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Aminatou Supports the Youth in Niger

Since 2017, Sciences Po has been in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program. This partnership enables bright and ambitious students from Sub-Saharan Africa to enroll in a degree programme in the social sciences at Sciences Po, with the aim of training a new generation of change-makers in their home countries.

Meet Aminatou Seydou who graduated in June 2023 from the Master in International Development of the Paris School of International Affairs (PSIA) at Sciences Po. She is also an alumna of the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program who launched a project for children in the streets in Niger, and is now working as a policy associate at J-PAL on projects empowering girls and women in West Africa

Introduce yourself: who are you? Why did you choose Sciences Po for your studies? 

Born and raised in Niger, my lifelong passion has revolved around community development and gender empowerment. Following my undergraduate studies in international relations at Michigan State University, I aspired to acquire not only practical skills and knowledge but also to cultivate a robust network that would enable me to initiate my own community development initiatives and help solve global challenges.

Sciences Po was the right place to achieve those objectives. I am a proud PSIA alumna, having recently graduated from a Master’s degree in International Development.

Can you describe your experience at PSIA? 

Enrico Letta, a former Dean of PSIA, once eloquently said, "PSIA excels in bridging the gap between theory and practice, offering an ideal platform for future leaders to thrive as innovative and responsible actors in a challenging global landscape." These words continue to resonate with me as I reflect upon my experience at PSIA.

Currently, I serve as a policy associate at Abdul Latif Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL), focusing on the empowerment and education of girls in West Africa. The courses I engaged in, including those in development economics, randomised evaluations, and policy analysis, have proven instrumental in equipping me with the knowledge and skills required for my current role. Furthermore, PSIA provided me with the opportunity to engage with influential figures, including global change-makers, activists, presidents, and diplomats, individuals I might never have encountered otherwise. 

During your studies, you launched a project for children in Niger, can you tell us more about it? Why did you decide to do it, is it still going on?

In many developing countries, including Niger, children are among the most vulnerable individuals. Due to the worsening social and economic conditions of families, some children are forced to beg on the streets for survival, often being denied their basic rights.

The project aims to promote the social and economic integration of 10 street children aged from 12 to 18, some of them are orphans or have disabled parents, by engaging them in income-generating activities. These children are particularly affected as they lack access to formal education or vocational training. Our goal is to equip these young individuals with knowledge and skills through activities of their choice, such as makeup, fashion design, and creating art from dry waste. The project is ongoing, with a focus on providing more extensive and high-quality training.

As a member of the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program, what does the “Scholars community” mean to you?

The “Scholars community” represents a vibrant and diverse network of individuals who share a common passion for learning, growth, and positive impact. This community is not merely a collection of students from all over the African continent. It is a supportive ecosystem where ideas flourish, cultures converge, and friendships are forged. It's a place where we inspire and empower each other to overcome obstacles, pursue our dreams, and make a meaningful difference in our respective communities.

The scholar’s community is a source of invaluable connections, mentorship, and shared experiences that transcend borders and backgrounds, reminding us of the global perspective we all carry. 

What are your projects for the future?

My short-term objective is to continue working with researchers and policymakers through my current position at J-PAL. Working on projects designed to empower women and girls has always been my passion.

Beyond my career aspiration, I harbour a profound desire to take concrete steps towards effecting positive change within my home country of Niger. My vision is to orchestrate a series of innovative projects that place the youth at the very heart of transformative endeavours, thereby channeling their energy, creativity, and potential toward shaping a brighter future for our society. Doing so will drive sustainable development, foster a sense of agency and empowerment among the youth, and ultimately pave the way for enduring progress in Niger and beyond.   

What would be your advice to the ones who want to study at Sciences Po?

Should I offer guidance to an aspiring student, my first advice would be to use the Alumni as part of your resources. Their insights can serve as an invaluable resource in crafting a robust application. Furthermore, I would like to emphasise the significance of cherishing one's unique experiences.

Every individual possesses a distinctive blend of talent, perspectives, and accomplishments; It is imperative not to underestimate the richness of your own journey. I encourage future students to recognise the worth of their own unique narrative and the potential it holds for enriching the broader educational experience.

Learn all you need to know about the Mastercard Foundation Scholarship.

Cover image caption: Aminatou Seydou, alumna of the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program. (credits: Manuel Braun)


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