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09 August 2010

Profile: Aïssatou Adamou (Niger)

Profile: Aïssatou Adamou (Niger)

Excerpts from the interview held during the Vues d'Afrique Festival in April 1997, Montreal, Quebec by Beti Ellerson. Translated from French. Published in Sisters of the Screen: Women of African in Film, Video and Television, 2000. Sisters of the Screen: African Women in Cinema, film released in 2002.

About Aïssatou Adamou

The National Television of Niger was established in 1978, as an educational television.  At the time, only experimental programs were shown. I was the first woman to work as television announcer.  I had many problems at the beginning, because a woman presented on television speaking to the public was not highly regarded. Initially, the public was critical of my public image on television.  However, this did not discourage me, because I had the encouragement of my parents and friends to persevere.  Gradually, people realized that women could work in the television industry just as well as men. They realized that there is no difference. Because of this gradual change in attitude, as the years passed, more women became interested in television. More schools are directing their students, both women and men, to the Institut de formation au technique de l'information et la communication, the professional school here in Niger.  Today there are women directors and journalists—not one, not two, nor three, but we are, in fact, quite numerous.

I address diverse themes.  I deal with ethnographic themes with a cultural context, such as the film Gossi that was screened here in Montreal.  I also address social themes such as pre- and post-natal health issues regarding women and children.  Women in the process of national development is a general theme on which there is a great deal of focus.  This includes women from both rural and urban sectors.  I also touch on issues concerning children, because it is necessary to focus on children.  An example would be the education of the young girl, which is a prevailing theme today.

The role she wants to play as a woman in the media

I am a woman, I am a mother, I am a wife, and I work in the media. So one of the roles that I have to take on is to transmit my knowledge to my sisters who perhaps have not had the chance to go to school. The fact that I work in television is in no way an impediment, in terms of the role that I have to play in my household. I have my work to do on the public level and I have a role to fulfill regarding my husband and my children. I am able to combine them without a problem.  I am most happy to say that I have children who are very understanding, and I also have a husband who encourages me.  If I am here today in Montreal, it is because of my husband. He encouraged me to come; he insisted that I must come.

As a woman do you bring something particular to your work in film and television?

Yes, absolutely. I think women are in a better position than men to speak about the problems of women. Women are in a better position than men to speak about how to care for a sick child.  As mother and communicator, I think that I have the better advantage to go in the direction of my sisters, without any difficulty. Reciprocally, my sisters also encourage me. They encourage us during the production of each program, often by letter, often by telephone calls, and just as often at work or at home. They come to tell me that the treatment of a certain subject was well presented.  They encourage us to continue the good work. I think that women are the only ones who can truly touch their sisters; because there are certain things that a woman cannot talk about to a man, such as the problems around polygamy. A man may perceive it in a certain way, while a woman, as woman, perceives it in her way.  We as women can present themes without the problem of vexing either men or women.

What is the position of women in other sectors of society in Niger?

My country is a democratic country. In terms of raising the consciousness of women and sensitizing the population about the conditions of women, we have institutions that have done their best to change old attitudes regarding women. We have women's organizations, we have legal organizations whose goal is to sensitize women about the role that they must play. On the administrative level, we have many women who occupy positions of high-level responsibility.

On the governmental level, we have women officials, though they are not very numerous. Women constitute fifty-two percent of the population; however, we have a disproportional small number of women in the government. We have three or four women officials; but, in relationship to their actual number in the population, we think that the government can do more. In the parliament, we have women, women who are fighters. I would say that gradually the attitudes are beginning to evolve.  People now have a much better understanding of the role of women. They realize that there can be no development without the participation of women. Nigeriens have understood this and I think things are advancing. Any project without the participation of women is doomed to fail.

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