In Mali – as in many other African countries – women are largely disadvantaged compared to the male population. This applies both to access to education and employment as well as to the social and economic status of women. However, there are differences between the various ethnic groups. With the Bambara, the women’s sphere of influence is largely limited to the family farmstead, while the representation of family interests at village level is carried out by the men. Compared to other ethnic groups, the Tuareg have extensive equality between women and men.
According to watchtutorials, Mali is a country located in Western Africa. Widespread migration and the increasing problems of maintaining traditional social security systems or replacing them with new systems often have negative effects on the living conditions of the female population and on activities to improve their living and economic conditions.
Although women traditionally play an important role in the market, there is an increasing professional dynamic among sections of the female population, especially in the cities.
The principle of gender equality is enshrined in the Malian constitution. In addition, Mali has ratified international conventions aimed at eliminating all discrimination based on gender and race. Nevertheless, there is a legally anchored disadvantage for women in the sense that according to the Malian marriage law, a wife has no right to her children after divorce, which usually remain with the father in the event of a divorce. Traditionally, fathers can marry off their daughters against their will, and in some cases a very early marriage age can be observed. Polygamy is still widespread.
In 2011 the government passed a new family law. The law is considered to be far more conservative than the original draft law, which would have strengthened the rights of the female population in particular. The latter was met with strong rejection from influential Islamic associations and part of the population. Although almost all members of parliament had voted for the draft of the new family law, the then president refused to sign itof the original bill. Since the new law threatened to divide society, he referred the bill back to parliament for revision. Numerous demands of the Islamic associations were taken into account in the revised draft law. Sections of civil society, and in particular women’s rights associations, criticized the new law as a step backwards.
In Mali there are a large number of NGOs that campaign for a better participation of women in social life. They also endeavor to interest women in specific social issues that are not just women’s issues. Since 1997, the Ministry for the Advancement of Women, Children and Families, which regularly publishes reports on the situation of women, has followed a gender-oriented approach to equality. In reality, women hold much fewer public offices and, in particular, decision-making positions.
The considerable inequalities that persist between the male and female population are evident in the very poor classification of Mali in the Gender Gap Report (2018: Rank 143 out of 149 countries evaluated), which analyzes gender equality.
The traditional social order is shaped by hierarchies. You are born into ethnic groups that are divided into castes, and there can be differences between the ethnic groups. In addition to the noble caste, there are craft caste, the hunter caste and the griots caste. Each caste has specific tasks, rights and duties, which are decisive for the importance and position of the caste in the social structure. There is also the caste of former slaves in numerous ethnic groups. This is how the Fulbe society is dividedin three boxes: nobles, craftsmen and artists (weavers, blacksmiths, griots) and descendants of former slaves, many of whom are still exposed to strong stigmatization today. The Tuareg are also traditionally divided into noble and dependent (Bellah). However, many Bellah were able to break away from the dependency relationships and have achieved extensive independence. Nonetheless, reports of slave-like addictive relationships continue to exist. For some time, an association of those affected has been demanding compensation and more consistent action by the government against overt and covert slavery.
Traditions still play a major role, especially in rural regions. In the cities, on the other hand, significant processes of change can be observed at the microsocial level, which can be recognized by changing lifestyles and changing attitudes towards traditions. Migration and school attendance are examples of the reasons for the change processes mentioned.
In view of the inadequate state basic security systems, however, social networks and solidarity in large families continue to play a very important role in the security and survival of many people living in poor conditions.