Chaque 28 mai est consacré à la célébration de la journée mondiale de l’hygiène menstruelle. Cette journée nous concerne tous sans distinction de sexe, d’âge, de race, de situation géographique et de religion. Pourtant au Burkina Faso, parler des menstrues est toujours un sujet tabou. Cette difficulté à parler des menstrues en général et en particulier des comportements à adopter pour une bonne hygiène menstruelle freine l’avancée de nombreux efforts qui sont faits au quotidien pour l’égalité des genres.

La menstruation est un processus biologique naturel et normal qui témoigne d’une bonne santé reproductive de la femme. Elle ne doit pas être perçue comme un phénomène qui dégage une aura négative, de la peur, de la honte et de la gêne. C’est ainsi que cette journée mondiale de l’hygiène menstruelle se veut être une occasion de briser les tabous sur la menstruation, de sensibiliser et engager une conversation sur la thématique. Elle a pour but également d’interpeller les différents acteurs et décideurs clés sur la précarité menstruelle. 

Parmi les Objectifs du Développement Durable (ODD), l’ODD 6 « Eau propre et assainissement » vise à assurer la disponibilité et la gestion durable de l’eau potable et de l’assainissement, et un des buts précis implique de donner accès aux femmes et aux filles à des installations sanitaires et à des mesures d’hygiène adéquates d’ici 2030. Il est donc indispensable d’aligner la thématique de l’hygiène menstruelle comme une priorité de santé publique. 

Pour dynamiser la célébration de la journée mondiale de l’hygiène menstruelle et apporter notre contribution dans la lutte, nous organisons incessamment des évènements. En guise d’exemples, nous pouvons citer les campagnes digitales, les causeries éducatives, les formations sur la confection des serviettes hygiéniques réutilisables, des plaidoyers, des activités de mobilisation de ressource personnelles pour doter des serviettes hygiéniques réutilisables aux jeunes filles et femmes vulnérables. 

Toutes ces actions traduisent notre vision : « celle de créer un monde dans lequel toutes les jeunes filles et femmes sont épanouies ». Aussi ces actions ont pour but de :

Le 24 mai de cette année, nous avons lancé une campagne digitale sur nos réseaux de communication. Aussi, le samedi 28 mai, nous avons tenu une discussion sur les menstrues de façon générale et les mythes autours de la thématique. Cette discussion a réuni plus d’une vingtaine de nos membres et prendra fin par une séance aérobic pour dénoncer les nombreuses difficultés auxquelles les jeunes filles et femmes sont confrontées pendant leurs menstrues.

Ne restez pas en marge, nous devons toutes et tous briser les tabous autour de la santé et de la gestion de l’hygiène menstruelle, alors engagez-vous également à nos côtés !


Par Farida Tiemtore, Présidente des Héroïnes du Faso et récipiendaire du Fonds Voix EssentiELLES. 

In Dakar, Senegal, to mark Africa Day, not-for-profit organization Speak Up Africa has brought together partners to celebrate the many actors in the development sector.

Almost a year after the launch of the African LeadHERs campaign, which aims to promote and amplify the voices and actions of African women, from all sectors of society, working daily for gender equality, and the first ever African LeadHERs Forum in March 2022, Speak Up Africa is launching its African LeadHERs podcast in collaboration with Entre-Elles, a platform for expression and sharing created by Tombany Kouloufoua. 

« The Entre-Elles podcast is extremely proud to be working with Speak Up Africa to launch the African LeadHers podcast series. Amplifying the voice of the world’s women is at the heart of the Entre-Elles mission and we are delighted to be able to celebrate Africa Day alongside the African LeadHers of today and tomorrow. »

Tombany Kouloufoua, founder of Entre-Elles.

The first six-episodes series of the podcast will highlight the profiles and actions of participants in the Voix EssentiELLES initiative, which aims to support women and girls in all of their diversity, by meaningfully engaging them in decision-making processes and spaces that influence health policies and programs. At the podcast’s launch, the Senegalese slam poet Samira Fall took up the subject and developed an audio recital on the importance of women’s voices in the public space. This text echoes the African LeadHERs Forum Manifesto to which Ysaora Thibus, fencer and French Olympic medallist, Diandra Tchouatchang, basketball player and French Olympic medallist and Badgyalcassie, choreographer and influencer contributed.

« The African LeadHERs Forum is a very important platform for us, professional athletes, to share our experiences with a focus on transmission and in a spirit of sisterhood. I met some great people there, such as the recipients of the Voix EssentiELLES initiative, who have inspired me enormously. These discussions have changed me and I am convinced that by reclaiming the narrative, we can break the bias. »

Yasora Thibus in her interview at the Forum

On May 25, Speak Up Africa also presented the Union Sportive de Ouakam with a cheque for one million CFA francs from the Funds allocated to the organization at the first ever Sport Impact Award ceremony organised by Sport Impact. In March 2022, Speak Up Africa received the Jury Prize for the impact of the activity held in January 2021 during the celebration of World Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) Day. On that day, Speak Up Africa, along with the Yard agency, the Ministry of Health and Social Action and key partners in the fight against NTDs, organized the painting of a participatory fresco on the grounds of US Ouakam, at the foot of the Renaissance Monument, as well as the painting of portraits of Sadio Mané, Omar Sy, Issa Rae and Tacko Fall. The activation generated over 10 million impressions on social networks through the engagement of influencers Observateur and Fatou Guinea and the virality of the content. 

« We were delighted to receive the Jury Award from Sport en Commun, which highlights Speak Up Africa’s work in the field of sport and influence, and we are now pleased to continue our collaboration with US Ouakam, enabling them to strengthen their activities and create an attractive environment for women’s sport in communities. The Kigali Summit on NTDs and malaria will take place next month in Rwanda and it is important for us to continue our advocacy through this mural so that everyone continues to say No to NTDs! »

Yacine Djibo, Speak Up Africa’s Executive Director

On that day, ahead of the World Menstrual Hygiene Day held every 28 May, Speak Up Africa gave its long-time partner, Special Olympics Senegal, a batch of 1,200 sanitary towels, intended for athletes living with an intellectual disability, to protect themselves better each month, during their menstrual cycle. 

« I would like to thank Speak Up Africa for supporting our female athletes by distributing these sanitary towels. Menstruation is a natural reality, but girls and women living with intellectual disabilities often find it more difficult to manage their periods with dignity, and the first barrier is access to tools to help them manage. These sanitary towels will allow our athletes to better manage their periods and thus be able to live their lives more decently »

Rajah Sy, Director of Special Olympics Senegal.
Since 6 April 2022, the French city of Marseille has been hosting the 11th AFRAVIH conference, the Francophone Alliance of health actors against HIV and chronic or emerging viral infections. Founded in 2009, AFRAVIH’s aim is to bring together health professionals from different communities engaged in the fight against HIV in French-speaking countries.

From Ouagadougou and Abidjan, Farida Sonia Tiemtore and Pélagie Akoua Kouame took part in the conference to promote the Voix EssentiELLES pilot initiative, implemented by Speak Up Africa, a non-profit strategic communications and advocacy organisation based in Dakar, Senegal, and co-funded by the Global Fund and Fondation CHANEL. 

« We are delighted today to meet the heroines working on a daily basis and in their respective communities for gender equality and more specifically the fight against HIV/AIDS and gender-based violence. Their stories and their voices are essential to advance our common goals and strengthen the capacity of organisations led by women and girls. »

Françoise Vanni, Head of External Relations and Communications at the Global Fund.

Voix EssentiELLES aims to support women and girls, in all of their diversity, by meaningfully engaging them in decision-making processes and spaces that influence health policies and programmes in Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal. Through this pilot, Speak Up Africa and its partners aim to address four main challenges, namely

  1. the limited political participation and representation of women and girls in decision-making spaces for policies and programmes that affect their health,
  2. deep-rooted harmful socio-cultural practices, including various forms of violence,
  3. insufficient and indirect resources dedicated to women-led community organisations, and finally
  4. the limited capacity of small grassroots organisations to engage in advocacy work.

« Voix EssentiELLES allows us to carry out real advocacy, at our level and in our communities, in particular for women and young people, who are in my opinion the pillars of our development. We can eliminate HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, but to do so we need a collective solidarity that echoes across borders. From Burkina Faso to Abidjan to Dakar, we are fighting for what’s important, and we are keen to see this project scaled up across the entire sub-region. »

Farida Sonia Tiemtore, Founder and President of Héroïnes du Faso.

Because voice, decision-making and leadership are vital factors for the empowerment of women, the Héroïnes du Faso association works for the well-being of women in the land of honest men (and women). Its goal is to promote respect for women’s sexual and reproductive health rights, social engagement, education and the empowerment of women. Through the Voix EssentiELLES pilot initiative, in which it participates, a catalytic fund of 170 million CFA has been created to support selected women’s and girls’ organisations with achievable time-limited objectives. 

