TC: WOMEN POVERTY & VULNERABILITY

Welcome to Senegal!

After a long trip participants from Lithuania, India & Honduras came to Ziguinchor, Senegal to have a training course on women rights called “Women poverty and vulnerability”. A warm welcoming in the local school was prepared by partner organisation “GNO FAR” – hot African sun & the rhythms of drums followed by many beautiful children dancing around. The representatives of coordinating organisation – Justinas Liaudinskas and Ieva Sakalauskaite – presented the aims of the project “Step up for Rights of Females” to the local community and officially announced the beginning of the training course.

Activities with school children

The first encounter with locals that participants had was in the local school  – acknowledging one of main reasons for unequal rights between women and men in Senegal – lack of education of girls. Girls have to abandon education due to distance to schools, early marriages and early motherhood, poverty and child labour. Human Rights Watch reports, that more than 54 percent of young mothers dropped out of school between 2011 and 2014[5] and only 15% resumed their education (read more about the literacy of the women here: https://www.female-rights.com/senegal/)

Guest Speakers

Mamadou Mane / Ingénieur agronome

Our guest speaker, Mamadou Mane, claims that Senegal is not developed in terms of gender equality. He explains that the most common violation of women rights is physical violence. In most of the cases it happens in a close environment.  There are many reasons why it is happening, one of them is that men do not communicate with women – says Mamadou – they treat women like children, they have to obey to their rules. If women do not respect the order of men, they got beaten.

The question follows – how could we foster the communication between women and men in their families? Youth workers from Senegal, Lithuania, India and Honduras were trying to understand where this starts and there were some conclusions made that it is very important to start from an early age. Men are ever taking care of households, so the first step towards a better understanding is learning how to share some tasks at home. There is a stereotype lying behind all of that – men refuse to cook and do dishes because this work is being perceived as a women duty.

Horticulture (the science and art of growing plants – fruits, vegetables, flowers, and any other cultivar) is important in Senegalese society because that is how they provide families with food (note: it is being used only for personal needs, not for selling).  Here we also see a violation of women rights because men have a right to own a land while women are still being perceived as he ones who take care of family and do not possess any property.

Fatou Cisse /  The representative of initiative “Badiène Gox”
Badiène: sister of the head of the family;
Gox: district or locality, zone of house where the populations maintain relations of common life. Read more here (FR)
Female genital mutilation (FGM) comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. Female genital mutilation has been banned in Senegal since 1999, but the practice hasn’t entirely disappeared. In Senegal it is usually done because of tradition and religious reasons even it is staten nowhere in the manuscriptures. FGM is being done illegally and it is hard to tell the real numbers, it is believed that one quarter of Senegalese women had been cut and the biggest amount of them are in Casamance region.

How FGM is being done? There are 4 major types:

  • Type 1: Often referred to as clitoridectomy, this is the partial or total removal of the clitoris (a small, sensitive and erectile part of the female genitals), and in very rare cases, only the prepuce (the fold of skin surrounding the clitoris).
  • Type 2: Often referred to as excision, this is the partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora (the inner folds of the vulva), with or without excision of the labia majora (the outer folds of skin of the vulva ).
  • Type 3: Often referred to as infibulation, this is the narrowing of the vaginal opening through the creation of a covering seal. The seal is formed by cutting and repositioning the labia minora, or labia majora, sometimes through stitching, with or without removal of the clitoris (clitoridectomy)
  • Type 4: This includes all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, e.g. pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterizing the genital area.

Deinfibulation refers to the practice of cutting open the sealed vaginal opening in a woman who has been infibulated, which is often necessary for improving health and well-being as well as to allow intercourse or to facilitate childbirth.

Fatou Cisse has been working with girls who experienced FGM, helping them to recover after this traumatic experience, supporting psychologically and medically. She shared her stories about how girls lose their trust in parents who give the permission (or in some cases even do FGM themselves). Sometimes parents even organise the celebration before the day the girl is cut without telling her, so she enjoys the party and the next day face a harsh reality. There are cases when after being cut young girl would never talk anymore. Girls face the depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and post-traumatic stress disorder. These frightening examples only represent the psychological part of the problem, when it comes to the medical harm done we can talk about immediate complications and long-term consequences.

