Today is International Women’s Day - a chance to celebrate progress and reflect on what still needs to happen.
The priority of women has become a central concern when we talk about development, but when it comes to reconciliation and peacemaking we are still asking, ‘Where are the Women?’
When the UN tells us that if women are involved in peace processes the likelihood of long-term success increases by 20%, it is worth looking at where the women are in our projects. As we know at CHIPS, what is talked about at the top level must be happening at the grassroots if change is going to be sustainable and systemic.
For the last three years, our team in Ghana have run Animal Rearing Groups with women from the Nanumba and Konkomba tribes in Nakpayilli and surrounding areas. The women regularly meet to discuss the health of their livestock and to share the animals to increase each family's herd.
Now that these women are working together, these groups have facilitated a new source of revenue: "Susu". Collectors give small micro-loans and a safe and secure place to save and access their own money, making money-management and planning possible. Familes are able to invest in their land, market stalls, or animals and so build revenue whilst they save for the future.
This makes good economic sense: communities learning about markets and building small businesses and profitable farm land. But it also shows how far the relationships in the community have come - they are trusting their hard-earned money to a former enemy, who is enabling them to build a better and more sustainable future. Communities are bringing themselves out of poverty by trusting in each other.
Once these groups are established and empowered, the women take it in the direction that they want, with many of them using the benefits they gain to help their children to stay in school, to have enough nutritious food, and overall to improve the life of the whole community for a generation to come.
Susu collection in Lungni