The context

The Republic of Benin is a French-speaking country in West Africa, ranked 166 out of 188 countries in the 2015 Human Development Index. The department of Atacorà, on the border with Togo and Burkina Faso, where the project (which involves three of the nine municipalities of which it is composed) is concentrated experienced a strong dependence on the cotton production system for some decades, which has discouraged communities from investing in agricultural production for food.

Following the decline of this system, communities are now looking for productive differentiation. The local government itself has begun to promote and invest in agricultural supply chains of food products.

The coverage of people’s daily caloric needs, in fact, does not exceed 1,300 kcal for most of the population (instead of the minimum 2,400 required for an active adult) and the phenomenon mainly affects rural populations, whose 33% are unable to satisfy their own minimum nutritional requirements.

Furthermore, within the rural economy, the level of discrimination against women is very high, starting from childhood, when many girls are forced to drop out of school to take care of the house and siblings.

In Benin, women take care of most of the household and economic chores, ranging from food preparation, water supply within the family, to the cultivation and processing of food products. However, this fundamental role in society is not recognized in terms of rights. The woman rarely owns the land, participates in the decision-making processes of her community and has sufficient financial resources. According to the Gender Inequality Index, Benin occupies the 166th position out of 186 countries considered.


Kouandé, Dipartimento di Atakora, Benin


Natitingou, Dipartimento di Atakora, Benin


Toucountouna, Dipartimento di Atakora, Benin

The Objectives

The project focused on the one hand on schools, parents and teachers to create the conditions for girls to complete their studies and be granted equal citizenship rights. On the other hand, it continued Mani Tese’s support started in 2009 for three cooperatives of women producers, as a model and opportunity for female leadership in society.

The project, in particular, aimed to:

  • Strengthen the awareness of the communities concerned on the importance of promoting the education of girls
  • Improving the knowledge and exercise of citizenship rights, with particular attention to the female component of society from childhood
  • Strengthen female entrepreneurship experiences and enhance them as a model and future opportunity for the younger generations.
Project Details



Department of Atacorà, municipality of Natitingou, Toucountouna e Kouandé,


1695 between people involved in civic education activities and women from cooperatives.

The Activities
  • Community awareness on the importance of girls’ education: a cycle of 12 broadcasts in the local language that dealt with topics related to job opportunities that can guarantee education and citizenship rights of the female component of society was broadcasted for 6 weeks on the Natitingou and Kouandé radios.
  • Activation of a civic education path. In each of the 5 primary schools involved, courses were held for students of the last three years (9-12 years of age) and their parents on the history and institutions of Benin and on the role of women in Beninese society to contribute to a greater awareness of the key role played by women for the growth of the country. A manual for civic education has been created with a particular focus on the female component of society. The students involved also staged a theatrical show for parents on the issues addressed, about which a debate on the challenges presented was developed.
  • Exchange with Italian experiences. A mission was carried out by an expert in the field of education paths in Mani Tese schools who brought, through seminars and meetings with teachers, the experience and working methods used by Mani Tese in Italy and will contribute to the phases of the project. Three tablets were purchased that schools will be able to use to prepare documents, photos and videos and exchange them with peers from Italian schools selected as part of the Global Citizenship Education interventions.
  • Monitoring of cooperative activities. Three women’s cooperatives have been formed for about a year after Mani Tese’s almost ten-year work in this area. They were guaranteed an accompaniment, in order to better structure and consolidate their operations, especially from the management point of view.
  • Savings and credit. The members of the three cooperatives had the opportunity to access loans at the SIAN ‘SON microfinance institution, where Mani Tese has deposited a guarantee fund to facilitate the issuance of loans. Women need credit especially for the purchase of cassava to be transformed into garì and in order to be able to increase the quantity of processed and marketed product. Credit activity was then monitored by supporting women in the preparation of their investment plans.
  • Organization of collaborative activities between schools and women’s cooperatives. To allow a greater connection and exchange between education and the world of work, the women leaders of the cooperatives were invited to school to tell about their experience and the change produced in their lives by the possibility of being part, and above all being responsible, of an economic activity. At the same time, some experiential days will be organized for the students such as the laboratories for the transformation of cassava in garì.

Project Partners: