Ndiague Faye: the "Toubab" bringing together governors and the people they govern
Ndiague Faye, 34, has gathered an impressive collection of qualifications and fieldwork assignments. Referred to as "future minister" or "toubab" [mould-breaker] by her nearest and dearest, she is driven by representative governance and female leadership.
Profile by Emmanuel de Solère Stintzy.
Ndiague Faye: 34 years old and with qualifications coming out of her ears! Having passed her baccalaureate with a distinction and the top grade at her examination centre, she was awarded a scholarship by the Senegalese government to study in Morocco. She went on to earn an associate degree and bachelor's degree in public law specialising in international relations from Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah University in Fez and a master's degree and advanced degree in political science from Gaston Berger University (GBU) in Saint-Louis, Senegal.
"Ndiague showed remarkable maturity and discipline and made relevant contributions. She caught people's attention as she stood out without trying to," sums up her former teacher, Maurice Soudieck Dione, associate professor at GBU.
It is hardly surprising, then, that Ndiague, who is currently studying for a PhD in political science, has various nicknames that have followed her since childhood. "Due to her intellect, she was known as the 'toubab' or mould-breaker of the family. It is thanks to her that I am studying in Canada. Ndiague is just like our late father, a man who invested in the education of his children," says Samba Faye, her younger brother.
Her older sister reminisces: "As an engineer, our father was the only one in our family who had studied at university. Both he and my mother encouraged us a lot. Back home in Diourbel (editor's note: around 150 km east of Dakar), there were very few women in decision-making roles. This also motivated me to pursue an intellectual career to ensure my independence".
"Committed, patient and very modest"
Since April 2022, Ndiague Faye has been implementing the Civil Service and Public Sector Transformation Ministry's "Doolel-Admin" project in the capacity of technical advisor for administrative reform at the German cooperation agency, GIZ. As part of her role, she shapes the participation of civil society and the private sector and her responsibilities include in particular the creation of mechanisms for promoting and maintaining women in positions of responsibility within the Senegalese government. A commitment that follows on from her former role of consultant for the "Women’s Voice and Leadership Program", a project funded by Canada. Woré Ndiaye Kandji, head of that project in Senegal and Ndiague's former boss reveals that "She was highly committed, as she comes from a region where gender-based violence (GBV) is prevalent. Ndiague has a very full head, but when she is with women from remote areas, she is patient and very modest".
Being an activist means daring to speak out and raise the alarm.
Alongside her career, driven by her belief in having a democracy that is representative of the people it governs and in the need to hold governors accountable, Ndiague Faye has developed her own project, "SAYTU" ("verify, check, measure" in Wolof), a platform for citizen monitoring of local public action, thanks to CFI's Citizen Connections 2 project: "In 2017, while conducting my surveys (Afrobarometer – Let the people have a say) on the state of democracy and political governance in Senegal, I felt frustration among citizens in remote areas where the Government was not visible in any way. SAYTU has started to take root, holding authorities to account and allowing all citizens to seek information about the work being done by their town hall. Having been well coached, I conducted surveys with local elected officials and met with other young agents of change during the CFI bootcamp held in Abidjan in 2021, with whom I have remained in touch".
Inspiring other women in civic tech
This promising project is currently negotiating with various town halls to conduct experiments in the field and online via a collaborative platform. Aisha Dabo, Programme Coordinator at AfricTivistes, is encouraging Ndiague Faye to continue her efforts: "It is inspired by our Local Open GovLab project. Her approach stood out to me, because, as a passionate and determined young woman, she will inspire others in the civic tech field. In Senegal, woman are now becoming more prominent in the government and private companies, but less so in governance".
Why? Ndiague, the peaceful lioness from the Land of Teraanga, unsheathes her claws to answer this question: "Being an activist means having the courage to speak out and raise the alarm, which are seen as very masculine traits in Senegal. I believe that women should be given more support to unlock the potential of digital technology".
In ten years…
Samba Faye, Ndiague's younger brother, thinks his sister will go far: "She has the capacity to be leading major international organisations in ten years and to be developing projects in the areas of public policy and citizen engagement". Aisha Dabo, Programme Coordinator at AfricTivistes, is equally optimistic: "Her experience in central government will help her with deployment at the local level. Her SAYTU project could cover half of Senegal by highlighting issues such as girls' secondary education".
In that regard, Woré Ndiaye Kandji, head of the "Women’s Voice and Leadership Program" in Senegal sees two possibilities for her former consultant: "She could carry the issue of gender over into her research work. If she is willing to step out of her comfort zone, I can see her providing training to women in rural areas on subjects such as social and digital entrepreneurship, economic empowerment, health, gender-based violence (GBV), education or climate change". Her former teacher, Maurice Soudieck Dione, associate professor of political science at GBU, imagines a future where Ndiague Faye "holds high office in cooperation or another organisation". Djiby Sene, a childhood friend, has a far more specific prediction: "Ndiague is a fighter! In view of her career so far, coupled with her character and her charisma, in ten years I can see her being a minister or even President of this country!"
"Minister Ndiague" to her late father, her mother and her best friend. "Ms Gender" to her colleagues... nicknames and future prospects are two things Ndiague Faye has no shortage of: "My daily mentor is Oulimata Sarr, former regional director of the UN Women office in West and Central Africa and current Minister for the Economy. I work alongside her teams. I find something comforting in following in her footsteps. I would also like to expand my SAYTU project nationally and continue to work on the issues of equality and women's development".