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|Tikatizyane Gender Action Group.© ABM/Beth Snedden 2013|
Petauke is the nearest large town to the villages of Mawanda, Msanzala and Koloso; more than 40 kms by dirt road. The Zambia Anglican Church has worked with these villages to establish three Gender Action Groups: Tikatizyane, Tikondane, and Tithandizane. Altogether there are 49 volunteers involved in these groups – with 11 men and 38 women, and of the 17 leadership roles 82% are filled by women.
Gender Action Groups (GAG) have been trained in gender, gender equality, anti-gender based violence, inheritance and human rights, education for women, child protection, etc.. They move from village-to-village sensitising communities these issues, promoting their messages through the use of drama, songs and stories, and conducting focus group discussions.
These volunteer GAGs live in poor areas of eastern Zambia and are provided with a means to earn an income part-time, while conducting awareness activities the remainder of their week. Each group has been trained in leadership, entrepreneurship, business planning, basic finance, and development, how to partner with local government, and action planning, and now have successful income generation projects: raising pigs, goats and chickens.
Women in these communities are expressing their feeling of empowerment, commenting about how freeing it was for them to be permitted to read and write. Mrs Rosemary Luwanda proudly stood and declared that now she was learning to read and write and she has the goal of becoming the first female councillor from her area.
Following gender and rights training, Patrick Sakali, the vice-chairperson of a GAG says: “I immediately went home and shared the knowledge of women and children’s rights with my wife and children, and am now able to assist my wife with her house chores”.
Mrs Zulu said that she initially relied financially solely on her husband but after accessing a small loan through her GAG she has planted, harvested and sold 114 bags of maize. This has improved her confidence and the quality of life for her family.
Others talked about their surprise to learn they had a right to vote and to obtain a National Registration Card. Women learnt they were permitted to obtain an education, and the community has informally started two adult literacy classes run by some local retired teachers.
These communities are reporting changes in village attitudes with women taking up community leadership roles, enabled to assertively speak out and have equal decision-making rights, and a decline in wife beating.