent Bossard that was published in Le Monde Afrique, and draws attention to the difficult situation of many girls and women in the Sahel. Another blog article, published on the OECD Insights blog, calls for men to be more involved so that we can make faster progress in achieving gender equality goals on the ground. Lastly, we invite you to discover some of the measures taken by Thomas Sankara, the former President of Burkina Faso, to improve the conditions of women more than 30 years ago. Since 1984, 8th of March has been a public holiday in Burkina Faso.