Speech by Michelle Bachelet in Senegal at Joal Fadiouth fish processing project site

Date: Monday, January 7, 2013

Speech by Michelle Bachelet during field visit to Joal Fadiouth fish processing project site. Dakar, Senegal. 7 January 2013.

[ Check against delivery ]

I am so glad to be here today in Joal-Fadiouth. I thank the Mayor and the local authorities for making this visit possible. And I thank the Ministry of Women, Children and Women Entrepreneurship for their partnership on this project I've just had the pleasure of seeing in action.

As Executive Director of UN Women, I have traveled all over the world and met with countless women. But I am especially impressed by seeing the results of this project and the economic progress that has been made.

I also had the opportunity to hear from the women themselves about their experiences and how their lives have changed as a result of this project.

The women of Joal-Fadiouth are using new processing techniques and selling fish at fair prices. Now, the women in one of the largest fish processing sites in this country have more voice and control over their products.

The result is that they, their families and communities can benefit from a better income, increased food security and improved health and well-being.

The economic empowerment of women is one of the key priorities of the work we do at UN Women. Everywhere I go I carry this message: unleashing the full economic potential of women can boost economic growth, create jobs and opportunities and improve the lives of all citizens. Women's economic participation isn't just the right thing to do- it makes sound economic sense.

Women are innovators; they are entrepreneurs. Women hold up the household, caring for children and putting food on the table, on top of the work they do each day. Here in Senegal, in West Africa, in the world- women face barriers that keep them from participating as equals in the economy: restrictions on the right to own or inherit land; lack of access to bank loans; gender discrimination in the workforce.

This project works to change that. Women are half the population- more than half here in Joal-Fadiouth- but they still form the majority of people living in poverty. We have seen what women can do to break the cycle of poverty and improve the health, education and well-being of their communities.

The project here in Joal-Fadiouth is only one example of the vast potential of women's economic empowerment. Next year, UN Women will partner with the Ministry to expand this project to other sites. I encourage the Ministry of Women, Children and Women Entrepreneurs to continue its work supporting similar projects and spearheading new measures to support women in Senegal.

We look forward to working with you further to develop new initiatives and build on our experiences here in Joal-Fadiouth so women can contribute to the local economy, improve the lives of their families and communities, and shape the economic future of Senegal.

I congratulate the women of Joal-Fadiouth once again on their success. UN Women stands beside you, and I wish you all the best.

Thank you.