Peace Corps Burkina Faso’s Gender and Development Committee (GAD) held its first annual Women’s Health and Leadership Conference April 10-12, 2013. The conference focused on gender empowerment, leadership, and common health issues faced by women in Burkina Faso. Participants included 8 PCVs and 8 Burkinabe counterparts from all across the country. Facilitators included 5 PCVs and 2 Burkinabe leaders, including Lucille Batiano (APCD for Education program) and Agiratou Ouedrago, a female literacy teacher from the northern region of Burkina.
PCV Jamie Farrell led and organized an afternoon focusing on malaria information, prevention strategies, and income generating activities for women. The participants started off by playing what turned out to be a rather competitive game of Malaria Jeopardy which explained transmission, prevention, and treatment of malaria. This unique presentation of the issue helped to increase participation and raise motivation for involvement in malaria focused projects. Both the Burkinabe participants as well as PCVs were eager to share their experiences with malaria and challenges faced at the village level when it comes to combating this disease, including the price of treatment, being able to correctly diagnose the disease, and difficulties with maintenance of mosquito nets.
In order to encourage mosquito net usage and also provide ideas for potential income generating activities, the PCVs and Burkinabe learned how to manipulate their mosquito nets into unique, individually decorated nets which can be sold at local markets or distributed for special occasions such as weddings and baptisms. Nets were decorated with recycled scraps of cloth. While making these nets, participants had the opportunity to further discuss malaria as well as other health issues in an open, comfortable environment. In addition to the mosquito nets, participants also received a manual of resources that can aid with projects at the village level.