Fellow Since 1992
APROFES - Association pour la Promotion de la Femme Sénégala
This profile was prepared when Binta Sarr was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1992.
The New Idea
Five years ago Binta founded APROFES, The Association for the Advancement of Senegalese Women. Binta's grassroots movement prepares women to assume positions of leadership throughout Senegal. Using a cadre of village women and a range of programs from small-scale credit to popular theater, Binta's group provides essential services, innovative education, and empowering activities. APROFES grew out of a concern over the poor economic condition of women, but Binta quickly realized that women cannot be in charge of their own economic activity without first achieving a basic level of self-awareness, an understanding of their own situation and potential. Thus leadership training is at the core of Binta's approach. Binta and her team carefully study local decision-making structures, and help women integrate with them. This begins at the village group, progressing to the level of decision-making far beyond the village. These direct efforts with marginalized women are complemented by broader public education campaigns that seek to change the attitudes of men and women alike, and Binta says that "it is at this level only that we can create long-term change."