Mauritania is a largely agricultural and pastoral country in the North-Western Saharan desert. As of 2020, only 47.3% of people had access to electricity. In 2021, around 15% of women were first married at 15, and in 2019, 156,142 children of primary school age were out of school. The country’s increasing poverty affects women and children in Mauritania. Here are five organizations seeking to aid women and children in Mauritania.
5 Organizations Helping Women and Children in Mauritania
- Association of Female Heads of Households (AFCF): This organization advances women’s and children’s rights in Mauritania by focusing on reform laws and preventive policies. Together with the Women’s Learning Partnership, it is able to help all people by passing effective legislation. AFCF focuses on campaigning for reform laws that prevent trafficking, violence, abuse and slavery, which predominantly affect women and children. AFCF had a huge success in its campaign to implement gender quotas in the Mauritanian parliament. AFCF’s programs directly supported the “election of 99 women including 6 women mayors, a female head of the Urban Community of Nouakchott and dozens of women ministers.” There is a growing amount of slavery prevention groups in West Africa that the organization has been able to support.
- United Nations Population Fund Mauritania (UNFPA): UNFPA helps women and children in Mauritania by increasing reproductive health access and initiatives. The programs UNFA supports promote gender equality and the organization has also aided in developing national plans for reproductive health and maternal mortality. UNFPA has been able to increase Mauritania’s ability to address health concerns such as HIV prevention. UNFPA protected 1,000 girls from genital mutilation. The organization trained 229 personnel in clinical rape treatments and created 16 obstetric facilities that have emergency care.
- Mauritanian Council for Business Women: This organization advances women’s economic mobility. It encourages participation in the business and finance sectors. It gives women business owners the opportunity to present themselves at regional and local exhibitions. Its goal is to promote further gender equality by encouraging female entrepreneurship. The organization also conducts campaigns for equality politically. By encouraging stronger relations for women in business and by giving women a platform to expand their businesses, women and children in Mauritania receive greater opportunities and are less likely to experience the inequalities both groups may face.
- MindLeaps: This is a unique organization that hosts dance classes in schools in Mauritania. It has trained psychologists to address students’ diverse set of needs. In 2017, MindLeaps ran a three-month program of dance classes for 117 street children and juvenile offenders in the capital city of Nouakchott. Since then, it has expanded to other towns and cities in Mauritania. It estimates that around 70% of its students end up being in the top 20% of their educational classes. The time spent in these dance classes builds social and emotional skills necessary for children to develop. The organization tracks each student individually and helps to foster stronger skills. MindLeaps has a 0% dropout rate and prides itself on the strong community building it promotes and its educational pursuits.
- Youth and Hope: Houleye Thiam founded Youth and Hope in 2011 in response to the lack of organization and funding in rural Mauritanian schools. It focuses primarily on populations of schools that include black Mauritanians, who are sometimes former refugees who have come back to their homeland. As of 2021, it serves repatriated villages. Its four target villages include Goural, Gawdal, Dolly and Houdalaye. Its goal is to make sure every student in the target villages has enough supplies to study five or more subjects. It has also committed to delivering supplies at least twice a year. The nonprofit acts largely on donations. Improving education efforts can largely improve the situation for the future women and children of Mauritania, as it promotes greater mobility in Mauritania.
Despite the challenges that women and children in Mauritania have faced, these five organizations are making a difference. As aid organizations continue their work in Mauritania, it is likely that quality of life will improve for all.
– Anna Richardson