Weaving a tapestry of sisterhood across West Africa
- Carolin, Inaïssa and Sofietou © Sciences Po
During the 2019/2020 academic year, five Master’s students take part in a team project, an introductory project management module. They conduct a research-action project for and with the NGO Equipop. Carolin, Chloé, Hannah, Inaïssa and Sofietou will draw up an in-depth report on the collective actions of young feminists in three French-speaking West African countries: Guinea, Ivory Coast and Senegal.
Why did you choose to commit yourselves to this project?
Carolin: I found that team projects were a great opportunity to establish the link between theory and practice. It is also an opportunity to mingle with other students and professional players. This is what motivated my choice. I am student at the School of International Affairs and had just come back from a gap year: I didn’t want to loose the practical side of things.
And I chose this specific project on West African youth activists because it fitted into my areas of interest, namely: development economics, education, and empowerment of women. This is what drew me in.
Inaïssa: For my part, I study Political science at the Doctoral School, so my curriculum offers mostly theoretic knowledge and doesn’t necessarily entail practical aspects like field studies. Thus this project helps me to develop it and gives me new skills in project management.
I was particularly interested in this project because before enrolling at Sciences Po I studied anthropology and had taken a great deal of interest in the issue of West African women migration. So this project gives me an opportunity to pursue these reflections and incorporate a gender perspective into it.
Sofietou: I agree with both of you. For my part, I got a Bachelor degree at Sciences Po, in the Europe-Africa programme. So I took theoretical classes on Africa and more specifically on Sub-Saharan Africa.
I choose to enter this Team project precisely to develop a practical approach on the topic and to experiment with project management. And being Senegalese, I was instantly drawn to the research topic. I have been in touch with feminists in Senegal and it made perfect sense to me to conduct research on their collective actions.
You are conducting research on the collective actions of young feminists in Francophone West Africa. Why is it important?
Inaïssa: I feel like international feminist movements, in Europe or in the Americas for example, receive a lot of attention. Also, over the past few years, we heard about feminist actions carried out in Anglophone Africa. But I have the impression that it is slightly more complicated regarding Francophone Africa: collective actions are less visible. So I find our work interesting as it can make it visible and amplify present dynamics to improve their visibility.
Carolin: We will also take the socio economic dimension into account. Women’s actions must be made visible for them to have a real impact. The idea behind this report is really to inform the NGO Equipop on how they can better support the young activists we will meet. We are going to help them identify levers for potential action.
Inaïssa: The goal is to deliver a report that may also be helpful on the ground, for feminists themselves. Sometimes when you take action in the heat of the moment you don’t get an overall perspective. Hopefully our report will be able to do its bit
Sofietou: And our work may also be useful to potential feminist groups seeking to develop and grow.
Carolin: Yes, that’s it. It could enable the creation of a network, forge strong links between young feminists.
How are you progressing?
Carolin: We started off small with meetings and we just provided Equipop with a draft of our literature review that informs on the socio economic and political contexts and on the feminists’ rights in the three countries under study: Guinea, Ivory Coast and Senegal.
Inaïssa: Then we will carry out a document review and map the feminist mouvements. We already prepared a questionnaire for a first series of interviews and we are getting in touch with the activists.
Carolin: This is crucial to our work because we get to be well-informed before we carry interviews on the ground.
What have you learned from your literature review?
Sofietou: We note that, although Guinea, Ivory Coast and Senegal share borders, they follow different trends.
Inaissa: Indeed, we sometimes blend countries together in just one group: West Africa. In that connection, it is very interesting to note how different countries have followed different trends, even if these three countries have in common forms of pre- and post- colonisation.
Carolin: And getting a good command of these differences will be of great importance to conduct field interviews in Guinea and Ivory Coast in January, we will prepare specific questions for each country.