Pascaline Bampoky: “women are good managers”

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Pascaline Bampoky: “women are good managers”

"I believe that if you come into a community, you have to follow its mode of functioning," says Pascaline Bampoky, a 30-year-old mother of three and a keen member of a women's association in the town of Bignona, Casamance province, Senegal.

Pascaline was born in another district of Casamance, orphaned "at a tender age" and taken in by a maternal aunt who brought her up "as her own child". After primary school education only, Pascaline went to Dakar to work as a housemaid. There she met her husband, who ran a small shop in the city.

On the death of his father, Pascaline's husband transferred his business to his home town of Bignona so that he could look after his paternal grandfather. Together the couple also work the grandfather's rice fields. "My husband does the [plant] nursery and ploughs the plots…" Pascaline says. "As for me, I take care of planting the rice and also of the harvest." They grow just enough to feed the family for three months. "We don't have enough resources or land to produce more," Pascaline explains. They have experimented with growing millet and cassava in addition to rice, but these produced "really very little, for our own consumption and not for sale".

Pascaline refers to varying practices in relation to the control and inheritance of land, and their affect on women. If she had married in her home village, she says she could have inherited land from her grandmother. She explains: "In our tradition, when a girl gets married she is given land by her parents so that she can work and feed her children. When she dies her children inherit the land."

About the women's association she belongs to in Bigogna, she says: "We provide our services for a fee during the rainy season. But this season I didn't take part because I was pregnant. Otherwise I am a very active member… above all my personal interest is the solidarity aspect of the association. We help each other as much as we can."

Although she regrets her lack of education and training, Pascaline believes that "women are naturally good managers" and she is pursuing various means of making a living.  She raises chickens and pigs for sale, using the income for school fees and medical expenses.   She has also started a small business: "We have a refrigerator, so I make ice cream to sell," she says. Her husband provided the start-up money for the business and she sells the ice cream in schools and "sometimes at church".