Changing gender roles in Mali is good for the environment:

Although women in Mali are the main providers and users of environmental resources, women are not very present in local decision-making bodies: “In some places, it is the village elders who decide and women are often not mentioned”, says Rokiatou Sylla Ouatarra, project coordinator in SustainableEnergy’s Malian partner, MFC Nyetaa. This major obstacle for environmental protection is the focus for the project ‘Gender and Leadership’ where 15 women and 15 youth (women as well as men) have learned new skills in conflict management, local economic development and community management.

MFC hopes that the project will result in the participation of more women and youth in local governing bodies in three rural municipalities where MFC works. Traditional leaders continue to hold much power and so far, the reception of the project has been mixed: “Some men are still reluctant to give more power to women while others encourage them” Rokiatou explains. Gender roles are changing in Mali. Occupations that were traditionally male dominated, for example mechanics, electricians and occupations in the military, are now increasingly being performed by women. This gives hope for women empowerment in environmental protection as well.

The first phase of the Gender and Leadership-project will end in 2015 where lessons will be drawn and included in a general gender-strategy in MFC.