« We are working tirelessly on common sustainable development goals for global health. To achieve them, we also need to think about and support the goals of women and girls at community level. Listen to them, support them and fund them, because their solutions and actions must be our guidelines for the development of our strategies and action plans. »

Stéphanie Seydoux, France’s Ambassador for Global Health. 

This September, the Global Fund will hold its Seventh Replenishment Conference where at least $18 billion will be needed to fight HIV, TB and malaria and to strengthen health systems. Since its creation, the Global Fund has invested over US$53 billion, saving 44 million lives and reducing the combined death rate from the three diseases by more than half in the countries in which it invests. In 2022, we need a new impetus for global solidarity and leadership.

« Funding from the Global Fund is crucial to the well-being of our communities. The inputs and medicines that enable us to fight HIV/AIDS on a daily basis save lives. In addition to these inputs, we need support to carry out our day-to-day work with women and sex workers. Voix EssentiELLES is an initiative that funds us directly and helps us to go about our activities, therefore funding from the initiative is more than essential for us and our beneficiaries. »

Pélagie Akoua Kouame, , Founder and Director of COVIE in Côte d’Ivoire.

Ultimately, community health is critical to achieve gender equality and end gender-based violence. To achieve this, innovative public-private partnerships are more than necessary in order to give a voice, a place and the tools they need to organisations that work daily with and for the most vulnerable people in our societies, women and girls in all their diversity. We need to change the narrative, change the paradigm and change behaviour and, above all, fight for what matters.

Marseille, 7 April 2022

For the first time, the World Water Forum is hosted in Sub-Saharan Africa, in Dakar, Senegal. And it is a timely but stark reminder of how the world is slipping behind its commitment to achieving universal access to safe sanitation by 2030.

Globally, the World Bank estimates that 2.4 billion people live without access to basic sanitation. Of these, 760 million live in Sub-Saharan Africa. More than 200 million people across the continent still practice open defecation. With numbers increasing in some countries, service providers fail to keep pace with population growth. As a result, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports two million deaths annually, with children under five years old. 

Access to safely managed sanitation is crucial for women and girls, and those living in vulnerable situations. Lack of sanitation management leads fecal sludge to be dumped in the living environment causing preventable and treatable endemic diseases such as neglected tropical diseases, malaria among others. Labelled as “the Forum of Responses,” this 9th World Water Forum provides an opportunity for Africa to present its solutions and responses; and for the first time ever sanitation is considered among the priority issue. As Senegal is considered a leader in the sanitation sector, both regionally and internationally, platforms are created for the community to propose sustainable solutions.

The prioritization of sanitation has led to the establishment of the Sanitation Village, a major innovation in World Water Forums. For the first time in history, sanitation has a dedicated space. The village of 24 stands and exhibitors witnessed the signing of a partnership agreement between the Government of Senegal and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on the first day of the Forum in the presence of Mr. Serigne Mbaye Thiam, Minister of Water and Sanitation of Senegal.

In the «Golden Sludge» space of the village, the visual artist Caroline Gueye was painting a triptych called «Boues d’Or et Bouts d’Arbre» (Golden Sludge and Tree Trunks) throughout the day, while at the entrance to the village, we were exhibiting pictures by the talented Senegalese photographer Laye Pro, highlighting the entire value chain of the sector.

The Village aims to strengthen advocacy and actions for the implementation of tangible responses to accelerate universal access to safely managed sanitation. Furthermore, it is a space for stakeholders to call for stronger actions towards the achievements of regional commitments and Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 6.2.  As an integral part of the 9th Forum’s major exhibition, the Village is a platform for advocacy, awareness raising, exchange, and learning on sanitation and hygiene, promoting ongoing innovations in sanitation, and mobilizing actors for the call to action.

For Speak Up Africa, we believe African nations must develop the solutions needed to tackle African health challenges. And thus, it is natural for us to focus on awareness, prioritization, and commitment to improving access to adequate and equitable sanitation for all in Africa. Through platforms such as the World Water Forum, and the Sanitation Village, Speak Up Africa convenes its partners, ranging from the private sector to civil society including decision-makers and the media for multi-stakeholder discussions to raise the profile of sanitation. A total of eleven sessions and side-events were organized in the Village with more than 700 participants attending.

On the side-lines of the World Water Forum, the Minister of Water and Sanitation of Senegal, Mr. Serigne Mbaye Thiam has officially launched and endorsed Speak Up Africa’s Golden Sludge Campaign. A campaign aiming to reinforce awareness-raising, prioritization, and political commitment through the implementation of equitable and inclusive sanitation policies. This campaign will enable Speak Up Africa to support African countries in addressing these challenges and creating an enabling environment for safely managed sanitation in Africa.

