An initiative to increase female leadership

August 29, 2019

Even today, very few political positions are held by women in Benin. 2016 figures for microfinance institutions show that only 18% of executive committees, and only 24% of committees were women.

That’s why this year the DID-led ADAPAMI support project for developing, professionalizing and revitalizing microfinance is providing comprehensive support for potential female candidates. Through this project, DID hopes to achieve its goal of increasing female leadership in the microfinance sector and promoting the participation of women in the political governance of microfinance institutions.

This project focused on 3 partner microfinance institutions that identified a total of 20 potential candidates to receive this support.

ADAPAMI’s strategy includes 10 steps:

  1. Identify potential candidates.
  2. Identify political coaches with relevant experience.
  3. Conduct a training workshop for political coaches.
  4. Conduct an education and information workshop for candidates.
  5. Deliver personalized coaching based on candidates’ profiles.
  6. Conduct awareness-building and advocacy activities involving husbands, if required.
  7. Conduct educational activities for voting members.
  8. Conduct advocacy activities among microfinance management staff in support of candidates.
  9. Follow-up activities and support calls, prior to elections.
  10. Provide governance training to newly elected women.

For one of the candidates, the support call from the coach the day before the election was particularly important; an elected official at the end of his term confronted her at home about her decision to stand for election. She recalled, “When he learned that I was running, he came to my home at 11 p.m. and said, ‘So you’re the one who wants to replace me?’ I responded that it was not about replacing him, but that I was interested in running. He said, ‘But you’re a woman!’” She won the election the next day.

During the first 2elections, 12 women supported by the ADAPAMI project were elected. According to political coach Taïbath, these results show that women have realized the possibilities open to them. “Women have the same abilities as men, but since they can be somewhat timid, they often underestimate themselves. They also feel, or rather tradition dictates, that women belong at home. That makes it less likely that a woman will seek a role outside the home. The ADAPAMI program is helping women learn about their strengths and their natural leadership abilities,” she said.

The third and final election will take place in November 2019.