Aïssata Kane, also fondly known as “Yaye Kadia” (Mother Kadia), was a feminist with a lifelong committment in advocating for African and especially Mauritanian women’s rights.
In her career as a politician, she was appointed Minister of Family Protection and Social Affairs in 1975, the first time a woman held such a position and in which Aïssata fervently worked to improve the status of women in her country.
This work included advancing girls’ and women’s education, fighting against the practice of force-feeding of young women, lobbying for an inclusion of a marital rights provision, and advocating for a female representation quota to be created in the Parliament.
“[Aïssata] realized all her passions with humility, courage and determination. She didn’t want to disturb anyone by her fight on all these fronts at the same time.” Ball Halimata Dem, Aïssata’s niece
She founded the National Union of Women of Mauritania (UNFM), co-creating and publishing Marienou for them, a magazine dedicated to the emancipation of Mauritanian women. Aïssata also directed several sub-regional and local organizations, including as the President of the International Association of Francophone Women (AIFF) and as a resolute ecologist, she was President of the Association for the Protection of the Environment in Mauritania (APEM).
In 2018 she received the Pioneer Woman Award. It honors her work in advancing Mauritania’s women’s status and recognizes her strong leadership and sense of innovation.