“What does it take to motivate a project team to move from reaching women to empowering them in the context of project implementation?”
This question guided the virtual discussion at Gender Week in March, which was implemented by the team of the Global Project Employment in Rural Areas with Focus on Youth and its country projects Burkina Faso, Kenya, Malawi and Mozambique.
The journey from reaching women in project implementation all the way to empowering them starts with a process of reflection and discussion within the project team itself. Only if team members are sensitized, promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment amongst the project target groups becomes a possibility. In this case, the target group are young men and women looking for job opportunities in rural areas.
To start this discussion, the gender focal points of the four country projects and the steering unit jointly developed an interactive hands-on activity for Gender Week 2021.
Gender Week’s aim was to go beyond only raising awareness on gender-related aspects by challenging gender stereotypes within the team, especially in relation to the project’s target group.
To open the floor for a creative exchange the project set up a virtual platform on which all team members shared contributions and thoughts throughout the Gender Week, guided by one lead question and a hashtag every day. The questions reflected on gender aspects with their diverse facets, focusing on personal and project levels while putting a special remark to the target group, country context and the challenges arising due to the current COVID-19 situation.
- Monday: #choosetochallenge What gendered impacts has/had COVID-19 around the world (especially in the country projects) and how can we use the phase of recovery as an opportunity?
- Tuesday: #thefutureisfemale What does women empowerment mean to you personally?
- Wednesday: #womensrightsarehumanrights Why is women empowerment crucial for (youth) employment and thus for our project?
- Thursday: #EachForEqual What are classic roles and typical stereotypes that need to be overcome to empower our target group and how?
- Friday: #genderequality Where do women successfully use/have made use of opportunities and innovation to foster their livelihoods and how can this inspire us?
Guided by the questions, an inspiring exchange on gender equality, gender sensitivity and gender transformative approaches emerged. Insights from the virtual platform are shared in Figure 1 and 2.
As an important takeaway, the team identified key aspects, which will be taken up in upcoming gender training and workshops conducted by the project, where gender strategies will be developed by and for the four country projects.
- Have a closer look at the different impacts of COVID-19 on our target group and increase resilience in our project work to build back better.
- Empower and enable women through facilitating access to resources such as land, finance and education, through the promotion of women agri-preneurship and moreover, through strengthening women’s self-respect, autonomy and confidence in every aspect of project work.
- Particularly focus on and sensitise men and women on women’s stake in productivity, not only in the agricultural sector but as key economic drivers.
The gender week has strengthened the team’s enthusiasm and ownership for the topic and was a first important step towards thinking about gender in daily work and thus move from reach to empower women across all project activities.