An important element of the ZAMADZI project is to improve the gender balance in and around the Requesting Organisations (ROs). I am taking the opportunity here to give an overview of the gender related activities until now.
Throughout the project, various activities have been carried out to help improving the gender balance in and around the ROs. Information about specific projects run by the ROs can be found on the gender page.
The gender activities started with a gender scoping study carried out by KIT in May 2018. The outcomes of this study were an overview of the current gender balance at each RO and ideas how to (further) improve the gender balance.
2. First round of projects
Following this scoping study a call was opened for gender related activities at the ROs early 2019. This call gave limited direction, but mainly the question to come with ideas to improve the gender balance and the position of women in and around the ROs. Two proposals were submitted; the plans were discussed with the project leaders and in several steps we reached well funded plans for the two projects. The first project was the mestre de obras project of FEARN, which started in September 2019. In this project 30 young people, of which the majority is female, received a 3 month training in craftsmanship. In January 2020 11 of the participants concluded their training and at the moment a second cycle of the program is running. The second project was supporting girls to finish primary school carried out by ISPM. This project started in November 2019 and is supporting girls with mentorship and material to help them finish their primary school.
3. Annual meeting
While working on the detailed plans for these projects, we had our annual meeting in June 2019. During this meeting we had a session dedicated to gender, in which we discussed the type of activities the project should focus on. For this session the participants were divided into three groups: project directors, project coordinators and gender focal points. Each group discussed 4 questions:
- How do the differences between women and men…
- … influence the work environment? (for the gender focal points)
- … affect the project? (for the project coordinators)
- … affect your organisation? (for the project directors)
- Why are there not more female teachers/students at the ROs?
- What are the different roles of women and men in the communities and how does this affect the work of the ROs?
- What should be done to improve the position of women?
After the group discussions the results were plenary presented and possibilities were discussed. From the discussion followed the most important elements to focus on:
- educate people (men and women) in the communities about gender equality;
- encourage girls to continue education in engineering to get more women at ROs.
It was also agreed that running these kind of activities individually from each RO would work better than making an overarching plan for all ROs.
4. Adaption of call and second round of projects
Following the discussion during the annual meeting we decided to give more guidelines to the call, ie. a deadline for submission every 6 weeks, a maximum budget and a tentative planning for the review and possible approval of projects. This led to 3 remaining submission deadlines for 2019. In these 3 rounds 13 projects were submitted, of which 3 were granted. In addition to these 3, a good gender related proposal was submitted as action research proposal in the second call. As it was not a research proposal, we decided to move it to the gender activities, resulting in four running projects. The first project took place in December, the other projects started in February-March. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic the majority of the activities is on hold, but as soon as the situation permits, the projects will continue.
The first project is the training in gender aspects for the staff of ISPS. During this training two times twenty staff members followed the module ‘Pedagogical practices sensitive to gender and diversity’ from the faculty of education of UEM. ISPS aims to use this training to set up a gender unit at the insitute and incorporate more gender aspects in the curriculum.
The second one is a project by FEARN to encourage girls to continue their studies after finishing their secondary school, with a strong focus on studies in the field of engineering. Until now a training has been organised for 20 secondary school girls, together with local leaders and gender focal points. The next step is to set up a mentor system to further support the girls.
The third one is a training in gender aspects organised by FAGRENM for both staff of the institute and for representatives of the nearby secondary schools. Both groups will have 2 days of training and are expected to transfer the obtained knowledge to their peers after the training.
The fourth one is a community based project to improve the position of women in irrigation practices around Chimoio. This project is carried out by ISPM and uses various methods to inform the women about gender equality and teach them about certain irrigation practices.
5. Gender related training
In March 2020 the course ‘organisation of gender projects’ was planned for the gender focal points and members of the gender units of the ROs. The main objectives of this course are:
- interaction between gender focal points and exchange of experiences;
- brainstorm about how to approach specific types of projects (ie, encourage girls to continue in engineering; projects with local communities; writing/carrying out a gender policy);
- writing a good proposal for a gender activity.
Unfortunately due to the Covid-19 pandemic the course could not run as planned. In August the course ran in a slimmed, online version.
6. Final round of projects
In the original planning the call for gender activities would be opened a last time in April 2020, after the gender course to enable the participants to submit the proposal they started during the course. However, due to the postponing of the course, this had to be postponed as well. The call was opened before the course ran in August, with the deadline on 11 September. Currently the submitted proposals are being evaluated.