With less than eight years left to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, we are convinced that through initiatives such as the Sanitation Village is possible to identify the best and most adapted solutions to the African context and realities. 

Furthermore, it is also a key determinant for sustainable food production, industrial development, and urbanization. But critical questions remain. How to recover resources from waste? What is each actor’s role along the sanitation value chain? How can contextual systems be installed for sludge and solid waste disposal and treatment? And above all, how can we encourage more women to take charge and inform the solutions for Africa’s sanitation issues.

The 9th World Water Forum provides a platform for responses to all these issues as we continue to rethink our approach to the various challenges upon us, the best practices, and initiatives to our different contexts.

By Yacine Djibo, Executive Director, Speak Up Africa

En prélude au 9ème Forum mondiale de l’eau, des femmes du secteur ont organisé le 20 mars 2022 un dialogue sur les défis de l’assainissement et la place qu’elles occupent dans les entreprises. Une occasion pour certaines de partager leur parcours.

Le dialogue des femmes dans le secteur de l’eau et de l’assaisonnement tenu hier montre le leadership féminin dans cette rencontre internationale. Cet échange en prélude du 9e Forum mondial de l’eau a permis à beaucoup de femmes de partager leur vécu. C’est le cas de la Directrice Général de la Sen Eau. Pour Mme Janny Arnal l’eau se voit au féminin. 

« Avant de commencer ma carrière, je voyais que tout le monde était géré par les hommes. Ils occupaient tous les grands postes. Mais si c’est un poste voulu par une femme, il faut prouver », défend- t-elle. Poursuivant son témoignage elle souligne qu’à un moment donné elle est allée voir le Directeur pour un poste dans les opérations. « Il me dit une femme opératrice. Donc il fallait prouver, montrer au plombier que je suis capable de faire une prise en charge. En plus de cela je dois assurer tout le monde que je n’avais pas besoin de montrer.  C’est ça les femmes il faut osez. Il ne faut pas se résigner. Il faut montrer qu’on est bien capable de le faire », explique Mme Arnal. 

Avant de conseiller aux femmes d’aller toujours chercher le meilleur. Selon elle, les femmes se remettent toujours en question à cause de leur humilité.

« L’humilité de la femme fait qu’on se pose des questions si l’on est capable. Oui on est capable. Et vous faites la richesse des entreprises dans tous les pays du monde. On a quelque chose en force c’est le cœur.  Quand on fait avec le cœur on fait les choses plus que les hommes. Alors osez chères femmes osez ». 

Mme Arnal

Ce dialogue inscrit sous le thème : « Soutenir la croissance et promouvoir la visibilité des femmes professionnelles : la clé du succès du secteur Eau, Assainissement », vise selon Cheikh Tidjane Fall, représentant du Secrétaire exécutif dudit Forum à renforcer les capacités des femmes professionnelles et à les positionner au cœur des actions pour améliorer l’accès à l’eau et à l’assaisonnement. C’est aussi une illustration de plus pour les organisations de femmes.

« Les femmes sont très engagées pour la réussite du forum qui s’organise à Dakar au nom de toute l’Afrique. Il est impossible de parler de développent socio-économique de santé de paix et de sécurité sans l’implication des femmes et des filles du monde entier. Elles ont un rôle important aux côtés des autres acteurs de la société pour contribuer à la construction d’un monde ».

M. Fall
Ouagadougou, Abidjan and Dakar, March 10, 2022 – On the sidelines of the Generation Equality Forum, in June 2021, Speak Up Africa launched its “African LeadHERs” initiative, which aims to promote and amplify the voices and actions of African women and girls who strive to achieve gender equality. African LeadHERs promotes a new mindset to think and act creatively to drive action through innovation and inclusion of women and girls in decision making spaces in order to achieve a fairer and more equal world. 

To commemorate International Women’s Day, Speak Up Africa organized its first ever African LeadHERs Forum. The event took place March 7th and 8th and convened more than 260 participants online & in person in Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal including 26 experts and champions through 6 activations. Day one of the Forum focused on the Voix EssentiELLES initiative launched by Speak Up Africa in 2021 and co-funded by the Global Fund and the Fondation CHANEL.Through this initiative, female-led grassroots and community-based organizations have an opportunity to secure a grant of up to US$10,000, or up to XOF 5 million, to the entities or the organization leaders. 

« We are thankful for organizations like Speak Up Africa, which support us by providing funding, technical support, and capacity-building opportunities such as the workshop on storytelling »

Fatimata Sy, President of the Senegalese Association for the Future of Women and Children (ASAFE) and a beneficiary of the Voix EssentiELLES fund in Senegal.

The cost of gender discrimination and inequality has myriad ramifications. High incidences of gender discrimination tend to result in correspondingly higher percentages of human rights violations such as female genital mutilation (FGM) and sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). FGM, a pervasive violation of bodily corporal rights, is estimated by UNICEF to have affected 200 million women across thirty countries.

Financial literacy is another challenge a lot of societies face. Advancing financial literacy reduces the number of the unbanked, which, in turn, helps empower women – by putting them on the pathway to financial independence. Yet financial literacy can help further empower women and mothers, by delaying the age at which girl children are married off. Often, girls are pressured to drop out of school and marry at very young ages, and are deterred from pursuing further education. In Ivory Coast, the Voix EssentiELLEs workshop focused on the power of financial inclusion of women to break the bias facilitated by Mariam Djibo, General Manager of Advans Côte d’Ivoire, a microfinance institution, while in Burkina Faso, beneficiaries of the project learned via Harouna Drabo, journalist and fact-checker the power of communication and story-telling. Day one of the Forum concluded with Nadia Mensah Acogny on the art of speaking publicly while emphasizing on the importance of self-condidence, “No one knows how to talk about your issues and your solutions better than you do”, she concluded.

« Empowering women is a matter of economic, legal and moral common sense » …

Jean-Philbert Nsengimana, Africa Managing Director of the Commons Project Africa Managing Director of the Commons Project during our high-level online conversation on women-led innovation in Africa 

« Achieving sustainable health and gender equality on the continent »

on day two of the African LeadHERs Forum. Organized in partnership with the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers (IFPMA), with whom we launched the Africa Young Innovators Award in 2020 and the Women Innovators Incubator in September 2021. The Incubator aims to address the blatant gaps in female-led innovation and tackle additional hurdles they have to face to help take their business ideas from concept to implementation.

Featured significantly in the forum was the importance of owning one’s narratives, a message also underscored by Speak Up Africa in their work. The second day of the Forum also discussed ways to advance gender mainstreaming, while highlighting diversity.

« Initiatives such as the African LeadHERs Forum help underscore the importance of positive movements »

« More often than not, women are conditioned to imbibe harmful messaging about their place in society, both at work and at home. Women must see themselves represented and empowered in any room they walk into. »

Ysaora Thibus, fencer and 2021 team Olympic silver medalist on the importance of representation and sports to achieve gender equality.

In 2020, Ysaora created Essentielle stories to support the narrative around women in sports by providing them with a platform to express themselves and tell their own stories. Alongside Ysaora during the final event of the Forum held under the theme « Sport, leadHERship and influence: the power of representation to break bias”, Diandra Tchouatchang, French basketball player and 2021 team Olympic silver medalist as well and Cassandra Ngbolonga, professional choregrapher, Founder of Beafrika and Instagram sensation. The panel and afternoon activities concluded with the painting of an African LeadHERs fresco, where the three women engraved their messages on the walls. Rajah Sy, Director of Special Olympics Senegal and Astou Ndiaye, WNBA champion also participated in the discussions in front of 30 young girls and women.

« It is important we focus on celebrating our differences and see them for what they are: strengths. »

Rajah Sy.

During the African LeadHERs Forum, Speak Up Africa launched their Gender and Social Inclusion strategy. The plan, with four strategic orientations and eight operational standards set for gender mainstreaming, details a multi-pronged approach to providing solutions to the most critical issues that African populations face when working to create a more equitable world.

Globally, gender inequity and lack of parity has proven itself detrimental to advancing women’s rights and equality. The cost can be measured across various metrics, including jobs, opportunities, livelihood, and social perceptions.

« Discrimination needs action, as well as awareness raising and acknowledgment. We have identified six key guiding principles and four main strategic orientations that set the tone for our work in advancing gender mainstreaming, »

« We also established a robust implementation framework, with eight minimum guiding standards. Setting clear, realistic targets makes the plan achievable, and spells out the way that each action matters. »

Yacine Djibo, Founder and Executive Director of Speak Up Africa.
Ouagadougou, Abidjan, Dakar, March 8, 2022

As part of the African LeadHERs Forum and to mark International Women’s Day, Speak Up Africa convenes “Voix essentiELLEs” organizations in Ouagadougou, Abidjan and Dakar, to break the bias and achieve gender equality.

The Voix EssentiELLES initiative was launched in 2021 to positively impact and amplify women’s voice, leadership, and decision-making powers at different levels. It celebrates diversity in women and girls, and actively engages them in empowering spaces set up to help address the harmful ramifications of gender bias.

Gender bias has powerful implications in women’s careers and daily lives. In the event of work often carried out by women, societally that work is undervalued. Unfortunately, women face similar discrimination outcomes when doing work in typically underrepresented fields. Thus, women face gender discrimination across various areas- including salary, the perception of their commitment to work.

As a strategic communications and advocacy organization, Speak Up Africa is dedicated itself to fostering policy change and increasing awareness for sustainable development – particularly around Malaria, Neglected Tropical Diseases, sanitation and immunization. The organization is also invested in catalyzing leadership – particularly within the female demographic. To mark International Womens’ Day, Speak Up Africa launched its first ever African LeadHERs Forum to celebrate and promote women’s leadership, actions, voices and innovations across the continent. On its first day, the Forum focused on the Voix EssentiELLEs initiative and its “University of ExcELLEnce”. In-person and online sessions were organized in Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal in order to raise the profile and provide platforms to community voices, highlight the power and crucial representation of community voices in the national, regional and global dialogues that impact their health and strengthen the leadership capacities – in communications, financial inclusion and public speaking.

The day started with a session, facilitated by Harouna Drabo, journalist and fact-checker in Burkina Faso, womens’ rights advocate and Awardee of the Speak Up Africa Leadership Award in 2021, and joined by 23 CBOs in-person. The theme of the session “Breaking the bias in the media: the power of storytelling and communications” reinforced the importance of women’s voices in the media and reclaiming the narrative. 

“The African LeadHERs Forum is an excellent platform to build the profile of women in the media. Our session and discussions emphasized on the crucial need of a new narrative that will reveal the full potential of women, and above all, shed light on their meaningful to contributions to Africa’s overall development.” commented Harouna Drabo. 

In Côte d’Ivoire, the session focused on financial inclusion was facilitated by Mariam Djibo, General Director of Advans Côte d’Ivoire and Dr. Emma Angoua, President of the Global Platform for Women Entrepreneurs in Côte d’Ivoire. “In Côte d’Ivoire, 9 million women actively participate to the country’s economy but only 1 million of them have a bank account. Providing financial services to these women is a crucial step to their financial and overall empowerment.” added Mariam Djibo.

The first day of the Forum ended with a session featuring Nadia Mensah-Acogny, Chief Operating Officer of Acosphere. Joined by more than 20 CBOs and special guests including Diandra Tchatchouang, French Basketball Player and winner of the Bronze medal with Team France during the last olympic grames in Tokyo, Ysaora Thibus, Fencer, three-time olympian and winner of a silver medal with Team France in Tokyo as well and Cassie Ngbolonga, Choregrapher and influencer from the Central African Republic. During the session on the power of speech and public speaking, Nadia Mensah Acogny highlighted: “Taking the floor is taking the power. But power is not given, it’s conquered. Mastering the art of speech enables us to transform the way others look at us, break the bias, rewrite history and write our future.”

As it stands, women are strongly disincentivized to take on the mantle of leadership. Whether culturally or economically, across numerous countries the cultural norms tend to favour women working in the home. Alongside this, young girls are often pressured to marry early, and discouraged from going to school. Thus these cultural attitudes inform the social norms, and contribute to the relatively smaller numbers of girls and women in business, a count which seems to get smaller in correlation to the company position.

These have economic as well as public health ramifications, with a lack of education, knowledge, emancipation and financial independence often leading to poorer health outcomes amongst women and girls – especially in regards to maternal, natal, and sexual health. Furthermore, community-transmissible viruses and other major public health diseases such as malaria, HIV and malaria have been a persistent scourge in certain climates. 

“Through Voix EssentiELLES, part of our mission is to help break this bias” concluded Yacine Djibo, Executive Director of Speak Up Africa. “This involves creating a positive movement that allows women to not only see themselves represented in any room they walk into – but also to meaningfully participate in decision making spaces that affect their health”.

At Speak Up Africa, we believe in an inclusive society in which every man, woman and child is empowered to live a healthy and productive life. This International Women’s Day, we  are taking a stand and commit to further integrating gender and social inclusion issues in our institutional and programmatic processes to contribute to the well-being of our staff and the communities we serve. 

