The Musée de la Femme Henriette Bathily was inaugurated as a tribute to all women in Gorée on June 17, 1994.
The museum was founded by the Consortium of Audiovisual Communications in Africa (CCA), led by Annette Mbaye D’Erneville, supported by a group of scientists, historians and sociologists. It contributes to education, liberation, emancipation, moral and scientific arming of all Senegalese women on the paths of development.
The founder of the museum Annette Mbaye d’Erneville has not only founded the first African women’s museum, but also inspired others to do the same. Mali and Central Africa followed her example. The Canadian WM was founded by her niece. „Tata-Annette“ (aunt) or „Mere-bi“ (mother), as she is called, shows us how one single woman is able to change the world. As first female journalist in Senegal she worked for the emancipation of women for all her life. She founded the first women’s magazine and several women’s organizations, as well as the first film festival in Senegal. She was deeply involved in the development of her country. For her achievements she received the first IAWM award during the Fifth International Congress of Women’s Museum in Mexico City in 2016.
At first sight, the creation of a women’s museum might seem like a useless fantasy; but if we think about it, we know that women are at the center of all community life. Through them the life and the future of a whole community is influenced. Then the interest in a women’s museum does not have to be justified.
For 20 Years, the women’s museum was located on the island of Gorée. This original Museum was the first of its kind on the African continent. Up until today it presents its collections which illustrate all the phases of the life of Senegalese rural and urban women.
The main objective of the Henriette Bathily Women’s Museum is to unveil the place and the role of the Senegalese women in their communities, rituals, and popular and traditional arts.It opens up new point of views through field research, interviews, family collections, photographic reproductions, recordings and films, and archival consultations. The Museum’s magazines will attract the interest of nationals and foreigners and introduce them to an important aspect of Senegalese community life: the organization of society evolves around women. Another interest of the Senegalese Women’s Museum is that it allows non-Senegalese to enter the “intimacy” of the Senegalese society either for research, studies, academic work or simply to get to know the other. The Senegalese can themselves discover the specificities of other ethnic groups, of other communities, of other regions: customs and traditions varying between groups. In short, the Senegalese Women’s Museum, while being an educational and cultural structure is also a socio-economic organization.