Women call for peaceful elections in Senegal

22 Feb 2012

imageSenegalese and African women leaders in a recent meeting with the UN. They will speak out in favor of peace and dialogue ahead of the election of 26 February. Credit: Francis James/UNDP

Dakar, Senegal – To coincide with presidential polls, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is supporting women leaders in Senegal as they work with political parties and community groups to promote a peaceful election process.

In recent weeks, the traditionally peaceful country has witnessed unprecedented street demonstrations, with individuals losing their lives in election-related violence.

Bineta Diop heads the non-governmental organization Femmes Africa Solidarité, and is one of 50 nationally and internationally recognized Senegalese women who are working to encourage people to vote peacefully on 26 February.

“We must look beyond this polarized environment and work together to make sure all Senegalese can build a better future together,” says Bineta. “So we decided to do everything that is possible to help make these elections happen peacefully.”
 
Bineta and her colleagues are part of a network of 20 influential women’s groups –from the highest levels to the grassroots – who are setting up meetings among civil society organizations, encouraging them to call for calm. Within a few days, the groups are expected to bring together political parties so they can maintain a dialogue with one another.

On polling day, they will also serve as monitors, reporting possible incidents to a ‘situation room’ based in Dakar, also staffed by the women. The mechanism will alert the authorities if it identifies cases of violence.

UNDP is also funding and training the women as they carry out their reporting and mediation efforts.

“We must use women’s voices to lower tension and prevent conflict at all levels,” says Bintou Djibo, UNDP Resident Representative and UN Resident Coordinator in Senegal.  “Women have a proven record of sensitizing their communities against violence and promoting peaceful resolution of conflicts.”