He Helped Lead A Women's Revolution In His Country

two black men standing in front of a map
Via Flickr
Adé Hennis
October 5, 2023

In August 1983, the National Council for the Revolution (CNR) initiated a coup d’état to overthrow the previous regime in Burkina Faso. The nation knew exactly who they wanted as their new leader, so they traveled to their local prison to free one of Africa's biggest feminists.

Thomas Sankara made it his mission to help make the country of Burkina Faso a better place. He implemented plans for reforestation, land development, improving education and healthcare, ending corruption, and also creating better women’s rights.

On March 8, 1987, in celebration of International Women’s Day, Sankara spoke in front of several thousand women. “The revolution's promises are already a reality for men. But for women, they are still merely a rumor. And yet the authenticity and the future of our revolution depend on women.”

Under Sankara’s presidential regime, polygamy, forced marriages, and female genital cutting were outlawed. He also appointed women to government positions and was the first among African governments to recruit women into the military. He understood that it was much more about supporting women, but also placing them in positions of power, so that they’re equipped to make more systemic changes in the nation.

We’ve already shown that we can protect our own, but Sankara showed that there’s always more Black men can do to help create safer spaces for Black women.