Social Issues

Malian women challenge stereotypes amid insecurity

Bamako, Mar 7 (EFE).- Women in Mali, a country struggling to contain a Islamist militants insurgency and political instability, not only have to deal with the daily insecurity in their country but with gender stereoptypes that rule their lives.

But some, like Alima and Marie Julie, have broken these stereotypes by working in jobs that are traditionally reserved for men, setting an example for other Malian women.

Alima Traoré, a mother of two, is a motorcycle cab driver, a profession rarely undertaken by women.

Besides her day job, Alima is studying economics at university.

“At first my fellow students considered it crazy for a woman to venture into the motorcycle cab profession,” she tells Efe.

Alima admits that the daily threat of an attack in her city and gender stereotypes she faces on a daily basis make her job challenging.

“There is always a problem with the clients. Some find it difficult to accept being transported by a woman, but it will come.”

Marie Julie Traoré, a divorcee and mother of one, holds the same hope as Alima.

She works as a camerawoman on national television, another male-dominated profession.

Abandoned by her family after her mother died, Marie Julie grew up on the streets.

“I endured hunger and thirst. Many times I managed to escape assaults and attempts of rape. I have been fortunate to be able to overcome these difficulties. Now nothing scared me,” she tells Efe.

One in three women in Mali have been sexually assaulted at some time in their lives, according to the United Nations Development Program.

Despite all the obstacles Marie Julie faced, she managed to study at the National Institute of Arts in Bamako after which she landed a job as a camerawoman for national TV.

“Women themselves are surprised when they see a woman practicing this profession. I like doing this work alongside male colleagues, so I show that Malian women can do a lot and more.

“I want to tell my story in a book or a film. I want other women to know that we can live through hell and find paradise again,” she says. EFE


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