Communication Campaign to encourage girls and women in the Sahel to join security, defense, and justice institutions

                    Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso billboard for the #WhyNotMe campaign

How do we address the challenges of self-censorship among women and girls wishing to pursue careers in security and justice in the Sahel?

"The #WhyNotMe campaign invites all of us - as parents, spouses, brothers, or teachers - to question our consciences, change our behaviors, and adopt an encouraging attitude towards women who wish to pursue their vocation in the justice and security sectors. I am convinced that the presence of female personnel at all levels of decision-making and responsibility in the security and justice professions is an essential condition for effective governance and ultimately for peace and sustainable development in the Sahel. (Amado de Andrés, 2022)   

Due to gender stereotypes and social norms embedded in society  and influencing perceptions and behaviors of women and those around them, women are the minority among the security and the justice officials in the Sahel. As a result, UNODC Sahel program is supporting Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania and Niger to develop #WhyNotMe communication campaign in line with UNODC’s gender equality and empowerment strategy (2022-2026)

In order to address this serious, divisive, and unequal issue, this campaign brings people together through humor and hope. It is based on an intersectional, inclusive, participatory, and youth-friendly approach. It invites people to deconstruct gender stereotypes and to rethink perceptions of the security and justice sectors as exclusively male. It specifically addresses the phenomenon of self-censorship by women by answering #WhyNotMe and highlights the key role played by the environment of girls and women in encouraging or discouraging their professional vocation.

In this context, humorous TV and radio spots as well as billboards will be widely broadcasted on the national territories in order to accompany the recruitment actions of female staff. In order to ensure a wide dissemination of the message, the communication products have been produced in many languages such as Haoussa, Djerma or Tamasheq in Niger or Mooré, Dioula, Fulfuldé or Gurmatcheman in Burkina Faso. The videos of the "Go for it" TV spots are available on YouTube

In Mauritania, the campaign has already raised awareness among 451 girls and boys, 90% of whom did not know that a woman could be a magistrate in Mauritania. At the end of the sensitization campaign, about 70% of the sensitized girls said they were "interested in becoming a police commissioner or a security officer".

"This is the first time we have seen an event that recognizes the role played by Mauritanian women in the security forces. This is the first time ever that we have been honored and recognized for our work. I am particularly proud. But there is still a lot to do. I have been in my current position for many years and have never been able to advance professionally. It is very difficult for women in the police force to advance and be promoted to higher positions. I am counting on this campaign to create the conditions for women's career development and the recruitment of more women. There is still a lot to be done," said Aichatou Diallo, police investigator, intelligence services, Mauritania.

Shooting of the video spot "Go for it" in Niger, Niamey, September 2021, as part of the #WhyNotMe campaign

In line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 5 "Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls" and SDG 16 "Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, ensure access to justice for all, and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels" of the United Nations Millennium Declaration, the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have been adopted.The #WhyNotMe campaign is also in line with UNODC's Strategic Vision for Africa 2030, which outlines how UNODC and Member States will strengthen Africa's responses to counter Drugs, Transnational Organized Crime, Terrorism, Corruption, illicit financial flows, and improve the rule of law and build resilience.

The #WhyNotMe campaign has been implemented in Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger since July 2021 as part of UNODC's Sahel Program, thanks to contributions from Denmark, Norway and the Peace Building Funds.

This initiative received the UNODC Gender Award 2022 from the UNODC Executive Director.

Contact : Cristina Iampieri, Sahel program Coordinator -