Lieutenant Mariam Bamba Konaté: A Woman of Conviction
“We are working to build security and justice institutions which act in full compliance with the law and in the interest of the population that seeks peace and prosperity.” These words might as well have been extracted from a catchy slogan of a political party or a regional or international organisation involved in peace and security in Mali! However, they are all but a slogan. They are the free and spontaneous words of a Malian woman who expresses herself without hesitation, frankly and directly, and with great conviction. This woman is Mariam Konaté Bamba, Customs Controller at the Research and Intervention Division of the Direction of Intelligence and Customs Investigations in Bamako. A professionally-committed woman and a true patriot.
The situation that Mali, her country, has been facing in the past few years has forged the character of this woman in her forties and mother of one child. “Peace, security and development is everyone’s business. Each one of us has a role to play.” pounds this Malinké woman, born in Sebekoro/Kita in the Kayes region, who rejects the idea that Mali and Africa are doomed to a life a survival marred by instability and underdevelopment.
This rejection, which has almost become an obsession, has been nurtured by Mariam Konaté since her early childhood and has become her credo against resignation and fatalism.
In a Malian society characterized by socio-cultural barriers which restrain the sphere of action of a woman and confine her to traditional chores, it was neither given nor even expected for a woman to acquire a higher education, and much less so to hope one day to manage a team of customs officers! Despite that, after having successfully completed grammar school in a small school of Mopti-Sévaré in the northern part of Mali, Mariam, the eldest of five children, enjoys the support of her family who encourages her to pursue a secondary education and then a professional training. Far from home, in the city of Timbuktu at first, and then at the Central School for Industry, Trade and Administration (ECICA) in Bamako, in 1996 she earns a Customs Expert degree with honours. This confers her today the rank of Lieutenant in the Malian army.
Mariam Bamba Konaté reaches out to women for their active participation in the security sector reform process, insisting that “the fight for peace and stability is everybody’s business”
In March 2007, Mariam is enlisted in the Customs General Office (Direction Générale des Douanes), after successfully passing a staffing competition. The girl from Sebekoro/Kita is from now on a civil servant of the Malian state determined to play her part as a customs officer, but also as a Malian woman who can and must contribute to the peace building effort.
Aware of existing challenges, Mariam Konaté admits without hesitation that advances were achieved thanks to government efforts. But, true to herself and hardly containing her frustration, she confesses that there is a lot more work to do.
If Malians have conveyed their commitment to peace through the Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation, they now must own it to make peace a reality instead of a far-reaching objective.
This ownership process, Mariam experiences it every day in the course of her work. As a responsible and knowledgeable official, she views, for example, the implementation of the security sector reform (SSR) not only as a necessity, but also as a priority, as it will enable Mali to modernise its security and justice institutions, and strengthen the rule of law for all.
In an action that echoes Mariam’s conviction, the SSR Commissariat, in partnership with MINUSMA, has launched on May 11, the National Council for RSS in Mali which will develop, among other things, a strategy for the national reform of security and defence.
In order to fully play her role in the framework of the RSS, Mariam takes all available trainings in Security in Customs Control: Power of Customs Agents; Securing Customs revenue; Customs Investigations and Fight against Fraud; Training on UNODC kits against drug and crime; Introduction to Professional Techniques of Control and Intervention; etc. In January 2016, she is honoured with a Certificate of Achievement from the World Customs Organisation.
With such an experience and determination, our Lieutenant of the Malian army doesn’t shy away from making proposals to government authorities to help secure the success of the SSR implementation. Her initiatives include, among others, the mobilisation of resources to deliver projects of the security sector reform, and the implementation of capacity-building programmes through professional trainings.
Keeping up with her commitment as a patriotic woman, Mariam Bamba Konaté reaches out to women for their active participation in the security sector reform process, insisting that “the fight for peace and stability is everybody’s business”.
As an adept of walking, her favourite sport, Mariam knows that efforts are rewarded. Despite the many difficulties her country is going through, she wears a generous smile as she keeps great hope on the determination of her fellow countrymen in general, and Malian women in particular, to build a prosperous and peace-driven Mali.
Mariam Bamba Konate in 4 dates
Born in Sebekoro/ Kita in the Kayes Region
Admitted to the staffing competition for recruitment to a government position in the Customs Controller division
First professional assignment in the city of Bamako
Recipient of a Certificate of Achievement from the World Customs Organisation