Thursday, March 11, 2010

Making Women Empowerment Projects Succeed

The purpose of this paper is to briefly present the success factors of the Women Empowerment Project implemented by the Adventist Development Relief Agency in Mulanje, District, Malawi.
Factors that have been critical to project performance and achievement

1. Involvement of the men and leaders One of the strategies in the project was to involve the men and the village heads. Without their participation it would not have been possible to achieve the results. The men have transferred skills to the women like leadership skills and maintenance of boreholes. In so doing, some of gender barriers that have manifested in household chores and community activities have been broken.

2. Communication within the project The communication has been of a high quality between the field staff, the field office, the ADRA office in Blantyre and ADRA Sweden. The consequence has been that the project works in conformity with the application guidelines and procedures.
3. Linkages to stakeholders The project has built and strengthened the linkages between the local communities and different change agents (such as the police, hospitals, human rights organizations). This has enabled the communities to learn more about their rights but also use the rights when violated. This approach also ensures sustainability of the interventions.

4. Service and Human Rights The project has had a clear rights base approach, at the same time, it has had a clear service delivery approach. The two quite opposite approaches have worked together to deliver a better result they would have done individually. Even though water and goat rearing have been the starting point the training in gender and human rights has been a central part of the project. Without the service activities it would not have been possible to engage the communities in a similar way. The conclusion is that you can not only talk about rights without doing anything, you have to work as well with the practical problems people cope with.

5. Innovations by the communities
The communities are exploring their own ways of economically empowering themselves by getting organized through Village Savings and Loans. This is the fund which is built by the communities themselves through savings and members access the funds periodically. The project has brought hope and aspiration for the future.

Women Empowerment Project started 2007 in Malawi with the aim of facilitating women empowerment through promotion of their rights, improvement in health status and implementation of self supporting income generating initiatives. The project targets poor vulnerable women. Main activities include: Trainings in Gender and Human Rights, Health, Water and Sanitation, Adult literacy, Home gardening and compost manure making, Provision of portable water and Goat rearing.

This paper is based on a discussion held on 2009-10-30 between Andiyesa Mhango from Adventist Development Relief Agency in Malawi and Claes Johan Alexandersson and Mikael Wiking both Swedish Mission Council.

Author: Claes Johan Alexandersson (Swedish Mission Council)

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