Guinea: Hadja Saran Daraba

I think that minimizing the role of civil society was one of the failures of the peace process in Sierra Leone.

— Hadja Saran Daraba

Hadja Saran Daraba, a pharmacist, was the first woman to take advantage of the liberalism established in Guinea in 1984, creating a pharmaceutical office. She is president of COFEG, am organization that oversees about 60 women’s NGOs. She was also minister for the promotion of women and children, a function which has provided her with great experience in humanitarian activities and to research and consolidate peace.

Hadja Saran Daraba and the Women Network of the River Mano for Peace (REFMAP) appeared in public in 2001 when the situation in the region of Mano was very dramatic, and when the three governments of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone refused to meet. The political dialogue, according to Saran Daraba, was completely blocked and people were killed. NGOs working in the field could not move because the army factions were controlled by a criminal economic system that had developed in the region of the river – there was trafficking in drugs, children, women, and weapons. Thus, a sort of parallel economy was installed and certain people had no interest in peace. It was in this situation that the organisation of Saran Daraba became involved, among others, fighting against the raping of women and the forced enrollment of children in armed groups. REFMAP also fought successfully for women to have a place in the different peace negotiations so that their views were taken into account. The leader of REFMAP gave a pertinent analysis to the leaders, of which here some extracts: “You cannot say: ‘I do not care if that happens in Sierra Leone or in Liberia because I am Guinean.’ Not at all! What happens to your neighbor will soon happen to you, and vice versa. We did not move quickly enough to stop the war in Liberia. Liberia burned, then Sierra Leone and then Guinea itself. We should say: ‘Listen, all that must stop.’" Hadja Saran Daraba is engaged, at the national level, in a vision to reinforce the culture of peace by encouraging the contributions of all social actors (NGOs, media, traditional communicators, women, traditional leadership, religious leaders, etc). The goal is the consolidation of peace and the prevention of conflict in West Africa and poverty in Africa.

Coordination des ONG Féminines de Guinée (COFEG) Réseau des femmes du Fleuve Mano pour la paix (REFMAP)