Peace Corps Volunteers Ride Across Senegal

“Tour des Femmes” Event Supports Women’s Health and Education

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 13, 2003—In honor of National Women’s History Month, Peace Corps volunteers joined a group of Senegalese women in a ride through Senegal. The “Tour des Femmes” bike tour was founded as an example of women’s capabilities in Senegal.

Peace Corps Senegal held its second annual “Tour des Femmes” bike tour from January 23-29, 2003. The “Tour des Femmes” is a seven-day bike tour covering over 200 kilometers to promote girl’s education and health in Senegal. The tour begins in Tambacounda and takes the volunteers and accompanying riders through some of the most underdeveloped regions in the country, finally ending in Kolda.

The first “Tour des Femmes” was held in March 2002. Often only men are taught how to ride a bike, and therefore, are able to leave the village. Village populations found it difficult to believe it was only women riding the 240 km tour. Founders hope to inspire empowerment and encourage women to explore their potential.

Six Senegalese women and a Senegalese theatre and dance troupe, Les Ambassadeurs du Fouladou Pakao, joined the volunteers on the tour to assist in educational presentations. Each morning the riders traveled 25 kilometers into a village where they conducted presentations about the benefits of girls’ education, AIDS awareness, and family health. Les Ambassadeurs performed
musical and theatrical pieces based on these themes. In addition to the presentations school supplies were given away. The event was funded by a grant provided by USAID.

The organizers of the “Tour des Femmes” chose women’s health and education as their theme because of the vital role women play in Senegalese culture. They manage the home, generate income, provide healthcare, preserve traditions, and educate the coming generations; therefore, the education of women is crucial to ensure successful development of the entire population of Senegal.

The Peace Corps began work in Senegal in 1963, and since then, 2,512 volunteers have worked in the country. Volunteers focus their efforts in the areas of agriculture, business development, environment, and health. Volunteers train healthcare workers in disease prevention, work to create sustainable agricultural techniques, teach environmental awareness, and help to develop effective marketing information systems and improve organizational and financial management practices for small businesses.

Since 1961, more than 168,000 volunteers have served in the Peace Corps, working in such diverse fields as education, health, HIV/AIDS education and awareness, information technology, business development, the environment, and agriculture. Peace Corps Volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a two-year commitment.

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