We met Adidjé Kerala, the very first woman at the head of the Stabilization Committee of Guitté, a locality in the conflict-hit Province of Lac, where UNDP implements a Stabilization Facility project. In a society where the recognition and enjoyment of women’s rights remains an arduous quest, she embodies the progress and hope of many women who also aspire to emancipation and equality.
In the rather conservative social context of Guitté, Adidjé sends out a strong message in support for women empowerment and the fight against gender-based violence and discrimination such as early marriage, female genital mutilation, or keeping girls away from education. She shared her story and experience with us:
“My name is Adidjé Kerala, I am the president of the Stabilization Committee of Guitté. This committee is made up of 20 people divided into four sub-committees. We meet every two weeks to discuss our difficulties and recommend solutions. Each meeting is an opportunity to pay your subscription, which allows us to replenish our fund, and therefore to help each other and also assist foreigners who arrive in our locality.
Our mission is to plan and implement all activities contributing to stability and living more harmoniously and peacefully together in our locality. I would like to point out that since the establishment of the committee, we have managed to resolve several problems between us and passing foreigners. We have also facilitated peaceful coexistence between the defense and security forces and the population, which has improved significantly compared to previous years. The principle of hospitality is at the heart of everything we do.”
My election at the head of the stabilization committee?
“It wasn’t easy at first, of course. There was a marked preference for a man to be appointed chair of the committee. What made a difference, and ultimately weighed in my favor, was the principle of consensus for decision-making put in place within the committee. The interim president himself pleaded in favor of my appointment and the other members followed him. It’s quite a rewarding role, because it’s essentially a team effort, and I am listened to and respected by everyone.”
My advice to women?
“I would advise my sisters and my daughters to move away from the sidelines where they were left in previous centuries, at a time when the place of women was conceived only in the kitchen or with children, that is to say, at home. Today we, women potentially have the freedom and the ability to do whatever men do. I have been a part of non-profit organizations for a long time, a world where women prove themselves every day. Fortunately, now, people around us understand more and more that we are essential partners in development. They provide us with their support, even if efforts still need to be made on this point. I urge women to get to work and assert themselves, just like men. If they are asked for a job, let them do it, without hesitation, and without any complex.