Women have acquired various rights in West Africa, varying from country to country: equal political representation in Senegal (2010); laws criminalising FGM Where ? (1999); inheritance of nationality (Senegal). But many rights are still not legally guaranteed, such as access to land in Senegal, Mali, Niger, and Cote d’Ivoire. Many existing laws are not implemented, and behaviour continues to be shaped by traditions that legitimise gender inequality.


Recent trends in West Africa do not seem to be moving towards greater equality and rights for women. It is women who pay the greatest price for new or renewed human rights violations and the retreat of good governance and the rule of law in some countries.


Terrorism: Women are victims, and sometimes instruments (Northern Nigeria, South-east Niger)

Conflicts: Whichever side they are on, women are the first victims, and transitional justice processes (Mali, Cote d’Ivoire, Sierra Leone, Liberia) do not make any gender-specific provision for them

Civil rights: Strong currents of religious fundamentalism obstruct the promotion and application of civil rights for women (for example, the Family Code in Mali, early marriage in Niger)

Political rights: Women occupy only between 12% and 30% of elected posts 

Economic rights: Women’s income is on average 20% less than men’s. In areas where land has been taken over by national or international commercial enterprises, rural women are the first to lose. In the formal sector, women’s income is sometimes only 50% of men’s. In general, laws guaranteeing women’s right to own and manage their assets are weak or non-existent.


The promotion of women’s rights, and the fight against discrimination and prejudice, are high priorities for PIWA, in a context where human rights seem to be more and more at the heart of clashes of opinions. PIWA contributes to strengthening the capacities of actors for social change to promote social justice for women and defend their rights.

PIWA develops specific projects dedicated to women’s rights and gender equality. In addition, all its projects on other themes take gender aspects into account, and over all its projects, PIWA aims that 40-50% of the beneficiaries should be women.