The implementation of this strategy will fuel our ambition to assume leadership and generate conversations about gender equity and social inclusion flowing beyond the workplace, into our homes, and into our society as a whole. It will also empower Speak up Africa to further advocate for gender equality and reinforce the effectiveness of our programs through inclusive leadership to ensure that women, youth, people with disabilities and other marginalized groups are part of decision-making processes.

As an organization that supports Sustainable Development Goals 1-6, our work is rooted in championing action that strengthens voices of the marginalized. Therefore, to ensure that no one is left behind, we will continue to develop alliances and work with partners and governments to build capacity on gender and social inclusion.

Thus, we commit to:

  1. Accelerating capacity building and improve attitudes of staff and partners towards gender and social inclusion issues.
  2. Strengthening  our institutional system to better take into account gender and social inclusion.
  3. Strengthening  the consideration of gender and social inclusion in all programs.
  4. Creating an enabling environment for gender mainstreaming in national, regional and global policies and strategies.

Today, we invite our stakeholders to join us in integrating gender and social inclusion issues in their policies and programs. 

Together, let’s strive for a fairer, more inclusive, and equitable world!

Speak Up Africa Team

More information about
African LeadHERs Gender and Social Inclusion

IFPMA and Speak Up feature powerful examples of women-led innovation in the continent’s healthcare entrepreneurship ecosystem 

Amidst the COVID-19 health crisis, young African entrepreneurs have developed region-specific technologies and solutions to ensure continued access to healthcare while supporting, protecting, and equipping healthcare professionals in the delivery of essential care. Who are those innovators shaping the future of Africa’s public healthcare? How are their innovations improving and transforming communities’ lives?

On the 4th edition of Galien Forum Africa, held from 8th to 9th December, 2021, the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA) and Speak Up Africa will host virtual conferences promoting youth and women innovations in Africa’s healthcare entrepreneurship space. The virtual conferences will gather high-profile African health influencers, experts and business leaders including Professor Awa Marie Coll-Seck, Minister of State of Senegal and President of the Scientific Committee at the Galien Forum Africa; Greg Perry, Assistant Director General of IFPMA; Karim Bendhaou, Chair of the IFPMA Africa engagement committee, Yacine Djibo, Founder & Executive Director of Speak Up Africa.

A specific focus of discussion will address the status of women in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) sector, the challenge of eliminating gender imbalance from science, technology and innovation disciplines in Africa and future actions to advance women-led innovation in the continent’s healthcare entrepreneurship ecosystem. This discussion will also celebrate women innovators and participants of the Women Innovators Incubator (a program from the Africa Young Innovators for Health Award) developing high-impact solutions to Africa’s various healthcare needs, namely Nuriat Nambogo (CEO, MobiCare), Marie Chantal Umunyana (CEO, Umubyeyi) and Angella Kyomugisha (Co-Founder and COO, Kaaro Health). 

Women account for 30 percent of Sub-Saharan Africa’s researchers and innovators and face limited access to funding and skills gaps that are key to business enterprises’ formation, scale-up, and sustainability. By not bridging the gender gap in STEM, Africa is also missing out on a more gendered perspective in addressing critical issues in global health. This persistent gender disparity will prevent women innovators from achieving their potential and effectively contributing to development challenges.

African women are an untapped economic force. They will be integral in addressing the many health development challenges Africa faces. There is a need for efforts to close the gender gap in STEM to ensure that women as much as men benefit as citizens and contributors to their societies.

Professor Awa Marie Coll-Seck, Minister of State of Senegal and President of the Scientific Committee at the Forum Galien Africa. 

In response to the persistent gender disparities, IFPMA and Speak Up Africa, partners of the Africa Young Innovators for Health Award launched the Women Innovators Incubator. The initiative focuses on providing a supportive environment for women entrepreneurs to create and grow high-impact and sustainable solutions to Africa’s most pressing healthcare needs. Women entrepreneurs on the incubator benefit from financial support, mentorship, media training, expert advice on IP protection and access to the rich network of supporters of this Award.

We continue to work to break through the long-standing barriers that are holding back women from making their mark in science, innovation and technology. We want to play a small part in tearing down barriers by supporting some of Africa’s brightest female innovators with the tools they need to turn their innovative ideas and aspirations into a reality. We want to see their creations take shape to help improve the health and wellbeing of African communities; and we want them to inspire the next generation of young women scientists and engineers.

Thomas Cueni partner IFPMA Director-General

Women and girls can play a more active role in boosting the transformation of African economies, fueling innovation and getting us closer to critical healthcare solutions quicker.

We continue to champion initiatives that will provide opportunities and support them grow further and be an example to future generations venturing into science, technology and innovation fields.

