Interview with Mrs. Maimouna Dabo-Diouf, Staff Council Chairperson
Question: Do you agree with the idea that women bear the face of poverty in Africa?
Answer: That is true not only in Africa but also in other parts of the world. In Africa, women bear the face of poverty because not too long ago they were generally barred from attending school. Given their position in the African society and no thanks to certain traditions, women have always been relegated to the background. Indeed, it is due to Africa that currently the term "feminization of poverty" is used by the international community. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that out of the 170 million persons living below the poverty line in sub-Saharan Africa, 70% are women, mostly rural. In 2007, the number of refugees increased tenfold; 80% of refugees are women and children. Now, why are women the face of poverty? The basic cause is that they have limited access to resources, arable land, trade, industry and positions of responsibility. Therefore, their daily concern revolves around survival strategies and health. Another major concern is that millions of women today have no access to lifesaving maternal healthcare. Being poorly nourished before pregnancy, inadequate, inaccessible or expensive healthcare, not to mention the lack of hygiene and care during delivery, risky motherhood in on the rise. Within the current context of feminization of poverty, the vicious circle has widened to affect more and more women, locking them into perpetual precarity. Moreover, one of the main avatars of the feminization of poverty is the vulnerability of African women to such scourges as HIV/AIDS, war and war-related rape of women. It is no longer soldiers who die at the front line. Instead, it is women who are raped, mutilated and abandoned during periods of armed conflict.
Question: What would you suggest that the Bank do to improve the lot of African women?
Answer: I plead that the Bank increase the number of women in project departments; further emphasize girls’ enrolment and continued education; set up microcredit for women; grant special scholarships to girls to encourage excellence; and give priority to health centers so than African women never have to die in the process of bringing to the world another life. Moreover, my dream is to see the Bank set up a visible platform for young African women who are committed and trained to advocate for women’s advancement within their environment. I believe that the solution to women’s problems will come from women themselves.