News / Africa

Women's Vote Important Factor in Ivory Coast Elections

Educators teach female street vendors how to properly fold a ballot after marking their candidate so the ink will not smudge into multiple boxes, rendering the vote invalid
Educators teach female street vendors how to properly fold a ballot after marking their candidate so the ink will not smudge into multiple boxes, rendering the vote invalid

Multimedia

Anne Look


Women represent more than 60 percent of the registered voters in Abidjan, Ivory Coast's largest city. They 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 presidential hopefuls, including the two remaining candidates, President Laurent Gbagbo and former prime minister, Alassane Ouattara, who will face off in a second round on November 28.

Just four days before the first round of polling, female supporters of President Gbagbo hit the streets of Abidjan, led by the group's president, Genevieve Bro-Grebe.

"We have been all over the country," said Bro-Grebe.  "We have met with everyone to sell our product, our candidate.  We are showing women how to vote. In Ivory Coast.  Seventy percent of women are illiterate.  It is difficult for them to vote, so we are going door-to-door to show them how."

Reading and writing are not the only barriers for female voters. Marie Paule Kodjo runs an Ivorian nonprofit, the Women's Committee for Elections and Reconstruction, which was instrumental in helping women register to vote nationwide.

"Women have been told that it is their father or husband who will tell them who to vote for," said Kodjo.  " We 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, especially outside Abidjan, do not have the money to vote or to spend time picking up identity and voter cards.  It is an obstacle.  In certain areas affected by the war, some women are scared to vote.  Men have threatened them if they do not vote for a certain candidate."

Since before the first round of polling on October 31, the committee's educators toured Abidjan's markets -- among them one in the low-income neighborhood of Wassaka -- to show women how to cast their ballots. It is a non-partisan effort aimed at making sure their votes are not thrown out for technical reasons.

For example, 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, which is going on nationwide, 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.

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

"They showed me how to vote and I am happy. I did not plan to vote, but now I am working with them to encourage other women," said Coulibaly.

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

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

The initial round of polling on October 31 even saw Ivory Coast's first female presidential candidate, Jacqueline Oble, place eighth out of 14 candidates, though she won less than one percent of the vote.  No matter who wins the November 28 runoff, political activists say women are set to play a strong political role in the rebuilding of Ivory Coast.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

US Urges Restraint in Hong Kong Protests

Protesters angered by Beijing's decision to only approve candidates that it sanctions for Hong Kong's leadership elections in 2017 More

Archive of Forgotten UCLA Speeches Offers Snapshot of History

Recordings of prominent voices in social change, politics, science and literature from 1960s, early 1970s now available on YouTube 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.
Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenyai
X
Gabe Joselow
September 29, 2014 6:20 PM
Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Video

Video Reconstruction? What Reconstruction? Life After War in Gaza

It’s been a month since Israel and the Palestinians agreed to a ceasefire to end 52 days of an air and tank war that left 60,000 homes in Gaza damaged or destroyed and 110,000 homeless. Sharon Behn reports that lack of reconstruction is leading to despair.
Video

Video US, Saudi Arabia and UAE Hit Islamic State's Oil Revenue

The United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have bombed oil facilities operated by Islamic State militants in Syria. It was a truly collaborative effort, with the two Arab countries dropping the majority of the bombs. The 12 refineries targeted were estimated to generate as much as $2 million per day for the terrorist group. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb has the story.
Video

Video Russia's Food Sanctions Raise Price Worries, Hopes for Domestic Production

Russia retaliated against Western sanctions imposed for its actions in Ukraine by halting food imports from the West. The temporary import ban on food from Australia, the European Union, Norway and North America has Russian consumers concerned that they could face a sharp increase in food prices. But in an ironic twist, the restrictions aimed at the Kremlin have made Russia's domestic food producers hopeful this can boost their business. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Washington to Pyongyang: 'Shut This Evil System Down'

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on North Korea to shut down prison camps and other human rights abuses following a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into "widespread and systematic human rights violations." VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid