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February 05, 2012

Senegal’s Female Presidential Candidate Has Equality Agenda

by Ricci Shryock

As presidential hopefuls began campaigning for Senegal’s February 26 election, the sole female candidate, Amsatou Sow Sidibe, was touring the country’s coast shaking hands and speaking to the market women along the beaches of the country's capital.

"I’m with the women along the sea who sell the fish," she said from Dakar. "I’m doing a tour of the coast and talking to fishermen and those who sell the fish, because without them the country cannot properly feed itself."

Sidibe said that as the only female candidate, she would be a staunch advocate for women’s rights if she were to be elected, but most importantly she would strive for equality. “I will do a lot for women, because I know the importance of women in family and society in general. But I will not just be for women, I will also work for men and an equal society.”

Sidibe stressed the role that women must play in conflict resolution – and added that role must be made stronger. “In Africa most of all, women play an essential role in peacemaking and are the first victims of violence," she said. "They must be at the negotiation table."

She added womens’ health is a pressing issue, because if they are not healthy, they cannot work nor take care of their families.

Sidebe is one of 13 opposition figures facing current President Abdoulaye Wade in the West African country’s upcoming election. She has joined the other opposition candidates in denouncing the candidacy of Wade, who is running for his third term despite a constitutional two-term limit. Wade argued that the term-limits were introduced after he was already in office and so cannot be applied to him retroactively.

Riots in the normally peaceful capital erupted after Wade’s candidacy was declared legitimate last month.