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

    US Leaders Who Served in Vietnam War Look Back and Ahead

    In New York Times opinion piece, Secretary of State John Kerry, Senator John McCain and former Senator Bob Kerrey say as US strengthens relations with Vietnam, it is important to remember lessons learned from war

    Who Are US Allies in Fight Against Islamic State?

    There is little but opportunism keeping coalition together analysts warn — SDFs Arab militias are not united even among themselves, frequently squabble and don’t share Kurds' vision for post-Assad Syria

    Learning Foreign Language Helps US Soldiers Bridge Culture Gap

    Effective interaction with local populations part of everyday curriculum at Monterey, California, Defense Language Institute

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora