Skip to content

Challenging Senegal’s Patriarchy

After her son’s death, Yayi Bayam Diouf decided to fish for a living. That set her on a course that has led to a plethora of awards for community activism — a photo in her house shows her receiving a medal from Senegal’s president, Macky Sall. She has encouraged dozens of women to set up not just fishing operations, but also hair and clothing shops, as well as businesses making soap and makeup, all supported with microfinancing from government and nonprofit sources. In 2015, she used a grant from U.N. Women Senegal to build a farm to grow mussels, providing work for about 100 women. But all that came later. Ms. Diouf says that after Alioune’s death she felt drawn to the sea and began thinking of leaving her office job to fish. Yet she faced resistance in the form of a patriarchal culture that expected women to stay in the home and men to work outside.