Mali is among the poorest countries in the world and ranks in the bottom dozen on the WPS Index. Women’s years of schooling average less than two—one of the lowest in the world. Malian women are also underrepresented in political and economic spheres. They made up less than 9 percent of the members of parliament in 2016, or less than half the regional average, despite the adoption in 2015 of a 30 percent gender quota. (The share of women in the National Assembly has even fallen, from about 10 percent in 2010.) Fewer than half of Malian women are in paid employment, compared with a regional average of 63 percent, and only 10 percent of Malian women have a financial account.
Mali’s 2012–15 armed conflict had serious ramifications for women and girls. Armed groups occupying northern regions forced women to veil, and those accused of break- ing the law were flogged and publicly stoned. Many girls were forced into marriage with members of armed groups. These types of violence have long-term repercussions, while fear of reprisals prevents women from speaking out about their experiences. The United Nations also reports that women have experienced increasingly severe poverty due to the conflict (MINUSMA n.d.).
On the positive side, women helped shape the 2015 peace agreement. The Platform for Women Leaders of Mali worked to ensure their representation in peace processes by advertising on TV and radio, sponsoring public debates, training women in conflict mediation techniques, and raising awareness of the peace agreement (UN Women 2015c). Although the situation in Mali remains tense, there are some signs of progress. Women in civil society have been vocal about their needs during the post-conflict period, lobbying decision-makers about their priorities for reconstruction (UN Women 2015c). A new land reform policy set aside 15 percent of government-managed land for women’s associations and other vulnerable groups (Coulibaly 2017).