On the Ridge

A Woman of Influence

As a Ph.D. student working on her dissertation at Kent State University, Dr. Haoua Hamza returned to her native Niger to find out what motivated some young women to continue their educations beyond elementary school. She never imagined that, 13 years later, she would be chosen as a role model for them.

The associate professor in NU’s College of Education was selected as one of 100 influential women of Niger, and one of only seven living abroad, by a committee comprising members representing the United Nations Fund for Population, UNESCO, UNICEF, the Ministry of Population, and the Promotion of Women and the Protection of Children. Her story will be featured in an upcoming book intended to inspire young Nigerien women to pursue secondary and higher education so that they, too, can lead successful lives and make a difference for others.

This is not the first time Dr. Hamza has been part of an effort to empower Nigerien women. Several years ago, she launched the Global Network for Niger, an organization intended to connect Nigerien women with the resources they need, specifically in the areas of education, financial stability and health. This past summer, while in Niger for several weeks, Dr. Hamza brought two boxes of medical and school supplies to her hometown of Diffa, planning to donate them to the local clinic and to students at an elementary school she had visited in 2010 as a symbolic gesture assuring them she had not forgotten them.

When the mayor of Diffa learned of her intentions, he invited the governor, the regional directors of the public services, traditional chiefs, and members of the local community to a televised ceremony formalizing the contributions and publicly thanking Dr. Hamza for remembering her “sisters” in her hometown.

Although Dr. Hamza hadn’t expected that her small act would receive so much attention, she is hoping that the people of Diffa will better understand what the Global Network for Niger can do for them. “I wanted to let people know that someone from this town went as far as she can go but still comes back to help,” she says.

For more information on the Global Network for Niger, visit www.theglobalnetworkniger.net.