With a total of 33 presidential candidates in Benin’s presidential elections, Marie Elise Gbedo is one of the contenders in the race that will be decided on March 6.
The 62 years old lawyer is out in the streets of Cotonou, capital of Benin trying to woo voters to support her bid.
This is her fourth attempt to contest for the country’s top seat. In 2001, she only manged to get 1 percent of the votes but she is now hoping that her election manifesto to eradicate youths unemployment and corruption will steer her ambitions among voters.
“I have come up with a manifesto that I call the 5E of Marie Elise Gbedo; where I intend to provide reliable electricity, youth employment, promote entrepreneurship and support entrepreneurs. I will also seek to improve the ease of doing business and overhaul the education system, which has failed,” she added.
She admits of difficulties in steering her ambitions with the country’s male dominated politicians who have always sidelined her for being incapable of leading because she is a woman.
“When Marie Elise put her name forward, there was a barrier that came up. People were told, don’t listen to that woman. A woman can never be a leader. That’s the fight that I face today. In this situation, no one wants to take into account my achievements or the fact that I am capable, all because I am a woman,” she said.
But the former minister of commerce is determined to show that women can even do it better when given the chance.
Around 5 million voters are expected to take part in the exercise as this year’s elections has attracted the state’s top businessmen.
Analysts have described the 2016 elections as a keen fight and as a wide open contest.
The incumbent president has led Benin since 2006 and has been barred from running for a third term as a result of constitutional restrictions.