This Monday, March 8 is International Women’s Day, and here at CREATE! we’re celebrating the powerful women in our international community who are working together to make our world a better place from the village level. The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is Choose to Challenge. As described on the IDW site, we can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world. From challenge comes change, and we are honored to know a great number of women in our partner communities in rural Senegal who are uplifting each other and creating lasting change in their communities.

Women Who Are Meeting the Challenge and Creating Change in Rural Senegal:

President Diagne sits by Ndiagne Kahone’s recent community garden harvest.

Meet President Ndeye Diagne from Ndiagne Kahone:

Ndeye Diagne is a dynamic community garden president and mother in the rural community of Ndiagne Kahone, one of CREATE!‘s newest partner villages. In 2020, Ndiagne Kahone took the first steps towards developing sustainable self-sufficiency through CREATE!‘s programs with Diagne in the lead. “I’m proud to lead the cooperative group of Ndiagne Kahone,” she says. “I always try to manage it correctly because I don’t want to disappoint my village, which believes in me as their president. I was the president of the group before CREATE! and now they reelect me again as their president in this project.”

Ndiange Kahone is no stranger to drought and desertification. With a short rainy season, many farmers are able to grow crops for only three months out of the year, thus impacting diets in rural communities.  In fact, only 27% of women aged 15-49 achieved Minimum Dietary Diversity (a verifiable indicator that measures micronutrient adequacy). However, Diagne and her group are meeting the challenge through the development of year-round diverse community gardens. We are positive that in a few months these numbers will increase greatly!

When asked how she hopes to inspire girls, the next generation of women in the village, Diagne says, “The lessons I give to the [girls] are to continue their study because it is young people who will replace us in the future. Most of them pass their free time in the site, they want to learn gardening and they ask many questions to the technicians. I encourage them to continue in this way because CREATE!‘s program could change their life in the future.”

Meet President Ndeye Diop from Mbossedji:

Ndeye Diop is the president of Mbossedji’s community garden group and the woman who brought together four distinct and neighboring localities, all of whom had the same objective and vision for development. “I‘m used to leading a group. I’m the first person to talk to when someone wants to talk to women. I represent my village in many ceremonies and I always talk on behalf of women in the village,” Diop explains.

When faced with the challenge of the country-wide shut down at the beginning of the pandemic, Diop found ways to encourage her group and continue moving forward since not working during the pandemic was not an option. In fact, during the initial phase of the restrictions that closed the regional weekly markets, Diop and her group turned their community garden into a makeshift market for the neighboring communities, selling their fresh produce to their neighbors and friends.

Diop knows that as president she is setting an example for the next generation. “As a woman and a mother, I always tell the girls that working is both for men and women,” she tells us. “I remind them that they will be the ones who lead the group in the future.”

President Diop in the Mbossedji’s community garden.

This year on International Women’s Day, we share our gratitude for the women leaders on our team and in our partner communities who are paving the way for future generations. We are so inspired by their commitment to achieving sustainability in their villages, and the great enthusiasm with which they take on the tasks and challenges at hand, creating lasting change for generations to come. Today, consider donating in honor of a woman who has made a significant impact on your life.