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Linda Mayoux, International Consultant

Let me share some personal reflections on the Forum on Empowerment through Household Methodologies,  jointly organized by IFAD, Oxfam and Hivos (Rome, 27-29 June 2016). This  was a wonderful opportunity to meet both old and new friends working with Household Methodologies (HHM). The enthusiasm and commitment of participants was high – inspired by our common vision of greater happiness and understanding between women, men and youth, and the greater wealth and wellbeing that can be experienced in households across the world. More than 80 participants from Africa, Asia, Europe, North America and Australasia shared their experience and considerable achievements in inspiring and supporting men as well as women to change gender inequalities that are constraining their lives.

The underlying message is that changing gender inequalities is not only essential for poverty reduction and democracy. Challenging gender inequality can open up a new and more fun world for all, young and old,  as they discover new ways to be themselves and to relate to each other, at all levels.

As many of the poster sessions of the different HHM processes demonstrated men and women of all ages coming together around a new and constructive vision for themselves and their families. This includes recognition of women’s right to achieve their full economic, social and political potential – including special attention to girls. Men of all ages can also change, enjoying more love and respect. The presentations countered some of the concerns within IFAD and elsewhere – demonstrating that support for people at household level is not ‘risky busybody interference’ in private lives, but a way of helping men and women to address personal and relational blockages to achieving what they want from life.

Participants presented the many ways in which they have used and adapted the basic Gender Action Learning for Sustainability (GALS) tools – Visioning, Vision Journeys, Gender Balance Trees, Gender Diamonds, Gender Challenge Action Trees and Change Leadership Maps. Experience shows that within a relatively short time, household analysis of gender inequalities can lead to fundamental change in tangibles like division of work, land ownership, business management, co-operative leadership and policy changes.

The Forum enabled a more complete assessment of the number of people involved in different types of HHM – estimated at over 130,000. This figure does not includethe very many more people reached indirectly through peer sharing and informal organizational ‘osmosis’.

Participants discussed not only how women, men and their families and communities benefit, but also private sector companies, financial service providers and local economies. Local and national governments are also increasingly seeing the possibilities and benefits for change, and the way GALS tools can help their work and the democratic process.

In order to make a really significant impact on global gender inequalities household methodologies need to reach not thousands of people but millions. This means new ways of inspiring large numbers of women and men for change, new concepts of leadership, and different organizational models. Building a movement at this scale cannot be achieved through conventional top down Training of Trainers dissemination unless budgets are extremely large and organizations are already strong, participatory and have sufficient staff time. This is extremely rare and even then unlikely to be the most cost-effective or sustainable approach.

The model I proposed at the Forum was a more dynamic ‘headless’ model, drawing in part on new business and mobilization models - capable of constant self-replication, self-regeneration, innovation and growth in response to changing energies and needs at different levels. But this dynamic model also requires an even deeper ‘reversal’ of power between implementing agencies and women and men at community level. It also implies a somewhat different role for service providers and ‘experts’ within the process.

First the amoebas who are sparking self-generating change at community level: The main promoters and ‘beneficiaries’ for HHM like GALS are the many champion ’amoeba’ – women and men implementing their own personal gender changes within their existing and new support networks in their own communities and organizations.

Second the hydras: Everyone is a leader. Scale is best achieved through inspiration and example and encouraging as many people as possible at all levels to become leaders of change in whatever effective ways they discover, and exchange their ideas and experiences. Existing leaders come and go, and are often very busy. So I proposed a much more ‘headless hydra model’ where organization springs up where energies appear, where everyone is free to get up and move without consulting ‘authorities’.

Finally the busy spiders  –  ‘brokers’ in leadership terminology: Individuals and/or organizations who make their webs to provide linkages between different processes and levels. Spiders include not only champions and HHM practitioners, but also people who provide openings and linkages between HHM and other established networks. 

It was intended that this Forum would provide a basis for starting networking at various levels.  We all left with happy memories of 80+ Forum friends  and hope to meet again soon – at least in cyberspace!!!

