East Africa is not within my normal area of supervision, but Nema Aluku, a colleague there, asked that I co-facilitate two workshops dealing with gender mainstreaming. At its most basic, mainstreaming means making sure that all of our programs take into consideration the impacts – positive and negative – on both men and women, recognizing that both are image-bearers of God.
The workshop was designed to teach the staff and board of partner organizations, along with local community facilitators, how to use simple analysis tools at the community level and share basic concepts of what it means to be an image-bearer. After learning how to carry out the investigation activities, the participants went to communities to apply their skills with groups of men and women. Once they had discussed the results separately, the groups came together to compare what they had found.
Some lively discussions resulted from those exhanges, but the goal of the facilitators is to have the groups define “What do we want to change?” and “How will we carry out those changes?” One community found a big disparity in the amount of “leisure” time available for men and women – the men had 4-6 hours more than women. Since the conservation agrigulture program they are planning requires a lot of manual labor, they decided to share that chore rather than expect women to do all the “digging” as is their custom. The challenge will be to follow-up on the decision.
Although I’ve facilitated this training in the past, actual application of the concepts has been hit or miss, so Nema and I added a “staff” day to the end of each workshop to analyze the data that was gathered in the communities and guide them in adjusting next year’s plans to follow up on the community decisions. Now we pray that the programs planned for this new fiscal year will respect both men and women as God’s image-bearers.
Latin America Team Leader
World Renew Honduras