Statement by
African Women Professionals
of Cinema, Television and Video
Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

After fifty years of cinematographic production and twenty-five years of televisual production, how many women are involved? What positions do they occupy and what roles do they play?

After fifty years of cinematographic production and twenty-five years after televisual realization, what images of African women are shown to women of the continent, and how much have the latter contributed in supervisory positions?

After a half-century of cinematographic production and a quarter-century of televisual productions, how many pioneers are there? And where are those female pioneers and film directors who could have been in a position to give their own vision of the world?

The African women's workshop held within the framework of the 12th edition of FESPACO in Ouagadougou from 25 to 27 February 1991 gathered together a diversity of African film, television and video professional.

They came from various African countries and frame the Black diaspora: Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Ghana, South Africa, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Benin, Tunisia, Cameroon, Niger, Côte d'Ivoire, Mali, Rwanda, Congo, Morocco and Chad.

These women fulfill the functions of editors, camerawomen, directors and producer of televisual programs, video-makers, film-makers, distributors, television co-producers, producers, actresses.

But even after fifty years of cinematographic productions and twenty-five years of televisual production, though they fulfill various functions in cinema and television, the analysis of African women's situation during this workshop has emphasized their insignificant number in audiovisual professions and their difficulty in getting access to training and funds.

It is evident from the testimonies presented over these last three days that even when a woman wants to work in cinema and television professions she is often advised to stick to the latter because they suit her better as they require an attention to detail which is believed to be specifically part of women's character.

So half a century after the beginning of African cinema, a quarter of a century after those of television, the position of women in the various posts in cinematographic and televisual production is far from being satisfactory! Far from being up to the challenge of the third millennium.

And if this situation continues the cinematographic and televisual industry's growth, and even its development, could be hampered.

For if images produced by African women do not give another view of African women's reality, then there is a great risk that women themselves, because they are the main educators of children—the citizens of tomorrow—will not be able to show an alternative vision of the world.

Fifty years after the beginning of cinema, twenty-five years after that of television, inequalities and obstacles still persist.

In 1991, almost ten years before the year 2000, African women are still victims of pressures at their place of work, and exploited both as women and as professionals.

In 1991, almost ten years before the third millennium, because they are deprived of their citizenship rights, their access to cinema and television professions remains selective, discriminatory and minimal!

Nevertheless, in 1991, African professional women of cinema and television and video decided to meet in order to exchange their views, to create a framework for free expression, to elaborate an action program to speed up their integration at all the levels of the reproduction process of cinema and television.

A half-century after the birth of cinema, a quarter of a century after that of television, about fifty women from various areas of the continent, fifty women of different political, religious and philosophical backgrounds united for the sake of their professional requirements to express their will to struggle unflinchingly:

- to put forward their female vision of the world;

- to have a controlling position on their images.

They decided to set up a working group, a program of action, in order to continue the action of a few isolated pioneers so that in the future, in the year 2000, there are 10, 50, 100…1,000 of them and more in the professions of cinema and television.

They called on funding and commissioning organization from the South and the North, on institutions and associations to give their active, constructive, and collaborative support for the development of their projects.

They know that a mobilisation of funds, of human resources, from the South and the North, and mainly women's determination, initiative and responsibility may help to overcome the obstacles!

The working panel is made up of the following members: Aminata Ouédraogo (Burkina Faso), director-producer; Grace Kanyua (Kenya), director-producer; Juanita Ageh-Waterman (Nigeria/London), actress; Alexandra Akoto Duah (Ghana), actress; Seipati Bulane-Hopa (South Africa), director-distributor; Chantal Bagilishya (Rwanda/Paris), distributor; Rose-Elise Mengue-Bekale (Gabon), editor; Kahena Attila (Tunisia), editor.

Hommage aux femmes Africaines professionelles du cinéma/Hommage to African women professionals in cinema