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Burkina Faso

Gender equality is a critical issue in Burkina Faso, a landlocked country in West Africa. According to the SDG 5 Gender Index Menu, Burkina Faso has seen 'fast progress' since 2015 but levels of gender inequality still remain 'very poor' as of 2020 [1].

Gender-Based Violence

Gender-based violence (GBV) is a pervasive issue in Burkina Faso, affecting women and girls across the country. According to a survey by the National Institute of Statistics and Demography in 2015, about 76% of women aged 15 to 49 reported experiencing some form of GBV in their lifetime [2]. Additionally, 52% of women reported experiencing intimate partner violence [3]. These alarming figures demonstrate the urgent need for comprehensive measures to address GBV and protect women's rights. The prevalence of harmful practices are also high, with latest figures showing that 51% of women aged 20 to 24 years were first married or in union before age 18, and 75.8% of women and girls aged 15 to 49 have undergone FGM [4].

In May 2020, Oxfam reported that over 1 million women and girls in Burkina Faso were facing increased sexual violence, hunger and water shortage as a compounded impact of the pandemic and conflict [5].

Current Law and Policy:

In 2017, Burkina Faso suggested that certain legislative provisions relating to domestic violence were under review. However, there is no evidence of any planned amendments and the issue has not been mentioned since.

Due to patriarchal attitudes and harmful stereotypes, domestic violence is widely accepted in Burkina Faso. However, a range of measures have been adopted to address the problem. The government has: implemented a national strategy for the promotion and protection of girls (2017 - 2026), run training activities and awareness raising campaigns, launched a joint programme with UN agencies to combat violence against women and girls, established a centre for victims of gender-based violence where victims can receive counselling and support and established legal aid funds to assist female victims of violence who meet certain conditions, such as being widowed, in a position of financial instability, etc..

Legislation has also been used tackle domestic violence. In 2015, the Law on the Prevention and Repression of Violence Against Women and Girls and Support for Victims was passed. However, the Law is let down by both its a restrictive definition of ‘marital rape’ and its sporadic implementation. The legal framework dealing with gender-based violence as a whole in Burkina Faso is also very disjointed. Different forms of violence are addressed by different pieces of legislation, without an obvious link between the various laws. For instance, female genital mutilation and rape are dealt with by the Criminal Code, but marital rape by the 2015 Law.

At a 2017 meeting, CEDAW expressed its eagerness to see steps being taken to harmonise and coordinate this legislation.[6] Burkina Faso confirmed that this process was underway. Burkina Faso stated that the Criminal Code was said to be under review with the aim of including, through ratification, a number of international conventions and harmonising the legal framework. However, very little information about whether this review is still ongoing can be found. Also, at the 2017 meeting, Burkina Faso admitted that its legislation relating to marital rape was too restrictive and warranted review, but no evidence of any planned amendments can be found. 

It is difficult to tell how effective Burkina Faso’s approach to tackling domestic violence has been as there is a serious lack of statistical information. Of the few cases concerning gender-based violence that have gone to court, the Ministry of Justice, Human Rights and Civil Promotion has been unable to provide any statistics on the number of prosecutions, convictions and/or sentences. At the 2017 meeting, CEDAW raised this lack of reporting and record-keeping as an area of major concern. However, there has been very little discussion of the issue of domestic violence in Burkina Faso since 2017. 

Women in the Workplace

Women's participation in the labour force in Burkina Faso has increased over the years, but they still face significant challenges. The female labour force participation rate stood at around 45.3% of total labour force in 2022 [7]. Women are also disproportionately represented in low-paying and informal sectors, and the gender wage gap remains a concern. According to the World Bank, women in Burkina Faso earned approximately 74% of what men earned for similar work in 2020 [8]. This is attributed partly to the fact that the law does not currently mandate equal remuneration for work of equal value.

Women in Politics

While women's political representation has improved in Burkina Faso, there is still a long way to go. As of 2022, just 17% of seats in parliament are held by women [9]. Although this is a marked jump from 6% in 2021, it is still significantly lower than regional average of 26% in Sub-Saharan Africa [10]. Increasing women's political participation and leadership roles is vital for inclusive decision-making and equitable representation.

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Further Reading

[1] UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, “Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties under Article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women: Concluding Observations – Burkina Faso”, (2010), Report CEDAW/C/BFA/CO/6.



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