Opportunities for All: Improving Reproductive Health and Education for Women and Girls in the Sahel Region

November 4, 2015

Official Launch of the Regional Project

« Sahel Women Empowerment and Demographic Dividend »

Niamey, 4 November 2015. The “Sahel Women Empowerment and Demographic Dividend” Project was officially launched on 2 November 2015, under the patronage of His Excellency, Mr. Brigi Rafini, Prime Minister of the Republic of Niger at the Palais des Congrès in Niamey.

The Sahel Women Empowerment and Demographic Dividend Project is a partnership and joint response by the United Nations and the World Bank Group to a request from the Presidents of six countries of the Sahel -Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Chad.

As stated by Mr. Rafini, it is now time to act for the Sahel population and create more economic opportunities for women and girls and their families. "Beyond the speeches, there is a strong desire to move from words to action”, he said, “ensuring at the same time that this project will have positive results for the region”:

Several speakers including the ministers from Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and the representative of the Government of Cote d’Ivoire, all recognized the challenges facing the Sahel and how the rapid implementation of such a project could benefit people in the region.

“This is a strong signal to improve the health of mothers and children," said the Deputy Director General of the West African Health Organization (WAHO), Dr. Laurent Assogba.  

"The commitment of the government teams from the six countries involved in the Sahel Women’s Empowerment and Demographic Dividend Project is remarkable. They recognize that its success depends not only on the leadership of the
Ministries of Health and Population, but also the active involvement of Ministries of Education, Employment, Youth, Communication, Social affairs and the Promotion of women," said Soji Adeyi, Director, Health, Nutrition and Population Global Practice, World Bank. 

“The World Bank is proud to support this ambitious and unique multi-sectorial, multi-partner, regional approach to improve women and girls’ empowerment, and their access to health services. This will help create more economic opportunities and prosperity for women, girls and their families,” added Mr. Adeyi. 

The demographic dividend is the inclusive accelerated economic growth that may result when a country’s working age population grows larger than the non-working dependents. 

The Regional Director of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, for West and Central Africa, Mr. Mabingue Ngom, explained that the Fund “reiterates its appreciation and profound gratitude towards the Heads of State of the countries involved for their strong political commitment and therefore support for the implementation of this project which, no doubt, will contribute to improving the living conditions of women, children, youth and adolescents in the respective countries.”

Mr. Ngom said he was convinced that the project will contribute in an effective way “to implement the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development and especially the African Union 2063 Agenda, in line with the six goals of building a continent where the potential of women and young people is realized. We will achieve this through action, our collective action."

The launch was followed by the establishment of the project’s Steering Committee chaired by Niger. Over the next four days experts from the Sahel countries involved in the project will meet together with representatives from the WAHO, the World Bank and UNFPA to discuss the procedures and practical arrangements to begin immediate implementation of SWEDD.

Developed thanks to a partnership between the West African Health Organization (WAHO), the Permanent Inter-State Committee to Fight against Drought in the Sahel (CILSS) and the Centre for Applied Research on Population and Development (CERPOD), and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the project will be implemented with technical assistance from UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, and funding of 205 million USD from the World Bank over a 4-year period. The Project will be implemented across Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Chad.

Media Contacts
In Niger
Habibatou Gologo
Tel : + 221 77 740 09 56
In Washington, DC
Rachel Winter Jones
Tel : +1 202 458 4720 /+ 1 202 446 8196