Voix EssentiELLES initiative launched to elevate women and girls’ voices for health

Press Release • 01 July 2021

Women and girls’ (in all their diversity) community-based organizations in Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal invited to apply for support through new dedicated fund 

Today, Senegalese advocacy action tank Speak Up Africa, in partnership with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and Fondation CHANEL, launched the Voix EssentiELLES initiative that aims to elevate women and girls’ voices, by meaningfully engaging them in decision-making processes and spaces that influence health policies and programs.

Launched on the sidelines of the Generation Equality Forum, a UN global gathering for gender equality taking place this week, Voix EssentiELLES seeks to enable the significant participation of women and girls’ community-based and grassroot organizations, networks, and leaders in decision-making platforms. With applications now open and support available to 50 organizations, the project will strengthen their competencies and skills to influence policies and programs that affect their health and well-being. 

Women and girls’ community-based organizations and networks in Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal are invited to apply for support through a dedicated fund, with plans to expand to additional countries in Central and Western Africa over the next three years. Each organization can apply for a grant of up to XOF 5 million (US$10,000) to enable them to participate in and inform health programs and policies in their countries. 

Through the Initiative, successful organizations will be offered a personalized training program that will allow women and girls’ community-based organizations across Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal to reinforce their organizational, leadership, advocacy and communications skills. Training modules, tailored to the needs of the selected organizations based on a capacity assessment as well as each country’s national context, will be dispensed through the University of Excellence in the three countries.

Women and girls continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV, TB and malaria and the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to reverse our hard-won gains and progress towards gender equality

said Caty Fall Sow, Regional Manager of West and Central Africa of the Global Fund.

The Global Fund is honoured to be part of Voix EssentiELLES to continue unleashing women and girls’ voices and to support their meaningful engagement in the development of health policies that affect their health and well-being.

Despite progress, the world is far from reaching gender equality, and it has been estimated that women will not achieve pay or leadership equality with men for at least another 135.6 years. Yet, gender equality is critical to the rebuilding of more sustainable economies, societies, and political ecosystems. 

Sustainable development in Africa will not become a reality without the active participation of women and girls. It is crucial to have initiatives such as Voix EssentiELLES, which aim to provide a rallying point for civil society organizations and unite energies in an endogenous dynamic of reflection based on the different experiences of women at the micro and/or local level. 

stated Prof. Ndioro Ndiaye, Coordinator of the Network for Gender Equality at the International Organization of La Francophonie and former Minister of Women and Familly Affairs of Senegal

Coupled with the University of ExcELLEnce, Speak Up Africa will organize advocacy meetings in each country with key stakeholders and selected women and girls’ organizations, to maximize their inclusion into national coalitions and decision-making spaces and processes in their respective countries. 

As an African, women-led organization, we feel passionately about the issues that Voix EssentiELLES seeks to address, which is why we are delighted to manage this important project. It is critical that women and girls take ownership of their health and are empowered to play their part in the decision-making spaces, so that they can develop policies that work for them and future generations. We look forward to working with community-based organizations across Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal, and I hope that many take advantage of this game-changing opportunity and submit their applications now

concluded Yacine Djibo, Executive Director of Speak Up Africa.

To mark the launch of this transformative Initiative and Fund, Speak Up Africa organized an intergenerational and cross-sectoral panel, featuring a keynote speech from Professor Ndioro Ndiaye, Former Minister of Women and Family Affairs of Senegal and Coordinator of the Francophone Network for Gender Equality at the International Organization of La Francophonie. The panel convened speakers including:

  • Fatou Diallo, National President of Bajenou Gox
  • Nogaye Sow, Bajenou Gox of Thienaba, President of the Thienaba Health Mutual
  • El Hadj Diop, President of AISM Thienaba and Vice-Chair, Global Fund Country Coordination Mechanism
  • Marieme Soda Ndiaye, the youngest Senegalese Member of Parliament  
  • Sylvie Diack, Radio Host 

Civil society organizations are critical for representing and elevating the voices of the people. Projects such as Voix EssentiELLES will go a long way in supporting women and girls in local communities, ensuring they have due influence in wider health policies and programs

said Nogaye Sow, Neighborhood Godmother, Thienaba, Senegal.

As part of the launch of the Voix EssentiELLES project, community dialogues will be held in Thienaba, Senegal, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso and Dabou, Cote d’Ivoire. These conversations will enable us to further engage with the communities and gather feedback on the Voix EssentiELLES Initiative and how it can better engage and serve communities.

Voix EssentiELLES directly supports Sustainable Development Goal 5 and the Generation Equality Forum Action Coalition’s commitment on Feminist Movements & Leadership, which seeks to increase the meaningful participation, leadership, and decision-making power of girl, women and feminist leaders, including those who are trans, intersex and non-binary by 2026. 

For more information on how to apply to Voix EssentiELLES, visit the website www.voixessentielles.org or contact us by WhatsApp at +221 77 187 76 94.  

Notes to Editors 

About Speak Up Africa

Headquartered in Dakar, Senegal, Speak Up Africa is a policy and advocacy action tank dedicated to catalyzing leadership, enabling policy change, and increasing awareness for sustainable development in Africa. With ensuring health and well-being of all at our core, we support SDGs 1 to 6 in transforming societies throughout Africa and making sure every man, woman, and child is empowered to live a long and healthy life. Through our platforms and relationships and with the help of our partners, we ensure that policy makers meet implementers; that solutions are showcased and that every sector – from individual citizens and civil society groups to global donors and business leaders – contributes critically to the dialogue and strives to form the blueprints for concrete action for public health and sustainable development. 

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About The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria

The Global Fund is a partnership designed to accelerate the end of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria as epidemics. As an international organization, the Global Fund mobilizes and invests more than US$4 billion a year to support programs run by local experts in more than 100 countries. In partnership with governments, civil society, technical agencies, the private sector and people affected by the diseases, the Global Fund challenges barriers and embraces innovation. Addressing gender and human rights barriers is one of Global Fund’s strategic priorities; with meaningful community engagement at the core of its strategy and related processes.  More information can be found here: www.theglobalfund.org

About Fondation CHANEL

Since 2011, Fondation CHANEL supports projects on all continents with financial, human and technical means, giving priority to stable countries. It commits to long term partnerships that promote scaling up, social innovation, and quality interventions. By opening new ways of empowering women and of conceiving gender equality, it adapts its solutions individually and promotes personalized support.More information can be found here: www.fondationchanel.org

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