Linked with the presentation of Intermón Oxfam.
She is one of the 1000 women proposed fort the Nobel Peace Price 2005.
Goes with ‘Assuming Authority‘.
She says: “Since I was a child, I have always had a dream: that one day I shall build a big house where all unfortunate people can live and enjoy life.”
Achta Djibrine Sy – Chad
She works for Intermón Oxfam (IO); for Groupe informel de réflexion et de recherche action feminine (GIRAF); and for Said-Al-Awine (Women’s Union).
Achta Djibrine Sy (born 1962) obtained her first degree in Management and Economics from the University of N’Djaména. She is Intermón Oxfam Representative in Chad and has been advocating women’s work to be visible, regardless of their ethnical and religious background. She encourages women to gain self-confidence and to pool their labor to bring about peace in Chad. Thanks to her splendid efforts, women who were very poor some years ago are now self-dependent and are even able to give loans to others.At the beginning of civil war in Chad in 1979, Achta Djibrine Sy was a 17 years old high school student. Despite the abrupt instability of the country, she succeeded in getting her baccalaureate and Bsc in Management and Economics from the University of N’Djaména in 1989. A year before completing her Bsc program, she worked with a group of women, who were affiliated with international organizations in the country, to form an interactive assembly called “Groupe informel de réflexion et de recherche action feminine” (GIRAF), which is an informal group of research about women issues.
That was the start of her lobbying for the promotion of women’s needs. In that group she sets her aims at the betterment of women’s condition and the paramount contribution that the NGO’s can achieve for women welfare. A database was collected and workshops were organized to discuss the social and political challenges regarding Chadian women’s promotion. The aims of the group are prioritised for “social changes and power of speech allowed to women”. Shifting from her accounting background, as she was trained, Achta Djibrine became Program Manger of OXFAM UK in Chad, for gender and women issues. She was later promoted as the country Representative of Intermón-OXFAM. Being in charge of humanitarian organization, Achta’s work includes communication, dealing with International partners, coordination between her organization and other NGO’s, and finance. She represents her institution in the Chadian government. Through her work in the OXFAM Achta is giving technical and financial assistance to partners, fighting violence against gender, …etc. Regarding gender issues, Achta Djibrine Sy believes, “We are the product of an education based on our culture. Chadians should know that times have changed and so are roles and behaviours. We should put our cultural and social differences aside and work together to build up peace.” Achta adds, “My dream came true because despite having a degree in Economics, God makes blessed me to work for an institution that is dedicated to help people. My mission in life is to assist others”. After the civil war in Chad, an undemocratic regime seized power. Due to the political upheavals at that time, it was difficult to work together in groups; people lost trust in each other. Women, the weakest side in the community, had to suffer. But Achta Djibrine Sy succeeded in teaming up women from different social and educational backgrounds and they formed the “Said al awine” (Women’s Union) where they collaborated to help the local community. “I have to capitalize information, think about women’s situation and help them in different ways. I wanted Chadian women to be self-dependant and self-confidant. My dream was to boast their capabilities in order to achieve their responsibilities and act for peace in the country”, Achta explains. She was told at the beginning that it is not easy to work with underprivileged people, especially urban women who were loaded with a lot of problems. According to Achta, even the group of women with whom she worked did not believe in the beginning that they could achieve any progress. That is why the only way they could work was within the private sector. Those women thought that only women who work in governmental institutions can succeed in their lives. Achta helped those women to gain self-esteem and self-confidence. She recalls the day when she accompanied those ladies to sign their recognition paper: ”at the entrance of the Ministry office, following the local traditional etiquettes, they took off their shoes before entering the office. Today, they are more self-confident and they know how to negotiate with the mayor and with development partners. They travel abroad and exchange their views with others. Today, the Women’s Union is able to manage its aims with the auspicious financial contributions of those women, their resources and the loans given to less-fortunate members. The president of “Said al awine”, Doumtloum Salomé, who worked with Achta for 18 year, is still impressed by her challenging character. He says, “ In 1987, I heard Achta on the national radio talking about helping poor women to be self-sufficient. Her views appealed to me, and I went with a group of women to meet her. All through our work with her, I have been impressed by her temperament and approach. She always convinces her audience without frustrating. In working with groups, you are likely to encounter problems. Achta always has an objective perspective in handling problems. She stays above frictions, and at the same time she brings herself down to women’s level in order to understand their problem and to find effective solutions. Sometimes, she even volunteers to help us solve our family problems. Away from religious fanaticism, Achta believes that there is no difference between a Muslim and a Christian. She thinks that all Chadian women are to be treated the same way. I am wondering if she ever got angry one day. She is a woman of peace and justice, though very strict in the way she works.” Achta has worked hard to found the “Cellule de liaison et d’information des associations féminines” (CELIAF), an institution of feminine associations and fellowships. The idea behind the establishment of this institution was inspired to her after a workshop she organized in order to team up active feminine groups and network their efforts. In addition to its headquarter in N’djamena, this institution has offices in other provinces and a representative in the Chadian Oil Committee. Lambatime Helene, President of the Chadian jurist women association says: “Achta is a wonderful woman. she succeeded in networking women from more than a hundred ethnicities. She founded the CELIAF. She is a good mediator. For years, she has been defending women’s rights and peace in this country”. When asked about what keeps her going for 18 years, Achta answers: “I feel happy when I manage to put a smile on others’ faces; my reward is the changes that I can bring to their lives”. Achta Djibrine Sy is married, mother of five daughters and one son. She adopted an orphaned girl. She speaks about her adopted daughter, saying, “She is my daughter’s friend and after her mother and her two brothers had died, I told her she can come and live with my children in my house. That way, she can at least have a proper family and some friends, even though I cannot replace her biological mother” (Read this on this 1000peacewomen page).
Slowly but surely: Oxfam UK/I in Chad has been building the capacity of women’s income-generating activities through a strategy of long-term small-scale support over a period of many years to the Said Al-Awine program. In the new Chad strategic four-year plan, gender is central to the development of a new phase of increasing the capacity of such organizations to network, lobby, and conduct policy research. The key to Oxfam’s success in Chad has been long-term commitment and close work with poor, illiterate women. Oxfam UK/I began targeting urban women in 1988 in the informal sector of N’djamena to increase food security and improve living standards by encouraging small groups of women traders of basic foodstuffs to establish savings plans. Each group and each member held their own savings with the women investing 33%, Oxfam giving 33% as a subsidy, and Oxfam providing another 33% as a loan to be repaid. Many groups took out and repaid loans. The 16 groups in N’djamena came together in 1995 to form a union, with a representative from each group co-managing the joint fund for the union. More than 100 applications have been received to join the scheme.
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