Incoming: Bio Bienvenu from the National University of Benin

Bio Bienvenu Boni is a PhD student carrying out a co-tutelle between the University of Bordeaux and the National University of Benin. From December 2016 to April 2017, he was based at COMPTRASEC, the Center for Comparative Labor and Social Security Law.

What is the topic of your co-tutelle? 

I am writing a thesis on the multidisciplinary theme of knowledge, social law and more specifically working rights, human rights, the promotion of equality and the fight against racism.

In Benin, disabled persons are often victims of discrimination (Bio Bienvenu is blind). This discrimination concerns all fundamental rights but in particular, freedom within work and the right to work, both of which are guaranteed by the Beninese Constitution. The private and the public sector are equally concerned. The figures speak for themselves: the rate of unemployment for disabled people is 95.5%.

There is some hope with certain recent decisions taken by the legal system. However, there is still a far way to go to ensure the right to work for handicapped people. Therefore, I figure that there is no better time for a young blind African to research and write on the topic. The title of my thesis is “Handicap and Work – a study comparing French and Beninese juridical systems” and it is based on a comparison of systems – which is why a co-tutelle is the perfect format. 

Why did you choose to carry out a co-tutelle with the University of Bordeaux?

The University of Bordeaux was the ideal place to carry out my research. The lengthy and challenging process to validate my project only further increased my motivation to come. Once accepted, I had to consider the technical and technological means available for a visually impaired person completing a thesis - a factor of fundamental importance in order to succeed. In this case, the technological progress of France, and the University of Bordeaux in particular, to guide handicapped people is inspirational. Finally, the city of Bordeaux leads an effective internationalization policy with Africa and this enriches general word of mouth – a basic means of communication in Africa. Bordeaux’s prestige, the high-quality of its education and the openness of its society is well known. This is what explains my presence in Bordeaux as well as the presence of many other Africans who seek a positive academic and professional education.

What were your project objectives during your period here in Bordeaux?

For this first stay at the University of Bordeaux, my three main aims were:

  • Carry out documented research via data and digital collections;
  • Elaborate concise, thematic reading summaries on a range of key documents in order to better understand the rights of those with disabilities, the fight against discrimination and, more generally, French labor law;
  • Complete an initial problematization of the subject to prepare the choice of a plan for the second year

I am confident that these goals will be reached thanks to a fairly smooth research process thanks largely to the support provided along the way by the University of Bordeaux. My research laboratory (“Centre de Droit Comparé du travail et de la sécurité sociale”, COMPTRASEC) allocated me with a computer sufficiently equipped to give me partial access to documents. I also hope to benefit from a device that is adapted to my visual handicap and that could consequently be used by other blind students and researchers at the university. Most of all, I am happy with my stay at COMPTRASEC due to the strong and close relationships between students, especially between PhD students – it has been a source of great encouragement for my hard work. Without the daily help of my counterparts, things would have been a great deal more complicated. I owe them a lot.

What were your impressions of the University of Bordeaux, the people, the city? 

Outside of the University, I also have a positive impression. I do not walk more than 100 meters in this city without someone offering their guidance. Another great aspect about the city is the many outdoor cultural animations that attract crowds of fun-seekers!  This was very new for me. Such events do not happen in Africa or in Benin. One cannot come to Bordeaux without constantly thinking of returning. That is why my return to the University of Bordeaux will be soon and my stay, a lot longer.

Updated on 21/09/2021