Immediate complications can include:
  • severe pain
  • excessive bleeding (haemorrhage)
  • genital tissue swelling
  • fever
  • infections e.g., tetanus
  • urinary problems
  • wound healing problems
  • injury to surrounding genital tissue
  • shock
  • death

Source: Unicef

Long-term consequences can include:
  • urinary problems (painful urination, urinary tract infections);
  • vaginal problems (discharge, itching, bacterial vaginosis and other infections);
  • menstrual problems (painful menstruations, difficulty in passing menstrual blood, etc.);
  • scar tissue and keloid;
  • sexual problems (pain during intercourse, decreased satisfaction, etc.);
  • increased risk of childbirth complications (difficult delivery, excessive bleeding, caesarean section, need to resuscitate the baby, etc.) and newborn deaths;
  • need for later surgeries: for example, the FGM procedure that seals or narrows a vaginal opening (type 3) needs to be cut open later to allow for sexual intercourse and childbirth (deinfibulation). Sometimes genital tissue is stitched again several times, including after childbirth, hence the woman goes through repeated opening and closing procedures, further increasing both immediate and long-term risks;

Our guest speaker is not only helping the girls who experienced the FGM, but also is raising awareness about it by educating communities. She is going to talk in schools and families. There is also an initiative called “Hands off my sister”, please find a short video about it here: http://www.france24.com/en/20180305-focus-senegal-fight-female-genital-mutilation-hands-off-sister-change-mentalities

Visit to Kullimaaroo center

The center is a shelter for women and girls, victims of violence in Casamance. KULLIMAAROO center was set up by Women’s Platform for Peace in Casamance with the support of UNWOMEN.
Mainly, it aims to protect and help women and girls, victims of violence recover with its services package which includes medical care, juridical and psychosocial assistance. Personalized care and quality assistance is adapted to victims’ age and needs. A professional team trained in victims support and assistance techniques. A lawyer guides and advises victims in their procedures. KULLIMAAROO is a shelter, which takes women out of the isolation created by domestic violence. Kullimaaroo helps you take wise decisions and start appropriate proceedings. it is a place where they give you the shelter, they listen to you and inform you.

Creation of initiatives

After visiting Kullimaaroo center participants of the training course had a workshop when they were discussing the problems that girls face in the centre and try to think about the ways of how to empower them. Here are the outcomes of the discussion in groups:

1st group: SEWING MACHINES

Problem. No equipment in KULIMARO center for developing women’s hard skills;

Goal. To provide them with the necessary equipment in the center;

Action plan. We will focus on solely developing their sewing skills, since the need that was identified during the meeting in the center was specifically for sewing machines. We will do it by offering private companies to make use of the resources of the SURF project. I.e. placing ads and logos on SURF promotional materials: t-shirts, flyers, posters, videos, photo-galleries. We will focus on the social responsibility part of the project, meaning that we will offer the partner company with exposure to be positioned as a socially responsible entity, since we understand that there is no (or very little) business case for the company in Ziguinchor.

BADGE
Also extra exposure to the company/other companies willing to partner and contribute to KULIMARO would be by disseminating the “For HER!” Badge. The visual of the badge could incorporate the logo/element of the logo of the interested companies.

Also the companies could pay a certain amount as a donation for acquiring this badge. The generated income would go to the KULIMARO center.

4. Outcomes
1. Women developing their sewing skills;
2. Women being empowered and adding extra activity to their daily routine (to forget problems related to their abuse and issues of raising infants alone);
3. Center being more professional and being able to offer vocational training for the women;
4. Sustainable funding to KULIMARO through “For HER!” Badge.

2nd group: E – DUCATION

Problem: girls stop schooling because of the situation (violence, sexual abuse & early pregnancy). Being young (mostly single) moms, they are obliged to start working instead of continuing/finishing secondary education.

Goal: to provide girls with the academic background to complement their manual skills.

