Niger is a poor Sahelian country with few resources and unstable governments. In fact, it is the country with the second poorest living standards in the world, only surpassed by uneasy Sierra Leone. Little progress thus is made in improving the situation of women's rights. Traditional practices, including the use of family or traditional courts, thus regulate the living conditions of most women. A recent change of government priorities however raises hopes for serious poverty alliviation.

Despite the Constitution's provisions for women's rights, the traditional belief in the submission of women to men is deeply rooted.

Domestic violence against women is widespread in Niger. Prostitution is often the only alternative for a abused woman who divorces her husband. Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is practiced by several ethnic groups in the country.

Each Nigerien woman averagely gives birth to over 7 children (2000 est.).


Social data
Life expectancy: Total population: 41.27 years
male: 41.43 years
female: 41.11 years (2000 est.)
Literacy rate: Total population: 13.6%; male: 20.9%; female: 6.6% (1995 est.)
Medical services: 30% of the people have access to medical services. (33.000 persons per doctor).
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female; under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female; 15-64 years: 0.95 male(s)/female; 65 years and over: 1.11 male(s)/female; total population: 1 male(s)/female (2000 est.)
Religious data:
Muslim 82%, traditional African religions 17,82%, Christian 0,18%


Family and tradition

Discrimination is worse in rural areas, where women do much of the subsistence farming as well as child-rearing, water- and wood-gathering, and other work. Despite constituting 47 percent of the work force, women have made only modest inroads in civil service and professional employment and remain underrepresented in these areas.

Women's inferior legal status is evident, for example, in head of household status: A male head of household has certain legal rights, but divorced or widowed women, even with children, are not considered to be heads of households. Among the Hausa and Peul in the east, some women are cloistered and may leave their homes only if escorted by a male and usually only after dark. In 1994 the Government considered a draft family code intended to eliminate gender bias in inheritance rights, land tenure, and child custody, as well as end the practice of repudiation, which permits a husband to obtain an immediate divorce with no further responsibility for his wife or children. However, in June 1994 when Islamic associations criticized the draft code, the then-Government suspended discussions. The Government has taken no further action on the family code, although on August 13, it ratified the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Some Islamic groups criticized the treaty and complained that they were not consulted beforehand. Women's groups have so far been silent, allegedly due to fear of reprisals. The same Islamic militant groups worked against the family code, and reportedly threatened women who supported the code with physical harm.

Tradition among some ethnic groups allows young girls from rural families to enter into marriage agreements on the basis of which girls are sent by the age of 10 or 12 (or younger) to join their husband's family under the tutelage of their mother-in-law. There are credible reports of underage girls being drawn into prostitution, sometimes with the complicity of the family.

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is practiced by several ethnic groups in the extreme west and far eastern areas of the country. Clitoridectomy is the most common form of FGM.


Gender sensitivity in society

The Constitution prohibits discrimination based on sex, social origin, race, ethnicity, or religion. However, in practice there is discrimination against women, children, ethnic minorities, and disabled persons, including limited economic and political opportunities.

Despite the Constitution's provisions for women's rights, the deep-seated traditional belief in the submission of women to men results in discrimination in education, employment, and property rights.

Health data
Access to potable water: 48%
Medical services: 30% of the people have access to medical services. (33.000 persons per doctor).
Maternal mortality rate:
Infant mortality: 124,9 deaths/1.000 live births (2000 est.)
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM): Females in several ethnic groups undergo this procedure.

Female genital mutilation, which is widely condemned by international health experts as damaging to both physical and psychological health, is practiced by several ethnic groups in the extreme west and far eastern areas of the country. Clitoridectomy is the most common form of FGM. FGM is not illegal, but the Government is engaged firmly in an effort to eliminate the practice. The Government is working closely with a local NGO, the United Nations Children's Fund, and other donors to develop and distribute educational materials at government clinics and maternal health centers.

Violence against women

Domestic violence against women is widespread, although firm statistics are lacking. Wife beating is reportedly common, even in upper social classes. Families often intervene to prevent the worst abuses, and women may (and do) divorce because of physical abuse. While women have the right to seek redress in the customary or modern courts, few do so, due to ignorance of the legal system, fear of social stigma, or fear of repudiation. Women's rights organizations report that prostitution is often the only economic alternative for a woman who wants to leave her husband.

Main sources: U.S. Department of State, CIA, UN, HRW, Mundo negro

Fighting in Niger kills 5 soldiers, 30 Boko Haram militants

September 14, 2016

Associated Press

NIAMEY, Niger –  Niger's defense ministry says at least five soldiers and 30 Boko Haram militants have been killed after an ambush by the Nigeria-based Islamic extremists led to fighting.

