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The Women’s project makes headway in the West African countries

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National co-ordinators of the IUF Women’s project in French speaking West Africa met in Dakar, Senegal, from 6 to 10 December to evaluate the 2010 results and plan for activities in 2011.

They were accompanied in their discussions by the regional project co-ordinator, Adwoa Sakyi, and the sub-regional women’s co-ordinator, Assétou Soumaré.

Participants welcomed the efforts made by the co-ordination committees in Benin and Niger in promoting the ratification of Convention 183 on Maternity protection. In the two countries, the ratification process is well advanced. In Burkina, where the government authorized the ratification in 2009, the application of the final decree is expected shortly.
In Mali, the first African country to ratify the Convention (in 2008), the co-ordinating committee monitors the implementation and is informing women, particularly in rural areas, about their new rights.

In collaboration with the sub-regional IUF/ILO H&S programme, a special training module for Women’s H&S has been elaborated. Following the first courses that started in Burkina Faso, Benin, Ivory Coast and Niger, there are now women H&S focal points, women integrated in the Safety Committees, and establishment of new Safety Committees.
According to a report from Burkina Faso, the H&S training has given concrete results for pregnant women workers in the agricultural sector, such as:
 They are no longer obliged to travel long distances and/or on motorbikes
 They shall have adequate protective equipment if in contact with pesticides and have the possibility to change jobs

The H&S training program for women was presented by the co-ordinator from Burkina Faso, Assétou Traoré, at the African forum for prevention of professional risks (SAPRIP) that took place on November 8-11, 2010, in Niamey, Niger.
Her presentation as well as the others made by the IUF delegation attracted a lot of interest among SAPRIP participants.

The recruitment and organizing efforts have continued in all the countries concerned.
On an average, each co-ordinating committee enrolled 150 new women members. In the Ivory Coast, six new women’s committees were formed in the agricultural sector and in tuna fish canning factories. In Niger, five locals in the informal economy were established in the urban surroundings of Niamey.

Furthermore, the first sub-regional meeting for domestic workers took place in Benin in August 2010. This meeting contributed to the integration of French speaking countries in West Africa to the regional domestic workers’ network.