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Research Report

Building Peace and Development in the Sahel:: Enhancing the Political Participation of Women and Youth

Copyright Date: Jan. 1, 2015
Pages: 28

Table of Contents

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  1. (pp. [i]-[i])
  2. (pp. [ii]-[iii])
  3. (pp. 1-2)
  4. (pp. 2-3)

    Insecurity in the Sahel is compounded by a persistent socioeconomic crisis. The people of the Sahel, who have been affected by recurring rebellions, inflows of weapons following the Libyan revolution in 2011, and increasing drug trafficking and violent extremism, also endure chronic underdevelopment, recurrent food insecurity, hazardous weather, and new threats posed by undocumented and increasingly perilous migration to Europe. Moreover, the disconnect between the citizenry and a distant and, at times, predatory ruling elite is further weakening the social fabric and hindering sustainable peacebuilding and development efforts across the region. This situation is reflected in the endemic political and...

  5. (pp. 3-8)

    The breakdown of trust between elected leaders and citizens that pervades state-society relationships across the world has resulted in the rejection of politics by a number of citizens. This is especially true of youth in the Sahel region, where politics is widely perceived as a corrupt activity and, in some cases, as a means to quick enrichment. At the same time, in most countries across the Sahel, years of poor governance and an absence of the rule of law have led to a blurring of the lines between the entity of the state and the government that runs it. As...

  6. (pp. 8-14)

    Given their political marginalization, women have developed alternative strategies to maximize their participation by turning to civil society movements, and they are actively involved in associations dealing with issues such as education, health, and development. These experiences serve as a useful springboard for the greater involvement of women in politics.

    In Niger, though less visible than men, women have a long track record of public participation and have found innovative ways of carving out space to participate in the political discourse. Traditionally, first ladies and other women related to political leaders have played influential roles as counselors, educators, and defenders...

  7. (pp. 14-21)

    For greater political participation by women and youth, the challenges posed by exclusive and unaccountable governance must be overcome and strategies that promote people-centered governance need to be developed. There are seven areas of focus that could prove fruitful in this respect: (1) bridging the gap between governance norms and policies and their implementation; (2) building the capacity of women and youth to participate meaningfully in political life; (3) strengthening existing movements that empower women and youth; (4) reducing poverty by facilitating access to basic social services and widening the space for the private sector; (5) multisectoral and media initiatives...

  8. (pp. 21-23)

    The various and multilayered factors that combine to limit or prevent the effective involvement of women and youth from countries in the Sahel-Sahara region to national and regional political processes are yet to be addressed. For the youth, these factors add to the specific challenges that relate to growing security threats linked to radicalization and violent extremism in the region. While both women and youth groups have developed strategies that advance their political participation, more efforts are needed to make this participation sustainable and ensure their contribution to ongoing initiatives to promote peace, security, and development across the region.


  9. (pp. 24-24)