A Dasenech woman grinds by hand the grain that she will use to prepare her family’s meal. This is a task she spends 2 to 3 hours on, every day. Despite her work load, she is finding the time to participate in our women’s strengthening project now underway in the Guerenarema community.
Our project seeks to improve economic empowerment and stability for the women in this underserved community, where there are no schools, no health facilities, and no community-based organizations promoting microenterprise. We are not focusing only on the women, however. A group of men and women are coming together twice a week to learn to read, write, and do basic arithmetic. And in the process, they learn to make decisions together.
In these traditional communities, women do bulk do the bulk of the physical work—fetching water, carrying heavy loads, grinding grain. When we work with communities to empower women, they learn how to form a cooperative to operate a grinding mill and rural trading center. The cooperative will save hours of productive time each day for all of the women in the community. Time that would otherwise be spending grinding grain by hand or walking miles to the nearest trading center.
Our experience with women cooperatives has shown us that as they contribute to the overall economic vitality of the community, they also improve status of the women as valued community members. The women gain productive time, and they gain a voice in matters that affect their well-being and their families’ well-being.