Key links GALS (Gender Action Learning for Sustainability) resources and processes I am involved with:
http://www.galsatscale.net for GALS toolkits and resources
http://www.gamechangenetwork.org (blog with links to my GALS partners and processes and people involved in other like-minded gender mainstreaming initiatives)
http://www.zemniimages.com/GameChangeNetwork (for high resolution photos) 

Clare Bishop-Sambrook, Lead Technical Specialist (Gender and Social Inclusion), Policy and Technical Advisory Division

Two years ago I would not have been confident to write a short blog on the Joint Programme on the economic empowerment of rural women (RWEE).  The RWEE is a global initiative jointly implemented by FAO, IFAD, UN Women and WFP in seven countries, whose overarching goal is to secure rural women's livelihoods and rights in the context of sustainable development.

Two years ago, I would have been able to tell you how the idea was first mooted by Michelle Bachelet, the then head of UN Women. In 2011 she challenged the heads of the Rome-based agencies to work together to support the economic empowerment of rural women. I would have described how the technical staff in each agency worked together to develop the concept into a programme with four outcome areas and seven implementing countries, and engaged UNDP’s multi-partner trust fund office to manage any monies that the JP would receive.

I could have talked about preliminary activities at country level. The agencies- working with relevant government  departments - conducted a needs assessment of rural women and mapped ongoing activities, comparative advantages of each agency and potential synergies.  Individual country programmes were developed and validated at multi-stakeholder workshops.

But I couldn’t have told you about any activities on the ground because we had no dedicated funds.

Despite doing what agencies recognise as good practice and donors urge us to do – namely working together, as set out in the Paris Declaration of 2005 – we found it extremely difficult to raise funds. We held well-attended launches in New York and Rome in 2013 but it was not until WFP hosted a large fund raising event in 2014 that we were finally successful. Norway stepped in with US$1.6 million contribution, soon followed by SIDA with US$15 million to be disbursed over three years. At last things were able to happen in earnest at country and community level. In addition, the Ethiopia also raised an additional US$1.5 million from the Sustainable Development Goals Fund. Still this is far from the original goal of US$35 million.

What have been the early achievements?
The key results achieved in 2015 include:
·    - 3,500 women trained on improved agricultural technologies
·    - 2,000 women organised in cooperatives
·    - 1,750 women accessed financial services
·      over 1,000 women linked to home-grown school feeding programmes
·    - 5,200 women received business development support for income-generation
·    - 650 women leaders participated in national rural women’s conferences for advocacy purposes
·    - 8,000 people attended sensitization campaign on women’s rights.

The impact of the programme is more than just about increased productivity and increased incomes. It is also about improvements in the quality of people’s lives  – not just for the women participating in the RWEE in terms of increased self-confidence and dignity – but also their family members.

What has contributed to effective implementation?
Several factors have contributed to successful implementation:
  • Drawing on the specialist experiences of each agency: IFAD has supported the use of the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI) – an innovative tool for baseline studies and impact assessments - in Guatemala and Niger (with FAO), household methodologies in Rwanda and Kyrgyzstan, and rural finance in Ethiopia. FAO has focused on Dimtra listening clubs and agricultural technologies; WFP on purchase for progress; and UN Women on women’s leadership and policy dialogue.
  • National ownership: This has been promoted since the beginning of the programme through consultation with stakeholders at the country level, alignment with national priorities, and a governance structure that facilitates the flow of information and better coordination among national partners.
  • Using the same entry points and layering activities: Rather than spreading interventions across a wide group of beneficiaries, the JP decided to deepen impact by using the same entry point in a given region, such as self-help groups, rural savings and lending groups, Dimitra listening clubs – and layering different activities on same set of beneficiaries.
  • Hiring global and national coordinators: They work on behalf of the whole programme, seeing activities in the whole rather through the perspective of one specific agency (see box 2). They are supported at global and national levels by steering committees and technical advisory groups. At HQ level, the programme is supported not only by the gender teams but also partnerships and resource mobilization staff and communications teams. Knowledge sharing and south-south exchanges are an important element of the implementation process.
  • Flexibility: Within the framework of the four outcome areas, have been able to be flexible at the national level to respond to specific needs and priorities, such as the Ebola crisis in Liberia, drought in Ethiopia and gender-based violence in Kyrgyzstan.
  • Working with men: Men have been actively involved in the design and implementation of the interventions through awareness raising campaigns and the utilization of innovative methodologies that aim at addressing power relationships within the communities (Dimitra clubs and the “HeforShe” campaign) and households (household methodologies).

