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Female voices from Niger: 'I am not fragile - I am a strong woman'
Mariama Mahamadou is our Emergency Health and Nutrition Program Manager in Tahoua, Niger. In the first of our Female Voices from Niger series, She shares her journey so far.
My father's influence
My father is one of those rare people who is intellectual, very religious, very Islamic, but also passionate when it comes to the education of girls. In our house, we’re not allowed to get married until we have a university degree.
My father has lived through many experiences that have allowed him to see that Nigerien women suffer a lot. He thinks that, as a woman, once you have a degree you can make your own way. After that, you’re autonomous; independent.
He is very strict when it comes to education and very strict when it comes to religion."
When I wanted to work with Concern, my husband did not initially agree. He didn’t want me to work, so I sent my father to talk to him. After their discussion, he agreed and I was off to work.
I think everything depends on the regard that one has for one’s spouse, how we reassure one another. My husband is one of the most understanding men I know. He is very generous, he supports me enormously, he is never angry that I work and he is, after my father, a person who has always supported me in life. He is extraordinary.
In terms of work, I stood out of my team. At every senior meeting I was selected to participate in, they noticed my work ethic and my attention to detail. When the food crisis in 2010 was declared, I helped the team a lot with the management of the emergency.
To love your work is essential. if you don’t love it, you have no motive. When you love your work everything else takes care of itself."
One of the first things to cultivate, when you love your work, is the ability to seek out solutions. You’ll find a way to make things happen.
There are some people who have told me: "when someone sees you like that, they get the impression that you are fragile, but at your core you’re a man."
I’m not fragile and at my core, I’m a strong woman.
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