Gender Needs Assessment for Louga City, Senegal
This report presents the findings of a gender needs assessment for Louga, Senegal, the smallest city participating in the Millennium Cities Initiative. With an estimated 2009 population of 86,450, the city of Louga is growing rapidly. In the early 1970s, the region of Louga experienced a persistent drought that severely affected the agro-pastoral sector, the main source of regional revenues and the heart of Louga City's economy. Today, the city's economy consists mainly of local trade activities and a small scale industrial sector. Gender inequalities are pervasive in Louga City. Young girls' school enrollment rates decline steadily after the primary school level, illiteracy rates among women are much higher than among men and most women are self-employed, working as vendors in the local markets or as maids. The lack of formal sector employment opportunities for women is one reason why many women in Louga seem to live in perpetual poverty. Moreover, violence against women appears to be prevalent across the region, but it is difficult to estimate accurately its extent because of a longstanding culture of secrecy surrounding the problem. Based on these findings, MCI proposes here the following interventions anchored in the recommendations of the UN Millennium Project Task Force on Education and Gender Equality: Awareness campaigns on reproductive and sexual rights, property/inheritance rights and gender-based violence; Vocational training targeting women; Reinforcement of existing microcredit programs; Engagement of all members of the society, especially religious leaders, in the implementation of proposed interventions; Gender sensitivity trainings for judges, bureaucrats and police officers. The MDG-based costing model utilized by MCI indicates that with an annual per capita investment of less than $3 between 2010 and 2015, a number of interventions that have the potential to empower its women and reduce gender inequality can be implemented in city of Louga. As cross-cutting issues affecting all areas of community and economic life, gender equality and women's empowerment have been proven to contribute toward economic development and family health. Achieving MDG3 is critical to the realization of all other Goals. MCI's findings indicate that this modest public investment can help ensure social and economic progress in this regional capital and will galvanize Louga's efforts to achieve all of the Millennium Development Goals.
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