While women’s political participation has increased in Burkina Faso since the decentralization process began in 1998, there are still major cultural and structural barriers that must be overcome to ensure women’s effective participation in public life. Since 2005, NDI has supported women’s increased political participation in Burkina Faso through a Sida-funded program that has contributed to the election of 6,400 women local councilors (about one-third of the approximately 18,000 total local councilors) and enhanced the management skills of women councilors and mayors. NDI recently began training a corps of master trainers to continue increasing the capacity of women councilors and party activists. The Institute will also continue to consult with and advise political parties on the implementation of a proposed gender quota system awaiting a vote in parliament.
Burkina Faso’s ongoing decentralization process has provided significant opportunities to increase women’s participation in politics. However, many of the newly elected women councilors cannot effectively contribute to solve key issues, including poverty reduction and local development initiatives, because of challenges such as low literacy and education levels and lack of support for women in decision-making positions.
NDI is committed to building the capacity of women in politics to address constituents’ concerns and tackle major policy issues. NDI has partnered with political parties and civic groups to identify and train more than one hundred men and women master trainers from the main political parties responding to the need for technical skills among women politicians.
NDI also recently launched an extensive consultation process with Burkinabe women to select which of the 359 communes have the greatest potential and need for increased and effective women’s political participation. NDI will use the results of these consultations to design the next five years of its program.
Another major opportunity for increasing women’s political participation is a 30 percent gender quota bill under consideration in the current legislative session. Currently, only 17 of the 111 members of parliament are women. In order to assist political parties’ understanding of the opportunities and challenges related to passing and implementing a gender quota law, NDI is producing an analysis of the bill and its possible impact on women’s political participation. NDI intends to use this analysis in conjunction with the Institute’s Win With Women Political Party Assessment tool and Global Action Plan to help the parties identify shortcomings regarding their recruitment of women members and to conduct strategic planning sessions on how to enhance support for the implementation of the pending quota law.
Efforts to increase women’s political participation in Burkina Faso have had significant success over the past three years. However, many challenges remain and new opportunities exist. NDI remains dedicated to supporting increased and effective women’s political participation in Burkina Faso.
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Published on December 17, 2008