Each month, we shine a spotlight on partners who are using budget advocacy to bring transformational change to their communities. This month, we’re highlighting Ange Zokou, a young activist in Côte d’Ivoire.
Ange is only 24 years old but is already a busy activist working with three different civil society organizations in Côte d’Ivoire to help push for greater equity for women and rid the country of corruption. She recently became involved with budget advocacy through a workshop put together by IBP and our partner in the country, Social Justice.
1. What inspired you to become involved in advocacy work?
When I was 11 years old, my grandfather was hospitalized for a heart attack and never returned home. Later on, I learned that in our hospitals, many people die because the doctor wants to have the money before treatment. My grandfather died like that.
Then, when I attended university, I heard many children of rich and powerful authorities at our school say, ‘I don’t have to take an exam, I’ll just pay to get a good grade, and after that my father will get me a place in his office.’” I had never seen that before. I was very shocked and I wanted to find a way to correct this.
2. How did you learn about budget advocacy?
IBP introduced one of the organizations I work with to budget issues through a summer workshop with other civil society organizations. It helped me see the power of coalitions and delve more deeply into how budget analysis can lead to power and real change. We learned to not just see the budget numbers, but how to find information when we need it, and how to calculate and analyze and really understand our country’s budget.
3. You are only one year into budget advocacy work. How do you see it helping you in achieving your goals for a more just society, especially for women?
I’m passionate about ensuring that more women in Côte d’Ivoire earn an education, especially in fields currently dominated by men, like engineering and politics. Women do not really have great standing in our country. This is an idea transmitted from generation to generation. Many men still think our place is in the kitchen and women are afraid to fight.
My parents encouraged me to do whatever I want to do and be whoever I want to be. I’m not afraid to fight.
After the workshop, I thought, this is not just a workshop. Now we can be organized and really do work on the budget and fight against corruption together all at the same time. I was very excited and now I just want to work, work, work!