Tuesday 27.03.12

Try making a difference, when you do not exist!

The women in developing countries’ committees fight for women’s rights in Mali.

By: Martha Louise Madsen

The medical card exists, but you cannot have one because you have no money to pay for it. Your personal identification number does not apply, and you cannot go to school, you do not get a polling card, you cannot get a bank account or a job, and you cannot get married. You do not exist.

That is how most of the girls and women in Mali live. The official papers – birth certificate, marriage certificate and identification card – cost money, and the girls have to be married into another family. So if the poor families find the money for the papers, their sons get them.

Mali is the fourth most impoverished country, and in order to change that it requires the help of half the population – the women. They are almost all placed outside of any influence. They cannot go to school or vote, they cannot give their children a better future – without a marriage certificate the children do not exist either – and if a husband does not want his wife anymore, he can put her on the street and forget her.

The Danish NGO KULU - Women and Development are working with the women’s organisation FEMNET-Mali on the women’s rights campaign ‘Giv en pige ret’. For the money raised, FEMNET-Mali will buy papers that they hand out to the girls and women at big festive events.

- FEMNET-Mali tells us that getting access to rights through identity papers gives the girls and women self-esteem and the tools to fight for their rights. I have witnessed that myself on my visits in Mali. The collaboration is very important and necessary, particularly now that there is a fight to maintain women’s rights in Mali, says KULU’s chairwoman Janice G. Førde.

Roskilde Festival has donated DKK 30,000 of 2011’s profit to KULU’s work.

Identity papers give Malian girls self-esteem. Photo: Kulu

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