Comments by Jipara Turmamatova, National coordinator of JP in Kyrgyzstan
I wear two hats: as national JP coordinator and UN Women programme manager. It took me time to differentiate between the two and to learn how to coordinate and adopt a whole programme perspective. I am delighted to work in the team of committed professionals from the partner agencies. We have made a great progress in becoming a joint programme, going through challenges, regardless of individual agencies' mandates and interests, and joining efforts to work through the same entry point of women's self-help groups.
Rural women face a range of challenges in their everyday life, and we cannot put aside some aspects - such as violence, security or reproductive health - and only focus on productivity or other interventions. It takes a joint approach to address these multiple dimensions as a whole, complementing each other's interventions.
We are also very happy that other development actors have started using the JP as a platform for reaching rural women, such as UNFPA with its messages on maternal health. 

What next?
As the outgoing chairperson of the international steering committee and technical advisory group I am acutely aware of the need to raise extra funds. The present money will take us until the end of 2017, but even then activities are limited by the small size of the pot (supporting activities across seven countries and among four agencies). Indeed, some countries have already completed their available funds for 2016. It is estimated there is a funding gap of around UD15 million based on estimates of what country teams would wish to achieve over the next two years.

This year we have held side events during the Commission on the Status of Women in New York (March) and the EU development days in Brussels (June). The photo shows members of the JP team meeting with the Network for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment of the permanent representatives in Rome in June for a very fruitful discussion (see the photo below). Other events planned for 2016 include a side event at CFS with the Gender Network (October) and another at the high level event on rural women being organized by the Slovak presidency of the EU (November).

And my final thought?
We have mechanisms in place which are proving effective in delivering a joint programme producing tangible benefits for rural women. Lessons can be learned about inter-agency cooperation modalities and innovative approaches; the findings can be shared beyond the four agencies and partners to contribute to the SDG dialogue and improve the outcomes.

With approximately 18,000 women and their households directly benefitting from the JP RWEE and a governance mechanism fully operational at the global and national level, the programme has the potential to be scaled-up to additional 50,000 women if further contributions are received.

JP team meeting with the Network for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment of the permanent representatives in IFAD HQ

Media charity tve is launching its seventh annual biomovies competition. As part of this, IFAD is sponsoring the Short Film Competition strand on Family Farmers. Entrants are invited to send in their ideas for a one-minute film in this category. 

The overall theme for tvebiomovies 2016 is planetary boundaries, about living within the earth’s limits. The competition is about you, sharing your ideas of the actions we must take, the ways we must live and how we must value the planet we share.

tvebiomovies 2016 is now open and the deadline for entries is 23:00 GMT on 19 August.

There are four challenges in tvebiomovies 2016:

The Global Youth Video Competition on Climate Change asks for three-minute video diaries of actions you are taking to address climate change or to raise public awareness.

The short film competition seeks proposals for a one-minute film in five categories: biodiversity, forests, family farmers, recycling, and oceans and seas.

Use your Minecraft skills to enter their Connect4Climate Sustainable Worlds competition to design an environmental habitat.

Post a short 30-second video to Instagram about how you save water with the #stopthatdrop competition.

Anyone participating in tvebiomovies can submit their entry via the website at biomovies.tve.org. Rural youth are especially encouraged to enter. You don’t need expensive video equipment– just one good idea and a basic camera to record it! This is a chance to share your perspective and address how issues like environmental degradation, biodiversity loss or climate change are affecting your family or community.

Biomovies 2016 is also supported by the Deutsche Bundestiftung Umwelt (DBU), the Lighthouse Foundation, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), United Nations Development Programme, the Global Environment Facility, and Connect4Climate.