Yacine Djibo, Executive Director at Speak Up Africa
PROGRAM

On 8th December 2021 : Leadership and innovation: Meet the Africa Young Innovators for Health Award winners from 9 AM GMT (Register here). 

This session will introduce the first three winners of the Africa Young Innovators for Health Award. Conrad Tankou, CEO, GIC Space (Cameroon); John Mwangi, CEO, Daktari Media (Kenya) and Imodoye Abioro, CEO, Healthbotics (Nigeria) will highlight the value of Africa’s young population towards developing solutions that support, equip and train health workers delivering critical care to African communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. The winners shall be joined by Karim Bendhaou, Chair of the IFPMA Africa engagement committee and Whintey Mwangui, African Union Commission Advocacy, Partnerships & Communications Specialist. The session will be moderated by Maelle Ba, Communication director at Speak Up Africa. 

On 9th December 2021: Women in STEM in the context of global health security from 11 AM GMT (Register here). 

The session will address the status of women in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) sector and their critical role in Africa’s development. Key speakers will be Prof. Awa Marie Coll-Seck, President of the Scientific Committee of the Galien Forum and Minister of State of Senegal, Greg Perry, Assistant Director General of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA), Yacine Djibo, Founder and Executive Director of Speak Up Africa; and the participants of the Women Innovators Incubator. The session will be moderated by Mohamadou Diallo, Founder & Editor in chief of CIO Mag. 

The Africa Young Innovators for Health Award is supported by AMREF Health Africa, BroadReach, Ecobank Academy, Forum Galien Africa, IntraHealth International, Microsoft4Afrika, the Organisation Africaine de la Propriété Intellectuelle, the RBM Partnership to End Malaria, and Social Change Factory, alongside our media partners: Africa.com, Télésud, and SciDev.Net.

Senegalese advocacy tank celebrates remarkable individuals to mark 10 years of creating impact on the African continent 

Today, leading figures in sustainable development have been recognized for outstanding initiatives to improve public health across Africa. 

Recipients of the 2021 Leadership Award, including M. Serigne Mbaye Thiam, Minister of Water and Sanitation of Senegal, Professor Samba Sow, Director of the Centre of Vaccine Development in Mali and Sarah Diouf, Founder and Creative Director of Senegalese Fashion label Tongoro, are commended for achievements including improving access to sanitation and championing African-led research and development and prevention during COVID-19.

Initiated by the Senegalese non-profit advocacy tank Speak Up Africa, the 2021 Leadership Award honors those who have raised awareness of the continent’s most pressing public health issues, from immunization to malaria, neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and gender equality.

“Improving sanitation in Africa is one of our continent’s greatest challenges. It is a wonderful honor to receive Speak Up Africa’s Leadership Award this year, and I look forward to continuing to work with all the key stakeholders in the sector. Together, we can achieve access to sanitation for all by 2030.” 

Serigne Mbaye Thiam, Minister of Water and Sanitation Senegal 

Winners of this year’s award also include Dr. Dr Odry Fifonsi Agbessi AGro, President of Via Me in Bénin and Burkinabe journalist Harouna Drabo.

“Whether it has been battling COVID-19, or championing for greater gender equality, it has been a pleasure to collaborate with Speak Up Africa and use my platform for good. Fashion has the power to bring people together, and I am grateful to have been recognized by Speak Up Africa for my contribution this year.”

 Sarah Diouf, Founder and Creative Director of Senegalese fashion label Tongoro

The 2021 Leadership Award also coincides with Speak Up Africa’s 10th anniversary, celebrating a decade of driving change and improving lives on the continent. The past 10 years has seen this female-led organisation work to create and implement effective, sustainable solutions to the most recurrent problems facing Africa.

“For 10 years, Speak Up Africa has been working with incredible individuals and organisations across the continent on policy change, movement building and community engagement. It’s a great joy for me to recognize these exceptional people with our 2021 Leadership Award.” 

Yacine Djibo, Executive Director of Speak Up Africa

From launching the now Pan-African Zero Malaria Starts with Me movement in 2014, to spearheading the No to NTDs movement and mobilizing over 600 people including parliamentarians and community leaders.

“Speak Up Africa have made a demonstrable impact on sustainable development across the continent.”

Khalilou Fadiga, Itinerant Ambassador to the Republic of Senegal and Former International player of the national Team

For 10 years Speak Up Africa has been working to reform public health to improve the lives of millions across Africa, whilst amplifying African voices, leading social action, bolstering inclusive, gender sensitive policies and improving governance at both national, regional and global levels.

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