A Diamond in West Africa
Located in West Africa, the Mano River basin encompasses regions of Cote d’Iv oire, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Quests to control oil, diamond and gold stores have contributed to the area’s conflict, but there is one Guinean woman determined to bring stability to the region.
Dr. Saran Daraba Kaba, a CEDPA alumna, is the founder and president of the Mano River Women’s Peace Network. In 2000, Dr. Saran led women from all walks of life to participate in the process of bringing peace to the region. The network participated in negotiations, which culminated in peace talks in Ghana in 2003. Because of their efforts, the U.N awarded them with the Prize in the field of Human Rights.
Before she became a prominent figure in Guinea, Dr. Saran participated in CEDPA’s 1993 Institution Building workshop. The workshop brought together participants from French-speaking countries to help strengthen their organization’s capacity to provide efficient programs and services.
Shortly after her return to Guinea and her participation in several international conferences, Dr. Saran was appointed Minister of Social Affairs and the Promotion of Women in Guinea. She served as minister for three years, doubling the Ministry’s funding in the Guinean national budget and bringing in a substantial amount in foreign aid.
“The training I had at CEDPA, but elsewhere also, notably in Dakar, on communication skills, leadership, management and fundraising contributed to the success of my ministry,” stated Dr. Saran. “What was most rewarding was that using the skills I had learned in networking, lobbying, advocating…I got $8.5 million for the ministry.”
Always wanting to do more for the women in her country, in 2010, Dr. Saran was the only woman to run in the presidential elections in Guinea.
“I knew it would be very difficult to win, but my first goal was to let people know what women think about how the country is run,” she explained. “And I had that opportunity...it obliged the male candidates to talk about women’s issues.”
She was right. In 2010, she did not win, but Dr. Saran was not discouraged. She said she will run again. In the meantime, she began a new chapter in her life as Secretary-General of the Mano River Union, an organization dedicated to human security and the sustainable development of the sub-region, and, as always, wants to focus on women’s leadership.
Read Dr. Saran’s full story.