Gender Equality Context in Senegal

Senegal is a relatively stable African democracy with high economic growth forecasts according to the World Bank, despite its high unemployment and fertility rates. However, it faces the challenges of having not only a vast youth population, but also high levels of poverty and low levels of social protection, all of which have implications for gender equality.

The country has made legal advances to ensure women’s equality, including the 2010 Parity Law that amends the Constitution to mandate parity between men and women in electoral lists for all elections.  Its implementation during the 2012 legislative elections almost doubled the representation of women from 64 of 150 legislative seats in 2012 and 70 of 165 seats in 2017.

Senegal has adopted the National Strategy for Equity and Gender Equality (2016 –2026) to ensure that women, girls, men and boys have the same opportunities to participate in and benefit equally from development. The strategy also mandates gender budgeting at national level.

Nevertheless, the OECD’s Social Institutions and Gender Index scores Senegal as only ‘medium’ (on a scale ranging from very low to very high) on its gender discrimination scale, given its discriminatory family laws regarding ownership of assets, inheritance and other legal rights.

While the 1972 Family Code grants men and women equal access to land, traditional custom prevents equality in practice, with women often unable to inherit land and husbands often opposing the acquisition of land by their wives. While child, early and forced marriages are prohibited under article 108 of the Family Code, they are still widespread.