Foreign Women in Mauritania

Video Transcript

People are not used [to] a woman in a position of power. Although she's sent by the embassy and she has all this, she's gonna have some push-back. Some civil [affairs], [I'll] give you an example, [a] vignette. I was training with this civil [affairs] unit, and one female raised her hand and she said, 'Sir, I don't understand this. When I was in Afghanistan, [men] wouldn't take money from me; I'd have to go through the interpreter or through another male.' And she said, 'Why is that?' I said, 'Because you're a female.' She said, 'Because I'm impure?' I said, 'No, it has nothing to do with purity, it has to do with [the fact that] you're a female. He's not gonna take the money from you.' She said, 'How will I mitigate that in the future?' I said, 'If he's a contractor working for you, or with you that the Army's paying for. Tell him, When you're ready to take money from me, then come back and take it from me. Until then, you're not gonna get paid." See how fast that will change.' Without having any cultural faux pas or anything.

Of course if you are to disperse money outside, that's a whole different story. Whether [reparations], whatever, whatever we do. A female humanitarian, when people are hurting, they [couldn't] care less who's giving them the help. They're not gonna push back, they're not gonna refuse that. Especially in Mauritania now, there's drought, there's famine, there [are] diseases, there are refugees coming from Mali into [Mauritania]. If we have boots on the ground [that are] female, they're not gonna give them that much [of a] hard time. If they are training the Mauritanian forces, they're not gonna get a hard time because they have directives from the top saying, 'Hey, be careful with these other people coming in. So, be on your best behavior.' And so forth."

In this video, a Mauritanian expert discusses foreign women in Mauritania.