May 2018 GALS
SOUTH, KIVU– Growing sustainable gender equity requires education, and fair access to education relies on gender equity. Which is why we’re excited our 2017-18 gender equity project with Congolese coffee communities has begun its GALS training stage.
As you read this, incredible collaboration is happening at the local level through the Gender Action Learning System (GALS). Husbands and wives are developing the skills to work cohesively and peacefully together. Communities are learning new tools to grow and prosper. This work is at the very core of our ongoing support for Congolese coffee farming families.
Gender Action Learning System
“[GALS] is a community-led empowerment methodology using specific participatory processes and diagram tools which aims to give women as well as men more control over their lives as the basis for individual, household, community and organisational development.” – Linda Mayoux, Women’s Economic Empowerment Mainstreaming and Networking (WEMAN) programme.
This simple, but powerful program uses simple mapping and diagrams to help husbands and wives understand new ways to plan for the future and how to grow their familiy together.
The hope of On the Ground and others is that GALS training will increase both shared financial decision making and labor equity within the coffee farming families we serve. Women will no longer be noticeably absent and removed from the coffee sales which sustain their families–despite performing a majority of home and farm labor.
In addition to greater community development, this could also open the door to more female leadership within local coffee cooperatives, especially in the Muungano Coffee Coop with whom we work closely.
No Strangers to GALS in Action
In past years, OTG has supported TWIN Tradings GALS workshops, which helped spread the methodology’s tools out to Congolese communities.
However, time and time again our Congolese team heard from families we partner with that the educational disparity between men and women remained a barrier to real equity. The truth became clear: GALS alone, without increased education for women, is not a solution to inequity.
This realization led to the creation of our current year-long education collaboration with four Congolese coffee communities, of which GALS is only one part.
In April 2018, after nearly 6 months of basic education for our 100 students, we began working the GALS methodology into our project.
Step one was to hire former GALS Champions–graduates of the program turned trainers–to help instruct our Monitors.
Led by Herman, our education team is now beginning to train wives and husbands on the gender equity tools in the GALS program. This process will continue for several months. The GALS champions will also make site visits to offer additional guidance.
This GALS training, while critical, also comes with a price. It means adding more weight to the already heavy load the women participating in this program must carry. In addition to the GALS work, their regular education classes will only increase in difficulty as the year continues. Neither will work at home and in the field does stop while they learn.
Despite the challenges which lay ahead for our students, we know that they have already overcome so much in their lives. Their strength and resilience serves as a testament that sustainable change is possible through determination. And of course education and equity.
The project is being supported by old friends and new allies, all of whom are committed to supporting coffee farming communities break the cycle of unsustainability and poverty. If you’d like to support this effort and create life-changing impacts in the lives of Congolese coffee farming families, please consider making a gift today. Thank you in advance for your generosity!