Mrs / Mss Non-Unemployed (Challenge)
Last week, the world celebrated women, their achievements and successes. But also according to the United Nations, it is a day to think about women’s rights and empowerment, creating a space that gives them access to opportunities to develop themselves.
I grew up in a culture that denied women access to employment, instead making them financially and economically dependant on men. Such a culture makes women even more vulnerable to having their rights violated because of such dependancy and are thus unable to self-develop in any aspect.
As I am travelling to different countries of West and Central Africa for the Faces2Hearts program, I encounter many projects whose target is to make women self-reliable, training them in different trades and techniques, giving them a chance to either have or even create employment for themselves and their society in general.
I want to quickly take you to one of such projects I visited a week ago in Ivory Coast. It is called PROFORME, and is implemented by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), funded by the European Union. When the project started, it had a unique mission of ensuring a vocational integration of 2,500 young people and 2,500 ex-combatants, with a goal of their sustainable reintegration into the socio-economic in Ivory Coast. This is mainly done through professional vocational training and establishing training centres around the country. 7 cohorts of training were done since November 2012 till March 2017. And for the 8th cohort, that is where the magic happened.
For the 8th cohort of training, the project’s scope was slightly changed. The skills training concerned agriculture and animal husbandry. But this time round, the focus was put on women. Started in September 2017, and still running, this cohort counts 72% of women, and they are trained in professional farming techniques of crops like cassava, pepper, eggplant and bananas, and poultry farming.
Four School-farms were created in 4 villages of Dabou region, and at each school, women learn professional techniques to farm. Such techniques help in increasing the yield of the fields, but also help in managing the production, turning farming into a profitable business. Some of these women have already been farming before, but this has been a whole new experience for them, as I can tell from their testimonies.
“Being part of this programme has been a very useful for me. I used to own a field of cassava. Afterwards, I left my village and moved to Dabou leaving my crops behind. But when I joined this group, I gained hope that I can farm again. I learned techniques that I had never heard of such as how to prepare seedbeds. I feel very motivated and I am soon starting my garden back at home, with a proper goal of making it a real business,” Beugré told me
“Apart from learning new things, I like the way we are trained to work in groups. It makes work less easier and less tiring, yet more efficient than if I was working alone. From the skills I learned here, I was able to renovate my field back at home” Esmel, one of the trainees says.
Who like chicken? Well, I do. Indeed, an other group is trained in poultry farming. I got there right at the moment of classes, and I was surprised by how technical the skills they were learning are. It almost sounded like Mathematics. Women, with their male colleagues were learning about different techniques about preparation of farm space for poultry, feeding quantity calculations and so on.
“The main reason that pushed to come to learn poultry farming was because I like chicken. But when I arrived, with the courses that are delivered here, I knew this was also supposed to help me to finally be able to make an income with a goal of becoming autonomous. I will never forget the day the first chicks arrived. It felt very nice and I knew this was going to be my business from that very day”- Lath Hylane says
“Many women here are not interested in poultry. Yet, chicken is very consumed in Ivory Cost, which proves that this is a sure business. When I finish the training I want to start a business of selling chicken, and I will thus be able to make money to pay for my kids school fees.” – Tede Therese says
I was very curious to know what is going to happen once the training ends. But I was told that in addition to courses in agricultural and poultry techniques, beneficiaries receive courses on financial management, marketing, simplified accounting and cooperative management that will enable them to set up poultry groups in their respective villages. These groupings will subsequently integrate the cooperatives that will be set up in the coming weeks in order to better organize the marketing of the production of these training courses.
A world that respects rights of women is a world that ensures their access to Employment which is the only way women can become active in developing themselves financially and of course contributing to the economy of their families and their society’s. And I am pretty optimistic that the battle is already being fought, with initiatives like this one being put in place.