The impact of our work can be seen in the bold and compelling way that communities and organisations are expressing their change in attitudes and thinking.
Increased access to quality education for rural girls and boys from poor homes
Over 2000 girls and 500 boys have been supported to complete various levels of education and to acquire leadership skills. Over 5000 women have also been equipped with public life, political campaigning, advocacy and decision-making skills.
Increased inclusion of the voices and concerns of women and girls in all plans and decisions
Women constitute between 30 - 40% of all community meetings at which they actively participate. This is a marked improvement over the 0-10% participation rates before CENSUDI. Women are enabled to prepare their input at meetings and also to lead meetings. At the preparatory sessions, women practice public speaking, negotiation and confidence building. Sex, age and disability segmentation during community meetings enable all voices to be heard at community wide decision making.
Gender and inclusiveness sessions with men make them more receptive to women’s contribution at community meetings. Men’s receptivity and respect boost the morale of women and girls who contribute their best for the greater good.
Community Action Plans address key issues of gender discrimination and human rights abuses. These activities are budgeted for so that funds can be mobilized for their implementation.
Increased participation of women in politics
For the 2010 elections, CENSUDI supported twenty-seven (27) female candidates from thirteen (13) communities for the positions of Unit Committees and Assemblypersons. Of the eleven (11) women who contested to be Assemblywomen - (3) three won and of the sixteen (16) women who sought positions in Unit Committees, nine (9) won.
These figures represent 200% and 800% increases in the participation of women in local government structures in these communities. Beyond numbers, the greater impact of the 2010 effort can be seen in the following.
• Communities are much more knowledgeable about the importance of women’s participation on politics
• Many more women confidently became candidates rather than docile voters
• Husbands and male relatives give passionate support to their wives and sisters who were candidates
• Committed and excited community elders and men nominate and support female candidates
Community Action Plans influence Medium Term Development Policies
In 2009 all 5 District Assemblies (Local Councils) in the Upper East region requested Community Action Plans facilitated by CENSUDI, for inclusion in their Medium Term Development Plans (MTDP). The reasons for this request included:
• An appreciation of the comprehensive manner in which the needs and concerns of women, children and the poor are articulated in the plans
• Men’s willingness to include these voices and their genuine desire to implement the activities
Written policies reduce harmful cultural practices and promote accountability
Sixteen (16) communities have developed bylaws to address TRAPPDAW. Most customary laws are not documented but handed down over time by word of mouth. This has caused endless re-interpretations and abuses. Documenting them through the promulgation of guidelines/by-laws designed through participatory and inclusive processes is already reducing human rights abuses. Implementation of written guidelines and by-laws is reducing expenditures of traditional courtship, marriages, funerals and other social activities. Savings from these have been reallocated to food and girls’ educational activities. The network of gender advocacy communities (CODRIGAM) is now lobbying local councils to adopt their bylaws for wider implementation.
Land access for women improves productivity, reduces hunger and women’s workload
Sharing of land with women and girls has increased productivity up to 100% in some communities. In two of the communities, men are leasing fertile land to their wives and female relatives for periods of between 20 and 40 years. CENSUDI is assisting these men and women with sustainable agricultural and post harvest management practices. These measures have reduced the hunger gap by 2 months in participating households.
Additionally, the sharing of domestic and child rearing activities between women and men has improved women’s health conditions and their effective participation in decision-making.
Establishment of Community Based Anti Violence Teams (COMBATS) reduce gender based violence cases
Communities have set up COMBATS that we have trained to use enhanced traditional methods to address domestic and gender based violence. 80% of all violence cases are reported to and handled by the COMBATS. 50% of mental and psychological abuse have been resolved. DV cases have also reduced by 30%.
Once women and poor people successfully negotiate with men and customary leaders for time, respect, power sharing and control of resources, the next step is to finance the actual implementation of practical projects that then produce tangible results. Lack of funds for this stage results in a loss of morale for the women and reduced trust by communities in our ability to help them sustain the change they have started to experience.
Our 2010 end of year meeting with communities discussed this at length and decided that communities must take the lead in addressing this constraint as a demonstration of their desire to sustain their work beyond their relationship with CENSUDI. These communities decided to invest in what they believe in before asking others to come forward to help them. The meeting therefore agreed to create a fund to which all their community members at home and in the diaspora would contribute. The little that they contribute would then be used to leverage additional resources from external sources.
The meeting concluded “even though we are poor, we know from one of the stories about Jesus that a poor widow’s mite is very much appreciated by God in Heaven, who showers her with more blessings. In the same vein, we too are contributing our mites to promote human rights and by so doing reduce poverty in our communities.” The fund was therefore christened Mites for Rights or Mites4Rights. The fund will support practical activities that address human rights abuses and eliminate unfair discrimination.
The twenty-five (25) communities at the meeting also became a coalition to strengthen their voices and thereby leverage more support. This network is the Community Driven Gender Advocacy Movement (CODRIGAM)
CENSUDI Approach Summary
• Dialogue and sensitisation
• Consciousness raising
• Knowledge gathering and sharing
• Mobilizing community members
• Encouraging female leadership
• Including of persons with disabilities
• Including of all age groups-especially the young and the aged
• Collaborating with men, the current gate keepers and power lords
• Documentation and communication
• Powering the grassroots advocacy in a decentralised framework