What we do
Democratic institutions can be strong and multi-party systems well-established, but when the security situation is fragile, democracy comes under threat. In Burkina Faso, a wave of terrorist attacks have closed schools, caused mass displacements, and cost the lives of thousands of people. This has led to dissent and division, and growing protest movements.
Forging a political career in such an atmosphere can be fraught with difficulties, especially for people with limited resources and access to traditional power structures. NIMD’s work in Burkina Faso, which began in 2020, addresses those barriers and helps a new generation of female and male leaders acquire the skills needed to navigate the complicated political landscape.
Drawing on our experience in other fragile and conflict-afflicted settings, NIMD offers training and networking opportunities to allow everyone to fulfil their potential.
One of the biggest challenges to women’s participation is accessing the power structures and networks needed to get a foot on the political ladder. Finding mentors and seeing how people in similar situations have overcome barriers is a great motivator, and NIMD works with blogging platform Association des Blogueurs du Burkina to hold regular panel discussions bringing together young women and established female politicians so they can share knowledge and inspire one another.
Understanding the barriers to women’s participation is also crucial, and in 2021, NIMD teamed up with the Westminster Foundation of Democracy and the Alliance for Rebuilding Governance in Africa to produce a report on the Cost of Politics in Burkina Faso. The report showed that many women are excluded from entering and participating in politics because they cannot afford it. The report offered recommendations for policy makers and has been critical in raising awareness of the issue.
Burkina Faso opened its first Democracy School in 2021, bringing together young and promising politicians and civil society representatives to gain democratic knowledge and skills. Through the focus on group activities, the participants shared experiences and started to build a network. NIMD hopes this network will expand and thrive in coming years, and hosts regular “Cafés Politiques”, informal meetings between alumni, to ensure that exchange of knowledge and skills continues.
By keeping track of alumni’s progress and the barriers they face, NIMD can also better respond their long-term needs, as we continue to strengthen the curriculum.