Unexpected gems

The fun part of going to fieldwork, among discovering and re-discovering local culinary delicacies, is coming across ‘data’ in ways that you had not even imagined. This is even sweeter in a country like Senegal, where documents and archives are sometimes hard to come across.

In Senegal, you have street / corner shops, teeny tiny spots at every neighborhood or street corner - in Nouadhibou (Mauritania), these shops were often arranged in an empty ship container too. They are called ‘boutiques’, and no, this term does not refer to the fancy high-end shops you may find on Fifth Avenue or strolling along the Champs-Elysées in Paris. You can find any daily amenities in those ‘boutiques’, ranging from the daily baguette (fresh from the bakery/bread factory) to powder laundry detergent contained in small plastic bags. When you buy your bread, the owners will wrap it up in some sort of paper. Often times it is a page off a newspaper, a magazine, but you can also find old receipts or some seemingly document.

Imagine my surprise when I found this at my breakfast one morning in Saint-Louis!

This is a list of candidates by one of the political parties, Bunt-Bi, for the legislative elections of July 2017, and you can see the names of the candidates are composed of men and women, alternatively. Gender parity in action, ladies and gentlemen!

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Gender Parity Law in Senegal

The main focus of my research resides in understanding and analyzing the gender parity law in Senegal. The official name in French is "Loi de la Parité Absolue" (LPA), which translates, quite easily, into "Law of Absolute Parity". 

This law was voted in May 2010 and mandates ALL political parties participating and nominating candidates for legislative and local elections to present a list comprised of 50% women and 50% men. The list is to have the women and men candidates alternatively, so that, if example, a party wins 5 seats at the National Assembly, at least 2 seats will go to women. 

The law was first put into action for the legislative and local elections of 2012 - and the Senegalese national assembly saw a substantive increase of women, from 20% in 2007, to 42% in 2012. This achievement on its own has been highly acclaimed by many, mostly the Senegalese women's organizations and NGOs involved in this issue. My research looks into the details of this representation (whether women are actually more involved in decision-making processes, for instance). 

The latest elections were held in July 2017. I missed them because I didn't prepare my field trip to coincide with the campaigns, but they evidently would have been very interesting. However, in September, I was still able to find some remnants of the campaigns, as shown in these pictures.