Action plan:
1) Finding the volunteers/interns would like to provide lessons; (For future: including seniors in educating the Senegalese girls)
2) Training for volunteers (on Intercultural communication, Senegalese context, possibly methods or creating lessons’ plans/program conducted by coordinating organization);
3) Partners – universities (to include the internship in students’ curricula; possible funding for internet);
4) Buying a laptop or small radios & headphones (depending on the final idea);
5) Providing a wi-fi;
6) Buy notebooks & pens.
• Contact partners: virtual university platform in Senegal
• School on the radio

3rd group: BRAIDING CULTURE

Context: Project Step up for rights of females (S.U.R.F.) gathered together 4 different countries and cultures from 4 different continents in Senegal to empower women in order to have equal gender rights

What? Braiding culture is an initiative, which aims at promoting crafts and services of girls’ from Kulimaro center.

Why? Girls already have the capacity and skills needed for making good quality products.
Tourists are interested in buying Senegalese items that represent both African culture and solidarity. Moreover, the possibility to support young teenage mothers makes an important added value. Thus, the initiative is the link between these two actors.

How? The brand name ‘Braiding culture’ created;

  • Online marketing
  • Visuals for online marketing prepared;
  • Instagram page created;
  • Webpage female-rights.com/braidingculture launched;
  • Physical presence/marketing
  • Stands in hotels
  • Flyers/stands in tourists information center
  • Flyers in restaurants
  • Support
  • French speaking representative/consultant is available for any further inquiries (such as online marketing, sustainable partnership…)
  • Short guide of using Instagram application and promoting items through this platform.

Implementation of the initiative “Braiding culture”

After the discussion participants had chosen one initiative – Braiding culture – and they started to implement the idea.

Work Plan for Braiding Salon

Problems:

  1.  the center has lack of finances for supporting the women;
  2.  women living in the center are not studying and working;
  3.  the women in the center does not have any trainings for hard skills.

Goal: help the women learn on how to make braids for tourists; thus, ensuring financial support afterwards.

Action Plan:
1. Get in contact with professional braiders on whether they would be interested in helping the
women in the center learn how to make the braids. This can be done by getting the
professional to make the braids for the clients to the center (and keep the money). At the
same time, the professional braider center could get promotion within our project and in the
posters.
2. Afterwards, make flyers/posters as promotional materials for tourists to be distributed in
tourists spots (hotels, sightseeing facilities, tourism centres, etc.).
3. Make partnership with the tourists spots as to place the flyers/posters in their venues.
4. Keep the professional braiders coming to the center for making the braids together with the
women of the center and split the money (price can be higher for tourists due to social
responsibility aspect and bigger purchasing power).
5. Further steps depends on the implementation of previous stages.

The teams were formed:
1. Visual Marketing Team (e.g. flyers / booklets / photos)
2. Online Marketing Team (e.g. business name, tripadvisor, forums, instagram, facebook, etc.)
3. Partnership Team for Marketing (e.g. hotels, tourism centers, restaurants, etc.);
4. Business Partnership Team (braiding salon & women center).

Buying materials for girls to make handicrafts and braids

Some of the participants went to the market to buy the necessary materials for girls to help their business grow – beads, hair extension etc.

Webpage creation

The website for the initiative was launched: www.female-rights.com/braiding

Presenting the initiative to the girls in the center

After the marketing plan was set and the materials printed out, participants came back to the center and presented everything to the girls. They explained the profit that they can make using the provided materials and a new brand name. Also, participants took some of jewelry for sell them to the tourists and promote the initiative.

Selling souvenirs in Cap Skirring

Participants had a trip to a touristic place in a small town on the Atlantic Ocean coast.
Besides enjoying the nice weather and beautiful beach, they sold the jewelry to tourists and started the initiative going!

Participants also visited the info center of Cap Skirring and left a stand with Kullimaaroo jewelry and some leaflets for promotion of the initiative Braiding culture.

