A session of Great Advocacy for inclusion and rehabilitation of women accused of ‘witchcraft’ is planned on the new site of Sakoula, in the presence of the authorities, women and all stakeholders, on 2 March 2017.
Since 2013, UNESCO has been conducting in Burkina Faso many actions to promote a culture of peace, focusing in particular on social inclusion and empowerment of women and youth in the most marginalized social strata. The main beneficiaries are women excluded for ‘witchcraft’ accusation given shelter in Delwende centers, which have been transferred to Sakoula, and from Paspanga to Ouagadougou. The project is based on a double action of advocacy: inclusion and rehabilitation of victims, and direct support to their empowerment.
This third session of great advocacy is organized in the context of the movement of victims on the site of Sakoula, that they consider as an isolation and a new exclusion.
It will mobilize State authorities at the highest level, including among others the Minister of higher education, scientific research and Innovation (also president of the National Commission of Burkina Faso for UNESCO), the Ministry of justice and human rights, the Ministry of women, national solidarity and family. Other participants will include the Cardinal of Burkina Faso, officials of Muslim and Protestant communities, customary leaders including the personal representative of the Moro-Naba, the resident coordinator, representatives of UN agencies and civil society, and recognized leaders.
This session is part of key actions adopted by a citizen platform combating gender-based violence and social exclusion, in particular by accusation of witchcraft, which has also set up a monitoring and alert group able to react on new cases.
In Burkina Faso, this kind of social exclusion is based on the popular belief that older women, who are outliving their relatives or are jealous of not having been able to have children, may have the power to steal the lives of young people. Accusations of witchcraft often follow a sudden death that is viewed as suspicious. These women, defamed as “soul-eaters,” are forcibly banished from their community and lose any right to assistance despite their vulnerability.
UNESCO’s work aims at the socioeconomic reintegration of victims of witchcraft accusation.