Fellow Since 1995
This profile was prepared when Saidou Ouédraogo was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1995.
The New Idea
As in many other parts of the world, deep discrimination against girls in rural Burkina Faso begins early, in the home. Where there are scarce resources, girls generally receive less food, less health care, and fewer educational opportunities than boys. Saïdou Ouédraogo's far-reaching approach increases the numbers of girls attending and completing school, and helps them to acquire social status and business skills.Saïdou helps parents understand the causes and consequences of low school attendance of girls, and, more importantly, helps them jointly develop their own practical solutions to overcome the specific barriers that lead to non-attendance and early drop-out rates. Saïdou's "Mothers of Pupils Associations" (Associations Mères d'Elèves, or AMEs in French) work alongside the all-male Parent Associations, helping mothers to learn to manage their daughters' schooling.Saïdou is also helping the Association create a home environment conducive to girls' schooling and to start income-generation projects that can pay girls' school fees and raise money to improve the schools. Saïdou hopes to extend the reach of the Association directly to schools, where he hopes they will assist schools to incorporate hygiene, health, and environmentalism into the curriculum. Once women take on this leadership role in the schools, he believes that the experience will carry over both into the home and the wider society.