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As part of the WISE project implementation, challenging negative gender norms and stereotypes as well as empowering both men and women to actively participate in household chores and child care is a significant aspect. Nine males, husbands of women in the saving groups who demonstrate positive masculinity, were selected by the women themselves. These men, known as the male champions, were encouraged, through a series of training and awareness campaigns, to embrace more equitable and balanced roles within their families and communities.

Sibdoo Issahaku is one of the male champions at Kuglogu within the Tolon district in the Northern region and is trained to use his position as a man and influence to advocate for women’s economic empowerment. He is married to two wives and has eight children, five males and three females. The name Sibdoo has become synonymous with a supportive husband in the Kuglogu community. Through the project, he has been able to overcome all forms of stigma and name-calling to be a supportive partner, something that is a gnarly practice in his community.

Though hesitant in the beginning, Sibdoo attended some trainings organized by Urbanet’s WISE team and was introduced to the concept of shared responsibilities and the importance of supporting women in daily tasks. Through group discussions, role-playing exercises, and testimonies from other community members, He questioned his beliefs on gender roles.

“After receiving the training from the WISE team on partner and women’s economic empowerment, I decided to make use of the information. I started with my children, asking the males to support their sisters. Initially, they were reluctant to do that because their colleagues started calling them names. But with persistence, they are now comfortable doing all chores in the household. Whenever any of my wives delay at the market, I sweep the compound and, with the support of my children, cook for the entire family. Now my family is happier and healthier than before, and other men are now imitating me because they are seeing a difference now,” says Sibdoo.

Thanks to the WISE project and the efforts of project officers and Sibdoo’s personal growth, the Kuglogu community gradually witnessed a cultural shift, promoting gender equality and empowering individuals to challenge limiting beliefs. Sibdoo and others’ story has become a testament to the power of change and the strength of the community in creating a brighter and more inclusive future for all.

In June, 51 participants were selected across the five operational districts of the WISE project to compete in a pitch competition in Sunyani to earn a spot in the final pitch. Eleven participants were chosen in the end to compete for the final pitch. Out of these participants under URBANET, four were selected from the Tolon and Kumbungu districts in the Northern Region.

The final competition, which came off on September 18, was organized by the Association of Ghana Industry (AGI) for the eleven participants to compete for the first, second, and third positions. The competition was meant to challenge these mentees across the five operational districts to pitch their business ideas in order to gain support in developing them.

At the end of the competition, two mentees under URBANET’s WISE team won the second and third positions and were awarded a cash prize to support their businesses. In second place, Madam Meli Mohammed, from Yipeilnaayili in the Kumbungu district, who specialises in beekeeping and honey making, was awarded Ghc20,000. In second place, Madam Gifty Adam, a soybean processor from Chanzegu, also under the Kumbungu district, was awarded Ghc10,000. The other two, Madam Martha Alhassan and Madam Ama Ibrahim, from the Tolon district, had the fourth and seventh positions, respectively. They were awarded Ghc2000 each, by the NPIIA Manager at Plan International Ghana, Mr. Eric Ayaaba for their efforts.

These women, amongst other mentees under URBANET, have shown immense enthusiasm for growing themselves and improving their businesses over the past three years, and it’s no surprise that Madam Meli and Madam Gifty made it this far. For this reason, URBANET will continue to guide and support them in their respective journeys. It is the core mandate of the organisation to support women’s growth and livelihood and enable them to be economically empowered, and that is the path it will take.

For the last three years, the WISE project has supported women farmers and aggregators to ensure they are economically empowered and have improved well-being and inclusive economic growth. Selected women farmers have been provided the necessary support to increase farm yield, ranging from improved soybean seeds for planting, ploughing their fields, and providing inoculants. Aside from the support for soybean production, the project has also introduced some of these women to green businesses, including mushroom, snail, and honey production.

The WISE project goes beyond supporting women to become economically capable. The project also prioritises the nutritional well-being of the communities, especially women and children. To ensure this, the WISE project team at URBANET organised a two-day Food Exhibition and Nutritional training with the help of a few experts.

The two-day programme was executed in two communities within the Tolon and Kumbungu districts in the Northern Region, with over thirty participants participating in each community. These participants were selected to represent the various communities in which the project is being executed. The key purpose of the training was to ensure that women were able to initiate businesses by adding value to the raw products they produced or harvested. It was also aimed at introducing the women to the various ways they could utilise their produce and transform it into meals that are nutritionally beneficial for them. The major food products that were used in the training included soybeans and mushrooms, as these two are the major foods produced by a majority of these amazing women.

The main aspect of the event was taking the women through how they could incorporate soybeans and mushrooms into various meals to enhance their nutritional status. They were taken through the preparation of both local foods that are common in their households and healthy paps for the infants. Some of the meals included soybean kebab (as a substitute for meat), soymilk, “tuubani”, mushroom pap, “tombrown”, and some mushroom beverages, amongst others. As important as it is for these women to adopt these nutritional ways of feeding, they were encouraged to use this as an opportunity to start a business venture and make use of previous training on branding and marketing to grow them.