Col. Moustapha Michel Ledru said the attack on soldiers Monday near Toumour, about 65 kilometers (40 miles) northeast of the town of Diffa, also injured six soldiers.

He spoke Tuesday night on national television, saying the army captured two extremists along with a large quantity of arms and ammunition.

Ledru also said two soldiers were killed Sept. 8 when their vehicle hit an improvised explosive device during a patrol near Barwa locality in the Diffa region.

Boko Haram has been launching attacks across Nigeria's borders into Niger, Chad and Cameroon, which contribute to a multinational force that seeks to counter it.

70 Niger Churches Struggle to Rebuild After Islamist Revenge Rampage for Charlie Hebdo Cartoons

July 24, 2015

Christian churches in Niger are facing a lack of resources and difficult conditions in rebuilding six months after the wave of angry Islamist attacks destroyed at least 70 houses of worship in revenge for Charlie Hebdo's drawings of the Muslim prophet Muhammad.

"Since these incidents, it is as if life had stopped," said Rev. Jacques Kangindé, leader of the Baptist "Roundabout" church in Niamey. "The church has become a source of curiosity for passers-by and a hide-out for idlers. Unfortunately our current church finances don't allow us to begin the reconstruction."

World Watch Monitor noted that most of the 70 churches destroyed in the attacks, as well as several Christian schools and an orphanage, have still not been rebuilt.

"We feel that, as the emotion of the first days has now passed, our case is no longer of interest to our political leaders," Kangindé added.

"They seem more concerned with preparations for the elections [due in 2016] and the fight against Boko Haram. The churches are abandoned to their fate."

Beside the property damage, Islamic mobs killed at least 10 people during the rampage back in January. The attacks sought to punish Christians for the cartoons published by French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo — despite the fact that Hebdo is a secular magazine that has openly mocked Christians and is no way affiliated with any churches.

Hebdo itself suffered a terror attack in January in its offices in Paris, when Islamic gunmen shot down 12 of its workers for the Muhammad drawings.

Niger's churches have been trying to survive and rebuild since the attacks, but it has proven to be a hard task, added Rev. Zakaria Jadi of the Salama church in the capital's northern district of Bani Fandou 2.

"It is a blow to our church. For nearly a month, there was neither water nor electricity. We have done our best to allow our worship activities to restart, but we have now reached our limit. The reconstruction work may probably take some time," Jadi said.

The pastor lost both his house and his church on the same day, and spoke of the pain he felt coming back to Salama to see the damage.

"I felt very bad, such an indescribable feeling when I saw my ripped-up Bible on the ground. For a pastor, it was like my entire life was torn apart. I could not stop shedding tears," he added.

Jadi said, however, that he has sought to move on: "It was truly hurting, but I was well supported by brothers and sisters who have encouraged me a lot. And I received my greatest encouragement from God, he has really strengthened me in order to overcome that ordeal. And he also allowed me to support those who were in tears."

Dozens of churches burned in Niger by Muslim group

March 12, 2015
Alabama Baptist

NIAMEY, Niger — At least 68 churches, two of which were Baptist, have been burned in the West African country of Niger.

Panlieba Tchalieni, president of the Union of Evangelical Baptist Churches of Niger, reported that the church burnings, carried out by Muslim extremist group Boko Haram, occurred in the Zinder region and Niamey.

“In terms of Baptist churches in Niger, we have two churches that are burned: the first evangelical church in Niger built in 1928 and another behind the Niger River built 15 years ago,” Tchalieni said.
Boko Haram, a Nigerian-based radical jihadist group that seeks to establish Sharia law, has extended its activities to other countries in West Africa, including Niger, where it has carried out recent attacks in the southeast.

Thousands of civilians fled their homes in the southeastern Niger town of Diffa. The area was already under stress, providing refuge to some 150,000 people who crossed the border to escape the violence in northern Nigeria.

Niger, which shares much of its southern border with Nigeria, declared a 15-day state of emergency in Diffa after a series of attacks by Boko Haram.

Kojo Amo of Ghana, chairman of the western region of the All Africa Baptist Fellowship, appealed for prayer and support for the Christian church in Niger. “Please let us remember Christians in Niger in our prayers that the Lord will strengthen them in the faith during this difficult time.”

Niger protests over Charlie Hebdo Prophet Mohammed cartoon leaves four dead and 45 injured

Clashes between protesters and security forces leave dozens injured, national radio reports, as one Catholic and two Protestant churches were attacked

16 Jan 2015

Four people were killed and 45 injured in a day of violent protests in Niger's second city against French magazine Charlie Hebdo's publication of a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed.

Massaoudou Hassoumi, the interior minister, said a policeman and three civilians died in Friday's disturbances in Zinder in which three churches were ransacked and the French cultural centre was burned down.

