Coverage: UN Women Executive Director in Senegal

Date: Wednesday, July 25, 2018

UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka started her first official visit to Senegal on 23 July. In her meetings with the President of the Republic of Senegal, Macky Sall, and key government representatives, civil society partners and international development actors, the Executive Director stressed upon accelerating women’s access to resources, skills and the formal employment sector, as well as their right to equal participation in decision-making.
UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and President of the Republic of Senegal, Macky Sall Photo: UN Women/Alpha Ba
UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and President of the Republic of Senegal, Macky Sall. Photo: UN Women/Alpha Ba

"The SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) [are] building blocks to ensure that women’s economic initiatives succeed, accelerate and scale-up,” she said during her meeting with the President, adding, “gender inequality is a global problem and we need to hold both men and women accountable to end laws that discriminate against women."

The Executive Director also engaged with young Senegalese women entrepreneurs who are innovating solutions that work for women in various sectors, including agriculture, finance and technology.

UN Women Executive Director with young women entrepreneurs in Senegal Photo: UN Women/Alpha Ba
UN Women Executive Director with young women entrepreneurs in Senegal. Photo: UN Women/Alpha Ba

Awa Caba is a young Senegalese entrepreneur and computer science engineer. Her startup, Sooretul, which means ‘it’s not so far’, connects women farmers with consumers who live in urban areas.

“As a woman in the field of agriculture and ICT (information communication technology), I have to work extra hard in my business. It is a small business but has engaged over 250 women through associations and women’s cooperatives to sell their products,” shared Caba. While the business has not started generating profits, Caba noted the positive impact that it’s having on the women farmers who are learning new skills, such as how to package and brand their products and how to use social networks to market them.

UN Women Goodwill Ambassador for Africa, Jaha Dukureh, who accompanied the Executive Director on her trip said, "When a woman is economically empowered there’s no stopping her.” 

Pape Amadou Sarr, General Delegate for Women and Youth Entrepreneurship (right) receives the HeForShe pin from UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka (left).  During a meeting with the Executive Director, Mr. Sarr announced his plans to fund and support women-led businesses and young entrepreneurs. Photo: UN Women/ Alpha Ba
Pape Amadou Sarr, General Delegate for Women and Youth Entrepreneurship (right) receives the HeForShe pin from UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka (left). During a meeting with the Executive Director, Mr. Sarr announced his plans to fund and support women-led businesses and young entrepreneurs. Photo: UN Women/ Alpha Ba

In her meeting with UN Women staff in Senegal and UN Women Youth Professional Group, Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka encouraged staff members to create opportunities for young people and to keep them at the center of development efforts. “We adopted the SDGs, which are an ambitious set of goals determined to change the world for the better. Everyone must take action to create lasting, dramatic change for the next generation. Investment in women has a high rate of return for humanity,” she said.

From left to right: Diana Ofwona, UN Women Representative in the regional office for West and Central Africa, Oulimata Sarr, UN Women Deputy Regional Director, West and Central Africa, and UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka met with UN Women staff in Senegal to discuss organizational priorities and strategies to achieve gender equality targets of the Sustainable Development Goals in the country. Photo: UN Women/ Alpha Ba
From left to right: Oulimata Sarr, UN Women Deputy Regional Director, West and Central Africa, Diana Ofwona, UN Women Representative in the regional office for West and Central Africa, and UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka met with UN Women staff in Senegal to discuss organizational priorities and strategies to achieve gender equality targets of the Sustainable Development Goals in the country. Photo: UN Women/ Alpha Ba

Later that day, the Executive Director also met with the United Nations acting Resident Coordinator, Laylee Moshiri, and heads of other UN agencies in Senegal, and stressed on the need to address the underlying social norms, attitudes and practices that undermine laws and policies already in place to advance gender equality.

UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, acting UN Resident Coordinator, Laylee Moshiri and the UN Country Team discussed joint programmes in Senegal. Photo: UN Women/ Mariam Kouyate
UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, acting UN Resident Coordinator, Laylee Moshiri and the UN Country Team discussed joint programmes in Senegal. Photo: UN Women/ Mariam Kouyate

On 24 July, the Executive Director, accompanied by Papa Abdoulaye Seck, Senegal’s Minister of Agriculture, and Salimata Diop Dieng, Minister of Women, Family and Gender, visited Réseau des Femmes Agricultrices du Nord (REFAN), a network of women farmers who produce and trade rice, supported by UN Women’s flagship programme on women’s economic empowerment through climate resilient agriculture (AgriFeD).

Agriculture is the primary driver of economic growth in Senegal, and according to the Directorate of Analysis, Forecasting and Agricultural Statistics, women farmers make up to 70 per cent of the workforce and grows more than 80 per cent of food. Yet, they lack access to land, skills, financial resources and markets. Senegal is also one of the biggest consumers and importers of rice in West Africa. The Government has recently invested in efforts to boost food security and rice production.

"Our goal is to fight poverty through the empowerment of women in the agricultural sector and to make our advocacy for the advancement of women in rural areas heard,” said Korka Diaw, President of the network of women farmers.

Sokhna Mbodj, a member of REFAN thanked UN Women for the financial and strategic support and said, “We have benefited a lot from the capacity building training. As women of REFAN, we are determined to fight hunger in Senegal and in Africa.”

Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and women of the REFAN  group observe rice grainslearns about rice processing at the a factory in Richard Toll, a small city in the north of Senegal, 374 km from Dakar, in the district of Saint Louis, with 5,000 inhabitants. Photo: UN Women/Alpha Ba
Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and members of REFAN  learn about rice processing at a rice processing unit in Richard Toll, a small city in the northern part of Senegal. Photo: UN Women/Alpha Ba 

"Today I want to celebrate you and thank you for showing the UN how far we can go if we invest in women. UN Women is committed to support women’s economic empowerment in Senegal," said the Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.

The AfriFED project aims to empower at least of 30,000 women farmers in Senegal by 2021. Since the project started in 2017, over 10,000 women in the network have benefited from the creation of local selling points for rice distribution in Dakar and increased their sales.