Dialogue between women and men in projects

Today, International Women’s Day is celebrated all over the world. It is all about women’s rights issues and it is an important day for Dorcas.
In Egypt, Dorcas country director Mona Wisse fights for women’s rights throughout the entire year and she actively celebrates International Women’s Day. She says: ‘we want to give women a sense of self-worth and self-confidence. Many men in our society have a wrong image of women. There is a lot of violence and sexual violation going on. Boys and girls grow up with this image and you cannot change this by merely focusing on the women. Men and boys must be actively involved in our projects.’

Respect for culture
Women are subordinated in most of the countries Dorcas is currently operating in. That is why it is so important to talk about these issues. Marije Bijvoet, Dorcas program coordinator in the Netherlands says: ‘it’s important for Dorcas that our projects can play a role in equality between men and women while respecting the roles both genders may have in their cultures’. Dorcas includes gender related problems in its projects. Issues such as inequality between boys and girls in education, girls who marry at a young age and get children, violation of girls within families and female genital mutilation are taken into account. When project activities are organised, daily schedules of both men and women is taken into account so that everyone can take part in the training sessions.

Shared responsibility
In Tanzania, women are usually responsible for collecting water, because they cook, wash, and take care of the family. Dorcas has carefully selected an approach in which men and women take responsibility for the development of their community together. ‘In order to talk with men and women at the same time, it is important that the topic at hand is relevant for both. In Tanzania we look for topics women are often held responsible for (such as collecting water) and make them relevant for men (in this case: opportunities to generate income by digging out water sources). This mutual interest creates mutual responsibility and it increases understanding between women and men in the community. Together, they are encouraged to decide what is best for everyone.

Lasting change
Dorcas projects are designed to be sustainable. Mona says: ‘We want women to experience that they are valuable and special. The projects allow them to experience this and they can pass this on to their children. This facilitates long-lasting change in families and communities’.

08 March 2016

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