2013 Boston Pan African Forum

Fatou Sarr Sow keynote speaker

SarrFatou Sarr Sow, Sociologist and Director of the Gender Laboratory of IFAN in Dakar, Senegal, was the featured speaker at this year’s Boston Pan African Forum annual reception. The event took place at the University of Massachusetts – Boston campus on Friday, October 25, and was co-sponsored by the West African Research Association.

Mrs. Sarr’s address explored the tradition of women’s leadership in Africa. She argued that, rather than being a western import, women’s leadership has historically been an important feature of many African societies. Male-centered models of governance are largely an artifact of patriarchal models imposed by European powers in the colonial era.

This historical long view undergirds Ms. Sarr Sow’s advocacy for women’s participation in contemporary government. In addition to being an accomplished scholar, she is an active member of civil society and is well-known for her work in the fight for gender parity in the Senegalese national assembly. Gender parity, which is now a legal requirement in Senegal, mandates that women and men have an equal number of seats in the National Assembly. Her recent book, La 12e Législature au Sénégal: Les premières héritières de la loi sur la parité (The 12th Legislature of Senegal: The first heirs of gender parity), is a collection of profiles for each of each of the current women parliamentarians. The book, authored by Ms. Sarr Sow on behalf of the Women’s Caucus for Gender Parity in Senegal, was presented at WARC this past September.

Ms. Sarr Sow’s talk included a lively question and answer session and was followed by dinner with music and dancing.