Niger: Hadizatou Issa Iyayi

A widow is not needy just because she holds a special place in society. She also has her part to play in her country’s economic development.

— Hadizatou Issa Iyayi

Born in Diffa in 1957, Hadizatou Issa Iyayi is known in her country for her courage and her consistency in fighting against injustice and the relegation of women to second place in Niger.

Supporters of the AWVRN lost people dear to them – their husbands, their parents or others close to them – during the internal conflicts provoked by the Touareg rebels. It left them in a situation of poverty and total confusion. At the end of the rebellion, these women were afraid and bound to be forgotten by everyone, including Nigerian authorities. This is why Hadizatou initiated this organization. Another reason is that she wanted to mobilize means to allow the widows and victims of the rebellion to take up activities in order to earn their living and not lapse into begging, desolation, and disgrace. Hadizatou Issa Iyayi and her colleagues know how to work in difficult and very hard conditions with depressed populations in an environment made hostile by the persistence of deforestation and drought. Poverty is increased due to the constraints linked to the threat of the Toubou rebels present in the border triangle of Nigeria–Chad–Niger. These rebels move very easily in the field and constitute a serious threat since they strip the peasants of all their goods. Despite all this, Hadizatou and the others in her association did not lose hope and organized the production of local goods for use in the markets. Hadiza urged people to settle down and to participate fully in development that cannot be obtained without peace. In her understanding, without peace, the construction of the country and the search for stability to build a better future is not possible. With this in mind, the leader of the AWVRN approached the armies. And there were many who agreed to lay down their weapons and to renounce all forms of revenge. Still, she often receives death threats by people who do not understand that peace cannot be obtained without laying down weapons.

Association of Widows and Victims of the Rebellion of Niger (AWVRN)