Burkina Faso: Photo exhibition highlights women and girls’ fight to claim their rights

On 8 March Amnesty International is launching a photo exhibition telling the stories of women and girls in Burkina Faso who have shown courage and determination in their battle to triumph over violence, abuse and violations of their rights.

The exhibition captures twelve portraits, some of which include pictures taken by photographer Leila Alaoui, who tragically died alongside her driver, Mahamadi Ouédraogo, following the Al Qaeda attack in Ouagadougou last January.

These are stories of girls and women who have triumphed against all the odds. Whether they were forced into marriage as child brides or endured difficult situations as victims of discrimination, they all fought to protect their rights in the hope for a better future
Samira Daoud, Amnesty International West and Central Africa Deputy Regional Director for Campaigns

A tribute to Leila and Mahamadi will be held at the opening event in the northern city of Ouahigouya, the last place they visited during their assignement.

“These are stories of girls and women who have triumphed against all the odds. Whether they were forced into marriage as child brides or endured difficult situations as victims of discrimination, they all fought to protect their rights in the hope for a better future,’’ said Samira Daoud, Amnesty International West and Central Africa Deputy Regional Director for Campaigns.

“And there is cause for celebration. Just last week, the government committed to raising the age of marriage for girls to 18 and will introduce free healthcare for pregnant women in an effort to reduce the number of maternal deaths.”

Burkina Faso has the 7th highest rate of child marriage in the world. One in 10 girls are married before the age of 15, with some as young as 11 forced into marriage. More than half of all women are married before the age of 18. In addition, just 17% of women use contraception - one of the lowest rates in the world.

On 13 March the exhibition will be relocated to the capital Ouagadougou in collaboration with the association of women teachers.

Awa Ouédraogo photographed by Leila Alaoui in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, on 13 January 2016, as part of the My Body My Rights campaign.

Awa Ouédraogo is fruit seller in Ouagadougou and a former resident of the Pan Bila shelter for survivors of forced marriage, rape and unwanted pregnancy in Ouagadougou. When she fell pregnant at age 14, she was rejected by her family, lived in the street and gave birth to her child one evening in a shop where she took refuge. Awa spent a few years at Pan Bila with her child and is now independent and able to provide for herself and her child thanks to her fruit stall. Awa Ouédraogo photographed by Leila Alaoui in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, on 13 January 2016, as part of the My Body My Rights campaign.

Awa Ouédraogo is fruit seller in Ouagadougou and a former resident of the Pan Bila shelter for survivors of forced marriage, rape and unwanted pregnancy in Ouagadougou. When she fell pregnant at age 14, she was rejected by her family, lived in the street and gave birth to her child one evening in a shop where she took refuge. Awa spent a few years at Pan Bila with her child and is now independent and able to provide for herself and her child thanks to her fruit stall.
Awa Ouédraogo is a fruit seller in Ouagadougou and a former resident of the Pan Bila shelter for survivors of forced marriage, rape and unwanted pregnancy in Ouagadougou. When she fell pregnant at age 14, she was rejected by her family, lived in the street and gave birth to her child one evening in a shop where she took refuge. Awa spent a few years at Pan Bila with her child and is now independent and able to provide for herself and her child thanks to her fruit stall. Photographed by Leila Alaoui in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, on 13 January 2016, as part of the My Body My Rights campaign.