Stories of Capacity Development: Women’s Leadership in Senegal

June 20th, 2022 | Stories


To strengthen the presence of Senegalese women in community-level leadership roles and their voice in the media, World Education implemented the Women’s Leadership: Civic Leadership and Journalism project with local partner Association Rurale de Lutte Contre le SIDA (ARLS) from 2010 to 2017. Through the project, ARLS leveraged popular community radio to deliver messages about women’s rights, frequently feature women on radio programs, and build women’s skills as journalists/broadcasters. ARLS also ensured that women were appointed to leadership and community radio management positions. World Education provided capacity strengthening support to ARLS in its work to promote women’s leadership at the community level.

ARLS, a women’s organization in Senegal, was established in 1992 in response to the lack of opportunities for leadership, decision-making, and economic independence for women, and the absence of information on women’s rights, health, and education. We first began working with ARLS in 2005, as part of our effort to build the knowledge of local women’s associations to lead the fight against HIV. In 2006, ARLS created a radio community and a mutual savings and credit program for women.

When the Women’s Leadership project began in 2010, we provided technical assistance and strengthened the organizational capacity of ARLS to plan, implement, and monitor the project. We helped ARLS develop a strategic plan, procedures manual, and management tools to ensure good governance and transparent management of resources. We coached ARLS staff in project finance and accounting procedures, and ARLS expanded their team, hiring a program coordinator, administrative and financial managers, and a team leader. To regularly evaluate the performance of interventions, we also trained ARLS in using a rapid evaluation tool. With strong systems and well-trained staff, ARLS was better positioned to meet the needs of the women they served—and to attract funds from other donors.

World Education enabled ARLS to adopt the best practices and to be an organization with the required standards in terms of good governance and transparent management of resources.” – Marième Kairé, president of ARLS

Together, World Education and ARLS recruited and trained 85 women to become reporters for the community radio, and supported 100 women to be elected to local decision-making bodies, including municipalities, health management committees, parents’ associations, mothers’ associations, drilling management associations, and health insurance groups. Other women’s associations and community radio stations recognized the success of ARLS and sought to learn from their team. ARLS shared its experience and expertise with women’s associations and community radios during exchange visits it conducted throughout south, central, and north Senegal.

After the project wrapped up in 2017, ARLS was well-prepared to receive direct funding from USAID to continue the Women’s Leadership project with an added economic strengthening component. The follow-on project, which closed in January of 2022, provided 1,383 women with credit to start businesses, supported 310 families to set up poultry farming and market gardening, and coached 100 female leaders in 15 communities to prepare to run in local elections.

Women reporters at Gindiku are helping raise key issues like women’s access to land, parent’s participation at school and even how to stay healthy and safe during the pandemic.” – Marième Kairé.

Today, ARLS is a nationally and internationally recognized organization that continues to enhance the voices and rights of Senegalese women, and they look ahead to the work still to be done.

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