News / Africa

Ivorian Women Urged to Vote Sunday

Diawara Aissata displays her newly-acquired national identity card and voter ID in the Plateau neighborhood of Abidjan, Ivory Coast (File)
Diawara Aissata displays her newly-acquired national identity card and voter ID in the Plateau neighborhood of Abidjan, Ivory Coast (File)

For the first time in Ivory Coast, women voters outnumber men.  Political parties and election authorities are working to make sure those women go to the polls Sunday for the country's long-delayed presidential election.

Women represent more than 60 percent of registered voters in Ivory Coast and are increasingly a force to be reckoned with in the country's politics.

It is a trend that has not been lost on the country's 14 presidential hopefuls.  Many have promised reforms attractive to women, including laws that would guarantee them one-third of decision-making posts in government.

With just four days to go before the poll, women supporters of current president and candidate, Laurent Gbagbo, hit the streets of Abidjan to drum up support among women voters.

Head of the group, Women for Laurent Gbagbo, Genevieve Bro-Grebe, says they have been all over the country to sell their product, their candidate.  She says they have met with nurses, midwives, teachers, recently naturalized citizens, hairstylists and make-up artists.

She says 70 percent of women in Ivory Coast are illiterate.  It is difficult for them to vote, she says, so this week, they are going door-to-door to show them how to cast their ballot.

Reading and writing are not the only barriers for female voters.

Marie Paule Kodjo runs the Ivorian nonprofit, the Women's Committee for Elections and Reconstruction, which was instrumental in helping women register to vote nationwide.  She says stereotypes and poverty play a role.

Kodjo says women have been told that it is their father or husband who will tell them who to vote for.  She says they have been working so women understand that voting is a personal choice and that they should choose a candidate not based on family, gender or ethnicity, but on his or her program.  Some women, she says, especially outside Abidjan, do not have the money to vote or to pick up identity and voter cards.  She says some women in areas affected by the war are scared to vote because men have threatened them if they do not vote for a certain candidate.

The committee's educators have also been touring Abidjan's markets.  It is a non-partisan effort aimed at making sure women's votes are not thrown out for technical reasons.

For example, at this market in the low-income neighborhood of Wassaka, educators are teaching female street vendors how to properly fold the ballot after marking their candidate so the ink will not smudge into multiple boxes, rendering the vote invalid.

But educators say the effort is also about giving women confidence, a first step to one day getting more women in local and legislative offices that they say are still dominated by men.

The leader of Wassaka's market women, Natogoman Coulibaly, says life has gotten more difficult, especially for the poor, and it is time for women's voices to be heard.

She says they showed her how to vote and she is happy.  She says she did not plan to vote, but now she is working with them to encourage other women.

The presidential election is meant to end nearly a decade of political crisis after a 2002-2003 civil war.

Kodjo says the political situation for women is changing, largely because of the crisis Ivory Coast has experienced during which women suffered enormously.  She says they lost their husbands and their children.  She says they have been raped and attacked.  Now, she says, women are saying, "enough," that it is time to be brave and get out in front.

At the polls Sunday, Ivorians will even be able to vote for the country's first female presidential candidate, Jacqueline Oble.

But no matter who wins, political activists say women are set to play a strong political role in the rebuilding of Ivory Coast.

You May Like

China’s Influence Grows With New Infrastructure Bank

Multibillion-dollar China-backed and BRICS-supported Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank seen as possible challenger to such lenders as IMF, World Bank More

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

Rabbi Michel Serfaty makes the rounds in his friendship bus to encourage dialogue and break down barriers between the two groups More

Post-deal Iran Leaders Need 'Economic Momentum' to Solidify

Economists say deal could inject more than $100 billion into coffers - not enough to entirely rescue ailing economy - but maybe adequate to create 'economic momentum' More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impacti
X
Michael Bowman
June 28, 2015 10:05 PM
Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Chemical-Sniffing Technology Fights Australia's Graffiti Vandals

Cities and towns all over the world spend huge amounts of resources battling graffiti writers who deface buildings, public transport vehicles and even monuments. Authorities in Sydney, Australia, hope a new chemical-sniffing technology finally will stop vandals from scribbling on walls in the passenger areas of commuter trains. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Cambodia Struggling to Curb Child Labor

Earlier this year a United Nations report found 10 percent of Cambodian children aged 7-14 are working – one of the highest rates in the region – and said one in four children in that age bracket are forced to quit school to help their families. Although the child labor rate has dropped over the past decade, Cambodia has a lot more to do – including keeping more children in school. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.

VOA Blogs