Exploring the virtuous cycle of female literacy in Burkina Faso

At Aide et Action we don’t just help people. We also accompany them over the long term to promote their empowerment! In Burkina Faso, we work with Fondation L’Occitane to strengthen female empowerment in rural areas. We have set up literacy centres and are now encouraging women to develop income-generating activities and aim towards long-term sustainability.

Fostering female literacy…

For many years now, the Burkinabe government has made female literacy one of the top priorities on its development agenda. It recently adopted the National Gender Policy, whose vision is to build « a society rid of all forms of inequality between the sexes, which ensures essential safety nets for the social, cultural, political and economic well-being of citizens. »

Within this framework, Aide et Action and Fondation L’Occitane, who can rely on years of experience in promoting female leadership, have set up literacy centres catering to women in the Centre-West region of Burkina Faso.

Early on, the project team hit upon the realisation that raising funds was key to ensuring the sustainability of the centres. The literacy rate among women will continue going up only if the community can take full control of the centres and fund them through its own means.

… while supporting vocational training and empowerment

It’s in this context that we and Fondation l’Occitane launched the project « Learning to Change » back in 2015. In addition to literacy classes, motivated women can benefit from a vocational training programme which prepares them for income-generating activities. Part of the returns will be used to finance the centres, while the other part will accrue directly to the women and their families.

A local market survey showed that apiculture and the commercialisation of parboiled rice were the two most promising IGA candidates – both in terms of feasibility and profitability – to guarantee a decent salary to literacy teachers and the year-to-year renewal of teaching and learning materials.

As we are collaborating with the community and Fondation l’Occitane to validate this innovative sustainability model for scale-up and replication, it’s heartening to witness this virtuous cycle of female literacy and empowerment coming to the fore.

This entry is based on an article published on website of Aide et Action France. For more information on our project for rural women in Burkina Faso, click here.