Niger women campaign for inclusion in National Assembly, 1991

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Timing
Time Period:  
Time period notes: 
Because the goals of the campaign were not very clearly met, the endpoint of the campaign is not entirely clear.
13 May
1991
to
July
1991
Location and Goals
Country: 
Niger
Location City/State/Province: 
Niamey
Goals: 
To gain more representation for women by having more female delegates in the National Conference and the Preparatory Committee to the National Conference.
 

The 1990s in Africa was a period of broad political movement towards the greater involvement of women in positions of power—this campaign is a part of that change.

In November of 1990 in Niger, President Ali Saibou announced that a Preparatory Committee to organize a National Conference would take place before May 27 of the following year, on which date the National Conference would begin. The agenda of this National Conference, to be held at the National Assembly building in Niger's capital city of Niamey, was to transition the country from 17 years of military-led rule to a multi-party democracy. Out of 68 delegates for the Preparatory Committee, one, Houa Alio, was a woman.

On May 11, 1991, the Prime Minister Aliou Mahamidou met with a number of interest groups that were involved with the Preparatory Committee. The meeting participants agreed on a structure of representation in which the Union of Niger Women would have seven representatives at the Preparatory Committee.

However, many Niger women did not accept this low level of representation and wanted a greater input in the future direction of the nation. The first, and most well known protest showing disapproval of the scarce representation of women in the Preparatory Committee took place on May 13, 1991, two weeks before the scheduled National Conference date. Several thousand women marched from the national assembly to the Prime Minister's office in the center of the capital, and occupied the Ministry of External Affairs, where the Preliminary Committee was meant to meet. The women carried signs that read, "Down with the National Conference without women!", "Stop Injustice!", and "Equal Rights!" They also shouted, "Away with the National Conference without Women!"

Alio resigned from the Preparatory Committee in solidarity. Acting as the spokesperson of the movement, she had earlier given the Prime Minister a nine-point letter demanding to have female representation in all of the delegations taking place during the Preparatory Committee.

Despite the May 13th protest, the Prime Minister began the first meeting of the Preparatory Committee at noon of the same day.

Six days later, on May 19, the General Assembly of Niger Women urged the people of Niger to become more involved in the political process by joining unions, associations, and political parties with the end goal of contributing to the National Conference's nation building process. The women organized a general assembly in order to begin compromising with members of the Preparatory Committee for greater representation in the soon-to-be-held National Conference.

As of May 21, the General Assembly of Niger Women agreed to allow four more women to join the representation. A political party also said it would replace one of its own representatives on the commission with a woman.

The date of the conference was postponed allegedly due to a lack of funds, although several political parties in opposition to the Prime Minister at the time saw this postponement as an attempt on his part to keep himself in power, and to slow transitional movements towards a multi-party democracy. The National Conference was rescheduled to take place on July 15, and then postponed again to July 29. Upon this second postponement, women marched again in opposition to their lack of equal representation in the Preparatory Committee and scheduled National Conference.

By the spring of 1991 the women of Niger were able to increase their numbers in the formal reform efforts, going from one to five women representatives. Still, that was vastly lower than participation by men

On November 25, 1992, May 13th was designated as "National Women's Day" to commemorate the march held on that date the previous year.

Research Notes
Influences: 

The campaign for further representation in the National Conference was prompted by the transition from militaristic rule over to democracy: there was already a national political change taking place. (1)

Sources: 
UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), UN Committee on the Elimination of Decripimination Against Women: Combined Initial & Second Periodic Reports of States Parties, Niger, 21 November 2005, CEDAW/C/NER/1-2, available at: [http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/decid/453778360.html] [accessed 23 February 2012]

Tripp, Mari Aili. "New Trends in Women's Political Participation in Africa". University of Wisconsin Madison, available at: [democracy.standford.edu/Seminar/AiliTripp.pdf] [accessed 25 February 2012]

"Niger." Africa News, AllAfrica, Inc. December 23,1991 / January 6, 1992. Accessed through LexisNexis Academic on February 26, 2012.

"Niger President and Prime Minister Address National Conference Closing Session." BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, British Broadcasting Corporation. November 7, 1991. Accessed through LexisNexis Academic on February 26, 2012.

"Niger President Saibou Addresses national Conference on First Day." BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, British Broadcasting Corporation. July 31, 1991. Accessed through LexisNexis Academic on February 26, 2012.

"Niger: National Meeting Set Again." Africa News, AllAfrica, Inc. July 29, 1991. Accessed through LexisNexis Academic on February 26, 2012.

"West Africa in Brief: Niger further details on national conference." BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, British Broadcasting Corporation. July 23, 1991. Accessed through LexisNexis Academic on February 26, 2012.

"Several thousand women demonstrated in the capital of Niger." BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, British Broadcasting Corporation. July 20, 1991. Accessed through LexisNexis Academic on February 26, 2012.

"Demands for National Conferences Mount." Africa News, AllAfrica, Inc. June 24, 1991. Accessed through LexisNexis Academic on February 26, 2012.

"West Africa in Brief; Niger women permitted four seats on national conference preparatory committee." BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, British Broadcasting Corporation. May 21, 1991. Accessed through LexisNexis Academic on February 26, 2012.

"West and Central Africa in Brief; Niger 'thousands' protest at exclusion of women from conference preparations." BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, British Broadcasting Corporation. May 15, 1991. Accessed through LexisNexis Academic on February 26, 2012.

"Central Africa in Brief; Niger agreement reached on national conference preparatory commission." BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, British Broadcasting Corporation. May 11, 1991. Accessed through LexisNexis Academic on February 26, 2012.

Additional Notes: 
This campaign in characterized by a lack of definite, commanding leadership on the part of the campaigners.
Name of researcher, and date dd/mm/yyyy: 
Pendle Marshall-Hallmark 27/02/2012