Thousands of protesters gathered outside mosques after Friday prayers to vent anger at the depiction of the prophet, which is considered taboo to most Muslims.

Twenty-two members of the security forces and 23 protesters were hurt in the ensuing clashes, national radio reported, as one Catholic and two Protestant churches were attacked.

A doctor in the city's hospital told AFP that all of the dead and three of the injured had gunshot wounds.

Niger sees first slavery conviction over 'fifth wife'

28 May 2014

The pressure group Anti-Slavery International told the BBC the 63-year-old man was convicted of having what is known as a "fifth wife".

Men in Niger are allowed to have four wives under a local interpretation of Islamic law.

With a "fifth wife", no marriage takes place and the woman is treated solely as property.
Sarah Mathewson
Anti-Slavery International

Niger officially banned slavery in 2003 but anti-slavery organisations say thousands of people still live in subjugation.
The conviction took place in the town of Birnin Konni in south-west Niger, close to the border with Nigeria.

Anti-Slavery International says "fifth wives" are often girls of slave descent sold to wealthy men who view the purchase of young women as a sign of prestige.

The women face a lifetime of physical and psychological abuse and forced labour, the group says.

The case was taken to court by Anti-Slavery's partners in Niger, Timidria.

Sarah Mathewson, Africa Programme Co-ordinator at Anti-Slavery International, said it was "incredible" to achieve a conviction.

"It's been over 10 years since the law against slavery was passed in Niger and we've worked since then to bring perpetrators of slavery to justice," she said.

"We hope that this judgment will serve as a catalyst for more prosecutions, as we are pursuing many other cases before the courts."

In a landmark case in 2008, the West African regional body Ecowas found Niger's government guilty of failing to protect a woman from slavery. It ordered the government to pay compensation to the victim.

Twin Bomb Attacks Kill 20 in Niger

By DREW HINSHAW in Accra, Ghana and GÉRALDINE AMIEL in Paris
The Wall Street Journal

May 2013

Suicide bombers killed 20 people in separate attacks on a military base and a uranium-mining site in Niger on Thursday, with government officials saying the twin strikes were likely the work of militants from Mali.

The attacks underline the risk that multiple Islamic wars in the Sahara could spill over into previously peaceful Niger.

Just before dawn on Thursday, a vehicle drove into a barracks in the remote and centuries-old trading town of Agadez, exploding and killing 19 soldiers there while injuring more than a dozen, said government spokesman Marou Amadou. The government was seeking more information on whether some soldiers were taken hostages by militants in the town, Mr. Amadou said.

French nuclear-engineering company Areva SA AREVA.FR -3.80% said its uranium mine in Arlit, about 100 miles north of Agadez, was also attacked by a car bomb early Thursday, killing one of its employees and wounding 14 others.

The U.S. military has been considering Agadez as a possible base to fly the surveillance drones it deployed to Niger earlier this year as part of a broader international effort to search for and fight al Qaeda and other Islamist guerrilla fighters in North and West Africa.

Areva, which has been a target for Islamist kidnappings and attacks over the past three years, said Niger authorities would reinforce security around its production sites. Areva has been mining uranium in the former French colony for the past 40 years.

Niger's presidency was meeting Thursday to discuss how soldiers would help protect the country's vast uranium mines, said Ousmane Toudou, media aide to President Mahamadou Issoufou. Uranium accounts for roughly a third of the country's exports, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Officials in the presidency suspect the bombers came from the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa, Mr. Toudou added.

That small group of Malian fundamentalists spent 2012 imposing strict Islamic law on Mali's north. When French soldiers moved into northern Mali in January and February, the Islamist rebels fled, but have since returned to stage periodic attacks on Malian towns.

Niger, meanwhile, has enjoyed a period of peace and economic growth in recent years, even as three of its neighbors—Nigeria, Mali and Libya—have erupted in war since 2011.

Earlier this month, the government of a fourth neighbor, Chad, said it had quashed a coup attempt. Last week, southern neighbor Nigeria said it was shutting much of its border with Niger and sending thousands of troops into the border areas in pursuit of a an Islamic insurgency called Boko Haram.

"Niger is in the middle of all these problems," said Mr. Amadou.

Niger has also posted troops along its other borders to help stop the flow of militants and arms coming in and out of Mali and Libya. But securing country borders across the vast Sahara remains difficult, analysts say.

Niger is a strategic site for Areva, which has 2,700 employees and 5,000 subcontractors in the country. Niger accounted for about one-third of the group's uranium output last year.

One Areva employee and three workers of French construction company Vinci SA, DG.FR -2.00% who were kidnapped in Niger in late 2010, are still being held hostages by al Qaeda-affiliated militants in the Sahara region.