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Burkina Faso : Monique Ilboudo, the human rights novelist

Monique Ilboudo is a lawyer and women’s rights activist from Burkina Faso, but also a novelist who is committed to human rights through her writing. She is the author of the novel « Carrefour des veuves », published in 2020 and presented at the international publishing and book fair of Rabat, which closed its doors last Sunday.

Considered Burkina Faso’s first novelist, Monique Ilboudo is known for her activism in favour of human rights, especially women’s rights through her novels, poetry and essays. Her commitment also stems from her career as a jurist and lawyer, as well as a politician who has held positions as diplomat, minister and secretary of state.

In 1992, she published her first novel, ‘Le Mal de Peau’, about rape and the quest for identity, which won the Grand Prix de l’Imprimerie Nationale for Best Novel. In 2000, after taking part in a writing residency in Kigali, Rwanda in 1998, she published her 2nd novel, ‘Murerakete’, a retelling of the tragic events of the Rwandan genocide.

In 2006, she published an essay, « Right of citizenship : being a woman in Burkina Faso », and in 2018 she wrote a new novel, « So distant from my life », this time tackling the issue of immigration. In 2020, she published her latest novel, « Carrefour des veuves ». A work of fiction that reflects on the place of women in the context of terrorism, but also on the fragility of populations faced with the scourges of jihadism in Burkina Faso and the Sahel.

She is also the author of Nyamirambo: collection of poems, published in 2000.

A rich political career

With a degree in private law from the Sorbonne, she began her career in the early 90s as a lecturer at the University of Ouagadougou, while also taking up writing. In 1992, she created and ran a column entitled ‘Féminin pluriel’ in the daily newspaper L’Observatoire Paalga.

At the same time, she founded the Observatory on the Status of Burkinabe Women, named ‘Qui-Vive’, and was one of the founding members of the Higher Council of Information in her country in the 1990s. In 2000, she was appointed Secretary of State for the Promotion of Human Rights, and in 2002, Minister for the Promotion of Human Rights. She was subsequently appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Burkina Faso to the Nordic and Baltic countries.