EU-Project: Capacity Building as a tool for more effective poverty alleviation of marginalized rural women in Zimbabwe
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Since April 2008 the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung’s Zimbabwe office is implementing together with its local partner Self Help Development Foundation the EU co-funded project “Capacity building as a tool for more effective poverty alleviation of marginalized rural women in Zimbabwe”
Since 1963 Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung’s local partner SHDF has been working on poverty reduction through the establishment of saving clubs, helping to increase rural women in Zimbabwe’s economic and social independence from their husbands. The saving clubs had been established in accordance with already existing bonding factors e.g. membership of the same church. The saving club members are trained in saving management, enabling them to save money and work more efficient through the use of common resources. Moreover, the saving clubs are a means for the women to learn to organise themselves and manage their group. In addition to this, SHDF has been training the women on self-reliance, self-help skills and income generation.
The biggest problem for the saving clubs, however, is the lack of public support structures on local and regional level. As a result successful and sustainable income generating activities are prevented. Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung and SHDF, in contrary, acknowledge the saving clubs as a structure for capacity building of rural women in Zimbabwe. The EU-funded project thus tackles the problems of the saving clubs in particular and rural women in general by an education programme enhancing their knowledge of saving club leaders and committee members on democratic participation, gender issues and women’s rights. This training programme, implemented within the framework of the saving clubs, contributes to the women’s empowerment to actively lobby for their interests (e.g. access to land ownership) as well as to participate in the local decision-making. Furthermore, the women learn how to improve their internal voting structures.
The overall objectives to which the project shall contribute are the reduction of poverty and the empowerment of rural women in Zimbabwe. The specific objective is to increase the effectiveness of poverty alleviation efforts for rural women in Zimbabwe through capacity building in the areas of women’s rights and democratic participation.
The target group consist of 2,160 savings club leaders (out of whom about 97% are women) from the Midlands and Matabeleland provinces. They have been elected by the members of the saving club movement, representing them at local, regionsal and national level. According to an approximate estimate through multiplier-effects the final beneficiaries involved amount to as many as 324,000 persons in total.
The project consists of a comprehensive programme to raise awareness and build up rural women’s capacities in the areas of women’s rights and democratic participation. The main activities are:
- Research and production of training manual, including: a baseline study on the obstacles poor rural women face when trying to influence local or regional policies; a conference to discuss the study and draft an orientation and qualification strategy including curricula; the development of a training manual on democratic participation, gender issues and women’s rights.
- Training of the saving club leaders by the SHDF staff, through a five-day training, covering basic elements of democratic attitudes, procedures and structures related to its external environment and programming. Moreover, a 10-days training session on the use of the training manual and tools to simplify and adapt the manual to the real-life needs of saving club leaders (first year) is provided.
- Review workshop for regional trainers and SHDF staff members: in a 2-day session the existing training material is adjusted to new experiences made by the trainers (second year)
- 72 workshops (5 days each, 30 participants per group, in total 2,160 participants) with case studies on women’s rights, gender issues and democracy
- 72 review workshops (3 days each, 30 participants per group, in total 2,160 participants) on saving club leaders’ experiences and case studies
In the end of these three years the project intends to have raised rural women’s awareness of women’s rights and to have increased their democratic participation so that they can more clearly analyse and better deal with adverse situations arising in their localities. Furthermore, the 2,160 female leaders have acquired the skills necessary to advocate and lobby for improved local and regional policy frameworks permitting poor rural families to pursue income generating activities and achieve higher living standards. Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung’s local partner SHDF will have strengthened its internal democratic participation mechanisms and integrated training on women’s rights and democratic participation into its standard programmes, thereby becoming a key player in lobbying for the rights of rural women on the local, regional and national level.