Crossroads' Work in Togo
In Togo, Crossroads International is working with local partners to strengthen women’s equality through increased participation in governance and to help them fight for a just, equitable and democratic society where they can live to their full potential.
They understand that, as women, they have to act in solidarity to move their situation forward. No man is going to do it for them.
- Elise Agounkey (GF2D-CRIFF)
Full Name: Togolese Republic
Population: 6.3 million (UN, 2013)
Area: 56,785 sq km (21,925 sq miles)
Major languages: French (official), local languages
Major religions: Indigenous beliefs, Christianity, Islam
Life Expectancy: 57.5 years (UN)
Monetary Unit: 1 CFA (Communauté Financière Africaine) franc = 100 centimes
Main Exports: Cocoa, phosphates, coffee, cotton
GNI per capita: US $928 (UN, 2013)
Togo gained independence from a French-administered United Nations trusteeship in 1960. Democratic elections were held following independence, but the country’s first president, Sylvano Olympius, was assassinated in a military coup in 1963.
The 1963 successor government was itself overthrown in 1967 by Étienne Eyadéma, later known as Gnassingbe Eyadema, who ruled Togo (while periodically holding elections that were either uncontested or characterized as fraudulent by the opposition and international observers) until his death in 2005.
The European Union imposed sanctions against Togo due to the installation of Faure Gnassingbe as the new leader two days after the death of the his father. Togo hastily changed its constitution to allow him to take power.
Over the years, Togo has been the target of ongoing criticism over its human rights record and political governance. Opposition parties staged strikes and civil disobedience throughout the 1990s to bring in a multi-party system. Although political parties were legalized in 1991 and a democratic constitution was adopted in 1992, the government was accused of suppressing opposition and of cheating in elections.
In 2007, Gnassingbe’s ruling Rally of the Togolese People party won elections, which were monitored and declared satisfactory by international observers.
Faure Gnassingbe was reelected as president in March 2010 with 61 per cent of the votes. Opposition candidates and parties claimed the election had been rigged. For the first time in the country's history a woman was among the seven presidential candidates; Brigitte Kafui Adjamagbo-Johnson is the head of the opposition Democratic Convention of African People party and a founding member of GF2D, a partner of Crossroads in Togo.
The last months of president's Faure Gnassingbe's second mandate were marked by several encouraging events by which the Togolese government strenghtened support for human rights: the formal ratification of a law to abolish the death penalty, the appointment of a female Constitutional Court judge and the development of a gender equality policy.
Following the return to constitutional rule and democracy in Togo, the European Union lifted sanctions. In December 2007, the EU announced the return to "full and complete" cooperation with Togo.
Between the 1970s and 1990s, phosphate mining was the main economic driving force.
Since 1990, the industry has declined due to decreases in world phosphate prices and increased foreign competition. The economy has been in a downturn for the past decade. The counrty remains the world's fourth biggest phosphate producer.
Togo depends on both commercial and subsistence agriculture, providing employment to 65 per cent of the labor force. Cocoa, coffee, and cotton together generate about 40 per cent of export earnings.
Togo’s economic decline over the past several years has reduced living standards for large segments of the population. The country ranks 159 out of 182 countries on the 2009 UN Human Development Index and is ranked 44 out of 50 least developed countries in the world. According to the World Bank, Togo’s GNI per capita is US $410.
Poverty remains widespread, affecting about 60 per cent of the population. It has deepened in rural areas, and extreme poverty exists in urban areas, including the capital. The low level of government funding has led to a decline in vital public services such as water, health and education. According to UNDP 2009 figures, the adult literacy rate in Togo is 53 per cent, with roughly half as many women as men able to read and write.
Togo's women provide the majority of labour in the country, but are a long way from equal influence in Togolese society and business.
Togo has a Ministry of Feminine Promotion and Social Protection. The Ministry along with independent women's groups and related NGOs, campaigns actively to inform women of their rights. Women’s groups have become stronger and more organized over the last few years in Togo. Several feminist non-governmental organizations are now working for the promotion of gender equality.
Women are still mostly excluded from decision-making. A husband has legal powers to restrict his wife's freedom to work or control her earnings, despite the constitution's declaration of gender equality.
Approximately 12 per cent of all girls and women have undergone Female Genital Mutilation. The constitution protects women and girls from Female Genital Mutilation and in 1998 the Government enacted a law prohibiting the practice.
The Togolese government has acknowledged the international trafficking of children, particularly girls, who are sold into various forms of indentured and exploitative arrangements, amounting at times to slavery.
Human trafficking often results in the children being taken to other West and Central African countries, especially Gabon and Nigeria, to the Middle East, or to Asia.