Guinea: Joséphine Léno

Improving the lives of women in countries with high illiteracy rates also means improving the lives of the entire community.

— Joséphine Léno

Joséphine Léno (her surname is both written Léno and Lenaud) is a well-known personality in the trade union world of her country and, today, is vice-president of the Economic and Social Council of Guinea. It is an institution that enforces and oversees a consultation process aimed at improving people’s social and economic conditions. Joséphine fights for the economic and social well being of this West African country, after a long trade union and teaching career.

Madame is an experienced unionist. In her current functions, but especially in her fight to get more girls in schools, Josephine Léno is confronted by the reluctance of parents and some traditional leaders who exercise strong influence over students. This unschooling of girls for the aim of early marriages brings with it equally difficult problems in the fight against illiteracy among women. Thanks to her action, change is observable in Kissidougou (a prefecture 592 kilometers to the north of Conakry, the capital of Guinea) in the area of education, but also in the trade union environment, where she continues to serve as a mediator between the state and the trade unions during a crisis. By virtue of her current office, Joséphine is at the centre of all questions linked to improvements in people’s socio-economic conditions. Her work also benefits people living in rural areas and workers who accept her mediatory role in social conflicts. As a teacher and mother of three children, of which two are alive, Madame Guilano, born Joséphine Léno, headed the powerful National Union of Teachers of Guinea for several years under a president Ahmed Sékou Touré, whose reign was based on a one-party system renowned for its massive violations of human rights. With the death of Touré in April 1984, she became a member of the International Union of Teachers. For a period of four years, she was member of the Transitional Council of National Recovery (CTRN) that served as legislative body until legislative elections in June 1995. Named Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, she contributed to the containment of social turmoil in the working world, while engaging in dialog with those in charge of the various unions at the time.

Economic and Social Council of Guinea