US Embassy Pushes Gender Equality in Benin

Benin_Women

On April 10, 2014, over 50 men and women convened to discuss women and power in the workplace. The event was organized by both the American Cultural Center and the Association for Professional Integration as a follow up to last month’s discussion on the notable book, “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead,” written by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. The lively debate was attended by students, teachers, and professionals from a variety of other fields, including NGOs, public administration, and the private sector. The Deputy Chief of Mission in Cotonou, Benin–Todd Whatley–remarked on the United States’ commitment to promoting gender equality worldwide by stating that “Advancing the rights of women does not just benefit women. Research shows that progress in women’s employment, health, and education leads to greater economic growth and more cohesive communities.”

Further reading:

http://allafrica.com/stories/201404101670.html

Image sources:

http://www.painetworks.com/previews/hn/hn2086.html

http://womenalliance.org/birth-registration

Faster Cargo Clearance Has a Positive Impact on Benin Economy

Benin Port

The average clearing time for cargo in Benin is highly reduced, leading to a boost in the transport of goods via ports. Nigeria, a neighboring country, stands to lose business at its ports due to the long clearing time of 14 to 21 days. In Cotonou, Benin, the cargo clearing process averages seven days. The faster process proves to be more cost-effective, which thereby stimulates the growth of the port industry, as well as accumulate revenue for the government. General manager of the RORO Terminal in Benin states that it takes an average of seven days to clear a container, and 24 hours to clear a vehicle. Their goal is to eventually minimize the cargo dwell time to 24 hours so that importers may retrieve their containers as soon as the ships dock.

Cargo clearance in Cotonou port has become faster due to governmental port reform that was initiated in 2011. Since the reform established a single online clearing platform called SEGUB, there is less vessel waiting time, free flow of traffic in the port access roads, and an increased volume of cargo in the port.

Further Reading: http://businessdayonline.com/2014/02/importers-move-to-ghana-benin-ports-as-slow-processes-in-nigeria-hurt-business/#.UyCV-vldXTo

Image Source: http://www.dredgingtoday.com/2013/02/07/benin-afgen-inks-agreement-with-dredging-international/

Forgotten Pasts and Preserved Heritage, Benin’s African Contemporary Art Museum

Zinsou foundation contemporary African art in the Villa Ajavon in Ouidah

The port city of Ouidah stands today as a cultural hub of arts and religion in Benin. During the transatlantic slave trade, however, Ouidah’s reputation was bleak. Located on the coast of West Africa, Ouidah was the site of the Tree of Forgetfulness, where enslaved men, women, and children were forced to encircle the tree that would make them forget their identities and histories before being shipped off to the Americas. Although it may have been a process that was more metaphoric than real, the histories and cultures that were allegedly forgotten are now preserved in West Africa’s first contemporary art museum located in Ouidah. The Zinsou family established the free museum in the facade of the early 20th-century Afro-Brazilian edifice–Villa Ajavon. The museum has thrived since its debut in November 2013. By exhibiting the works of local and international artists, such as Romuald Hazoumé, the museum stands as a marker of Africa’s significance to the art world. Hazoumé exhibits paintings and photos that reflect his Beninese culture and religion, which is very much in line with the museum’s mission to preserve African artistic heritage within the actual continent. For more information on the museum and the Zinsou Foundation, visit the official website at http://www.fondationzinsou.org/FondationZinsou/Fondation_Zinsou_Accueil.html.

Image Source: http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/gallery/2014/jan/06/african-contemporary-art-ouidah-benin#/?picture=424525494&index=9

Related Articles: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/17/african-artists-benin-museum-thrives

http://www.theartnewspaper.com/articles/African-contemporary-art-museum-opens-in-Benin-in-former-slave-trade-centre/31402

Benin and Haitian President Discuss Future Cooperation

In mid October, 2012 La Francophonie summit was held in the Democratic Republic of Congo. During the summit, the President of Benin, Boni Yayi, met with the Haitian President Michel Martelly to discuss the possibility of cooperation between the two countries. President Yayi stated that Benin is “with Haiti” and wants to help with the development of the country. The two Presidents are considering a summit in order to lay out the terms of cooperation to help Haiti with development and policy.

In 2010, Benin signed an agreement with the Haitian State to provide scholarships to Haitian students and provide them with a higher education in Administrative Sciences, Economic and Financial Sciences, Biological and Environmental Sciences, Human and Social Sciences, or Science and Technology. President Martelly and President Yayi discussed the students and the program during the summit.

Haiti President Michel Martelly and Benin President Boni Yayi

http://www.caribjournal.com/2012/10/16/haitis-martelly-holds-talks-with-leaders-of-benin-cote-divoire-senegal/