Female voices from Niger: 'Believe in women'

Marie Dounka, Water and Sanitation Officer, Concern Worldwide, Niger Photo: Jennifer Nolan
Marie Dounka, Water and Sanitation Officer, Concern Worldwide, Niger Photo: Jennifer Nolan

Marie Dounka's brother offered her support and advice, which gave her the courage and confidence to start her career. She tells her story in the third blog from our Female Voices from Niger series.

A young humanitarian

When I was still in secondary school I was paired with Mercy Corps for work experience. I helped out with humanitarian activities and,from a young age, I observed the realities of rural life. I started with HIV/AIDS activities and then nutrition. This gave me an idea of the problems our country faces.

In addition to nutrition, the question of water and sanitation also interested me, since it affected me personally. We had the same problems with water in my native village. When I started my studies there was no water and sanitation training opportunities in Niger. You had to go to Nigeria to train and I didn’t want to leave my family.

My big brother encouraged me to study at a public health school, as water and sanitation is an integral part of nutrition and health. Following his advice, I studied human nutrition and, by a stroke of good luck, my first job was in the water and sanitation sector.

My big brother Rastany has always supported me. He was always there to guide me and advise me. He was both father and brother to me. He listened to me and always encouraged me.

Encourage and inspire

My mother has always been a model for me too because of her devotion to putting her children first. I hope I can do the same for my children.  

Whether man or woman, I say to everyone, put your trust in women, believe in women and their value and competencies.

Believe in them and give them more confidence in themselves. If you are surrounded by people who tell you you can’t, you’ll believe them. So, if you’re surrounded by women, you must encourage them and inspire confidence.

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