Equality travelling in eastern africa.jpg

Equality traveling in Eastern Africa

“in Tanzania we have all the policies, the programs, the formulations on paper. The problem is that, at the end, nothing happens. I will use the Equality Journey for this. My teams came to a big Aha-moment during the process yesterday. They understood the problem in a new way and at the end they connected it to the issue of weak institutions in their districts. Before, they were talking about the process of gender mainstreaming as something concerning “the others”, the “poor women”, that they were going to help, not as something related to themselves.“

This (not exact quotation) was said to me by Aggripina Mosha, a gender mainstreaming mentor in ICLD’s program “Gender Mainstreaming Local Democracy”, that I, Christina, had the privilege to visit in May 2018 and April 2019. I introduced and guided ten teams in using the Equality Journey in their gender mainstreaming processes. The first time we had a general introduction and review, using the tool to shape their ongoing processes. The second time was a follow up and recap, and also deepening of the process, especially the causes analyses in relation to actions, where I saw a big potential in the process reviews the teams had sent me.

We worked the whole afternoon on the causes analyses (found in step 3 in our tool), using flip chart sheets, post its and mark pens, to visualize the connection between different factors in the gender equality system around their problem solving.

The aim was double: first, to further concretize the factors. If we say, “religious beliefs”, what do we mean by that? What religious beliefs? How are they put into practice? And in what way is this preventing the women – in this case Muslim women in the Arua region in Uganda – from participating in the gender budgeting process. Is it about not being allowed to interact between the sexes outside the family? Or is it the idea that women don’t have anything to do in politics?

Or, as in another process, what “traditions” are preventing women to reach the same employment levels as men? After some talking, the team identified the recruitment process as crucial. So, could they take a closer look at it and maybe reduce the gender bias within it. Working this way, giving the norms, stereotypes and prejudices a material content, all of the groups got a deeper understanding of their problem and what they could do to fight it.

The other aim of the afternoon was to make visible how the district administration is relating to the unequal structures of society. It is easy to identify inequality in the world around you, but much more difficult to see how this is reflected in the institutions of the district, where we ourselves are active reproducing or fighting the structure. The mentors and program staff helped me in pushing the causes towards the functioning of the districts, the processes within the organization. Could we complement a “reporting/whistle blowing” function for sexual harassment, with identifying when and in what conditions it occurs in the working place? If we can, there is a possibility of preventing it from happening in the first place. Can we review our capacity building programs to better respond to the living conditions of women too?

Working like this, digging deeper into causes and closer to the processes within the organization, the participants, found ways to:

-       A more strategic and realistic approach to their process.

-       A better focus on the mandate of the organization, on short, medium and long term.

-       Develop appropriate strategies to address the problem and refine existing ones.

-       Make processes more realistic and achievable.

-       The need for complements, either by facts or by even more in-depth cause analyses.

-       Finding ways to get more people involved to understand gender mainstreaming.

-       A deeper understanding of a tool that they want to continue using in their organization.

Of course, this is valid to a different extent in different teams, they were working either in ten teams or country-wise, and discussions and hence insights were of course different in between them. But the points above are fetched from their own evaluations the following day.

As for me, this afternoon was one of the most inspiring I have experienced with the Equality Journey. The process led both me and the participants to a number of new insights on how to work strategically for increased equality in society and within the organization. I will surely come back to this later on, so stay tuned to this blog! 

Christina Ahlzén, Medida