Niger: Community Development and Gender Relations in the Islamic Sahel
Niger is a landlocked country in the northwest African Sahel. Its population is the fastest growing in the world, comprised of hospitable and hard-working people, and yet the country is ranked second to last on the UNDP human development index. Like many underdeveloped countries, Niger faces numerous interlaced problems that inhibit its development and victimize its people. Among them is gender inequality, an issue that Peace Corps Volunteers in Niger found to be inextricably linked to every other development concern in the country. During this presentation, a returned Peace Corps volunteer will reflect on her time in small Nigerien town where she lived and the effects that differing gender roles had on development projects as well as everyday life. As a female volunteer, she had the unique opportunity to blur the gender gap while still experiencing the breadth and depth of the gender disparity throughout the Islamic-influenced, agrarian culture.
Sarah Lyon-Hill is a second year graduate student in the joint Masters of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP)/Masters International Program. Her studies focus on international development planning and insert a two-year Peace Corps service experience between the first and second year of graduate study. Between 2009-2011, Sarah served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Niger. As a Municipal and Community Development volunteer, she worked with her local municipality and other community groups on several development projects dealing with health, women's empowerment and early childhood education.
The WID program has sponsored a discussion series for the past several years, giving students and professionals an opportunity to share their research and discuss issues of women in international development. Students, faculty, staff and members of the community are encouraged to attend the discussions and bring their ideas and questions. For the complete discussion series schedule for Spring 2012, see: http://www.oired.vt.edu/WID/events.html.
Feel free to bring your lunch and encourage others to attend. We look forward to seeing you there!