For Nigerien women, social obligations and family, specifically having children, are highly important. In Niger - where total fertility rates are the highest in the entire world - procreation is considered a gift, the presumptive ultimate goal in a woman’s life. From their earliest years, young girls are raised to aspire to motherhood, and couples are watched expectantly for the appearance of a child within the first year of marriage. Social pressures weigh heavily on Nigerien woman, and discussion of infertility remains a decidedly taboo topic in urban and rural Nigerien society.
Aicha is a young Nigerienne filmmaker and was a proud PDev II Mobile Cinema facilitator and trainer. Since 2013, Aicha has taken her talents and committed them to the transformative power of cinema. Knowing her own country and culture in depth, Aicha uses her craft to deftly and discreetly approach taboo subjects in ways that open new space for dialogue.
In her groundbreaking documentary, L'Arbre Sans Fruit or “Barren Tree,” Aicha showcases her own challenges as a married woman without children, and opens the conversation of the social implications of infertility in Niger, and the discomfort and challenge faced by so many women. At the launch of L’Arbre Sans Fruit the audience was offered a uniquely honest narrative and a rare moment of catharsis. At the question and answer session that followed the screening, personal stories poured forth from the audience for hours, relieved and grateful for the dialogue Aicha’s film created.
According to her, “In Niger, cinema is the best way to explore social issues and raise questions. Where so many are illiterate, the cinema offers a universal language that can reach large numbers of Nigeriens.”
In 2016, Aicha was a recipient of the prestigious YALI (Young African Leaders Initiative) Fellowship from the U.S. Department of State for her civic leadership. She credited her experience with PDev II as a major reason for her YALI selection.