The Government of Niger, through the Ministry of Public Health, Population and Social Affairs, in partnership with the Niger Traditional Leaders Association and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), is organizing an international symposium on the theme, "Traditional leaders as agents of change." Presided by His Excellency Mohamed Bazoum, President of the Republic of Niger, the symposium will hold at the Mahatma Gandhi International Conference Center, in Niamey, Niger, from 22 to 23 November 2021.
This symposium aims to promote experience-sharing and enhance traditional leaders' capacity to strengthen the use of culture and the appropriation of traditional practices to harness the demographic dividend.
UNFPA Deputy Executive Director for Programmes will be on an official visit to Niger and will personally address the opening ceremony of the symposium. In addition, UNFPA Regional Director for West and Central Africa will also participate.
Experts in Islam and development from Chad, Indonesia, Mauritania, Niger and the Al Azhar University of Egypt will share their experiences around three thematic areas relating to child marriage, girls' education and family planning. These themes are at the heart of the significant challenges faced by the President’s Renaissance Program Act 3, which intends to accelerate the process of demographic transition.
"We are delighted to bring together over 400 delegates for the symposium and look forward to developing a national action plan to address these challenges," noted UNFPA Resident Representative in Niger, Mr. Ismaila MBENGUE.
This symposium is part of the partnership between UNFPA and the Niger Traditional Leaders Association, a strategically important social institution working on population and sustainable development issues.
Since 2012, UNFPA Niger has intensified its collaboration with traditional leaders, enabling them to achieve concrete results in community engagement and social and behavioural change. Girls' education, maternal health, capacity building for girls and young people, child marriage, female genital mutilation and social cohesion are areas of particular interest for the communities. As a result, UNFPA is contributing to delivering successful results.
The United Nations awarded the Niger Traditional Leaders Association for its role and commitment to social mobilization and socio-cultural transformation.
This year 2021, UNFPA is funding ninety-one cantonal action plans to support traditional leaders in implementing the aforementioned programmes.