Home RIGHTS The History of Women’s Associations in Niger

The History of Women’s Associations in Niger


The emergence of women’s movements is quite recent in Niger. Most women’s associations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) stem from the process of democratization which begun in the 1990s. But well before that date, some women’s movements already existed. The first groupings of women in Niger are the traditional mobilizations of women who were typically social and / or economic in character (community) and whose aim is solidarity, economic support, mutual aid and support to the community: Their actions remained at the community level.

We also note the presence of women (especially girls) in the groupings commonly called “samaria”. The samaria is a mixed association for the work of collective interests, the influence of culture and national unity.

It is important to emphasize that the first formal women’s movement in Niger was the U.F.N (Union of Women of Niger), created in 1962 by the DioriHamani regime. This organization later became the Association of Women of Niger (AFN) in 1975, with the advent of FAN (Nigerian Armed Forces). It was created by the government of Kountché in order to raise the standard of living of Nigerian women. And with the advent of democracy, women’s associations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have multiplied in Niger.

It should be noted that the date of 13 May 1991 marked the beginning of the struggle for the emancipation of women in Niger when women organized the grand march for equal rights and their weak representation (a single woman out of 68 members) in the preparatory committee of the national conference. At the end of this historic march, they were able to increase the number of women in the Commission from 1 to 5 and on 25 November 1992.  May 13 was declared the Niger Women’s Day by Decree No. 92/370 / PM / MDS / P / PE of 25/11/92.

The decade 1990-2000 was marked by the structuring of the women’s associations, notably with the creation of networks and collectives such as: the general confederation of women’s associations in Niger (CONGAFEN in 1995) created by associations working in similar fields or related to work to make their actions more effective.

This development is explained not only by the advent of democracy in Niger, but also by the existence of a legal framework favorable to associative life.

– Recognition of freedom of association

– A Constitution born of the democratic context

– Law No. 84 of 1 March 1984 governing associations in Niger and its amending texts. This law enshrines freedom of association in Niger (no discrimination between men and women). There is no restriction on freedom of association apart from the prohibitions on ethnic or regionalist associations.

-International legal instruments relating to human rights: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1976

The evolution of the women’s associative movement is also explained by the media and new information and communication technologies (ICT) echoes of women’s struggles in other countries or continents.

It is important to note that women are members of women’s associations (created by themselves) and mixed associations created by men and women. The fields of intervention of these structures are diverse:

– defense and promotion of the rights of women

– defense and promotion of human rights

– preservation of the environment

– fight against corruption

– peace, security

– violence against women and children

– negative cultural practices

– budgetary transparency

– transparency in the extractive industries

– education, health

– NGOs and development associations

It can be deduced that Nigerian women are present in associations that intervene in almost all fields. They are increasingly strongly involved in the community life of the country. Women are therefore the real actors of civil society in Niger.




Photo/care.org:CARE President and CEO Michelle Nunn greets members of the original CARE village savings and loan groups that CARE pioneered in Niger in 1991.