Visiting Youth center

The youth center is established b Ministry of justice and security. The main goal of the center is to provide psychological, educational & cultural help to youth who committed a crime or were living in conflict areas. The center works on four main caterpillars of a life protection for children which are:

  1. Security
  2. Morality
  3. Education
  4. Health

There are 3 main fields that a child can choose: technical school, agriculture or service. The youth workers and teachers help children to gain necessary skills to start to work. However, there are many problems that the center faces: first of all, there is not enough food for children to have a balanced diet, secondly, the equipment they have is quite old and there are not enough materials for working, thirdly, the conditions for learning and working are not good as there are small classrooms without any air conditioning and it is extremely hot. Despite that, youth are motivated to learn new skills.

World café

World Café Activity method was used for discussion on the topics related to the main topic of the training course. The activity took place next to the pool so that discussions would be done in smaller groups in an informal environment. In groups, participants had 7 minutes to talk about each topic and then switch to another. A moderator of each table writes all the ideas and then presents it to others. You can read more about the special method here: http://www.co-intelligence.org/P-worldcafe.html

Here are the topics participants were discussing about:

  1. Women leaders: who are they? What should a role-model of women be like? Do you have any female role-models yourself?
  2. What are the skills that women should posses in order to have a sustainable source of income? How to best motivate them to acquire these?
  3. Have you ever been stopped from doing something because of your gender, what was it? Have you done something about it? What advice would you give in such situations for others?
  4. Youth workers: what is their role in the empowering of young women? How should they do it? Do you have any good examples?
  5. Coming to developing countries: what is the best way to approach local people and their issues in order not to look at them as objects.
  6. What inspires young girls to go after their dreams in your country? How to foster these inspirations? What stops them?

Basketball match

During the free time a friendly match between Lithuanian and African participants was held. Even if Lithuania is a country of basketball, local team showed some great moves!

Cultural nights

In the evenings, participants enjoyed discovering each others countries: four cultural nights were organised (Honduran, Lithuanian, Indian & Senegalese) where participants prepared some interesting information about their countries, made some quizzes, shared their traditional food, showed some dances, songs etc. Take a look at some pictures from the cultural nights:

Conference in school

Participants got to know about the initiative called “1 month – 1 women”. The organisers are inviting  women role-models to talk to young girls and also broadcast the conference on the radio. Inspiring women share their success stories, explain about their own experiences while reaching their goals. At the end of the year, a book/catalog of women success stories will be issued and distributed to young girls in Casamance region.

Visiting Dakar

During the last day of the training course participants went to discover the capital of Senegal – Dakar. They had some time to see the most important places around, such as African Renaissance Monument – Africa’s highest statue (even higher than Liberty Statue in New York!) which was unveiled in 2010 to commemorate Senegal’s 50 years of independence from France. Ouakam district with Mosque of the Divinity and beautiful colourful boats on the shore of the ocean. And, of course, the island of Gorée, which was the largest slave-trading centre on the African coast from the 15th to the 19th century.

Further works of SURF

In the afternoon, the reflection session of the project was held together with working on further implementation of the project. Working in the groups participants discussed about:

Group 1: “For her badge”:

– The concept of it;
– What organizations to give it for? What are the criteria?
– Marketing / branding (logo ideas / name / advertising means in Honduras, Lithuania, India, Senegal / partners)
– How to keep it sustainable after the project?
– Any other suggestions.

Group 2: “Initiatives for Equal Rights Contest”:

– What should be the criteria for the participation?
– What guidelines (if any) to give to the participants so they could be navigated in creating good ideas;
– Marketing / branding (logo ideas / name / advertising means in Honduras, Lithuania, India, Senegal / partners);
– How to get participants?
– How to keep the contest sustainable after the project.
– Any other suggestions.

Group 3 – Online training course & TC in India:

Online training course on female rights for youth workers:
– what topics should we include / concentrate on?
– What type of training materials should we include (videos, articles, case studies, etc.)?
– How to promote the course?
– Any other suggestions.

Training in India – what are the suggestions for the programme & preparation?

Friendship that will last

During the project participants were not only working on the topic, but also developed nice friendships and started beautiful intercontinental relationships.