Celebrating Women in the Security Sector: Fatimata Myriam Vicens, President of the Burkina Faso section with the Africa Center for Strategic Studies
September 25, 2020
It is our esteemed pleasure to introduce you to one of Burkina Faso’s premiere civilian women in foreign affairs and the security sector, Ms. Fatimata Myriam Vicens, President of the Burkina Faso section with the Africa Center for Strategic Studies. Ms. Vicens has 15-years of dedicated service in foreign affairs and the security sector. She is by training a development economist. As is often the case of all great careers, it was not planned but rather purposed, and from there, it evolved. President Vicens’ professional story began in her role as Head of Department of America at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Burkina Faso, where she received training at the respected Africa Center for Strategic Studies in Washington, D.C. It was there where seeds of interest in promoting peace and security were planted, tended to, and watered through training modules for eventual harvest. Reflecting on the factors that aligned in her career to influence her actions that promoted women in the security sector, President Vicens notes that the Africa Center for Strategic Studies provided her with various intersecting trainings on Foreign Affairs, Defense, Security, Parliament, and Justice. It was the convening of both civilians and military by that entity and ministries that enabled women’s promotion and facilitated their rise during the establishment of its Burkina Faso adjunct section.
As a pioneering woman for her country in foreign affairs and the security sector, President Vicens has many memories that mark her career. The most notable was her guided tour of the national military barracks in Burkina Faso during the Flintlock operations, organized by her section of the Africa Center for Strategic Studies that enabled her to engage actively with military and civilians in a meaningful and transparent manner .
As a retiree, President Vicens finds it challenging to consider herself as such, providing all the daily new challenges that threaten peace and necessary action. In her sophisticated analysis, President Vicens believes that “In Burkina Faso, women’s participation in the security sector remains muted among civilians. At the professional level, their membership is only minimal. Ergo, in the membership pyramid, they occupy the lower end of the structure due to their low access to education.” During her regular exchanges with the younger generation, President Vicens notices a vibrant willingness for forwarding mobility with opportunities to rise to higher professional ranks and enter sectors previously unattainable for women. She recalls vividly that during the last outing of the military academy’s non-commissioned students, there was a woman with the distinguished rank of Major.
Now, in her retired capacity, this specialist in foreign affairs and the security sector shares her knowledge and expertise as a recently nominated Head of Monitoring and Evaluation with the Burkina Faso non-governmental organization la Fondation pour la sécurité du citoyen (FOSEC). In addition to that, she also serves as their steering committee member for the Sahel Road Safety Initiative project.
Looking ahead, President Vicens deems that with a more holistic paradigm shift taking place in the concept of security that will consider all cross-sectors of the economy, women will be less fearful. Their expertise will be elevated higher in areas where they excel—particularly in human security.