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As part of the GESI activities for year 3 of the GROW2 project, our GESI office, with support from the MEDA GESI team, organized a community dialogue on gender equitable workload within households within the Lingbinsi community in the North Gonja district. This activity was a result of the rate of gender gaps in terms of domestic work, access to economic opportunities, and the inability of couples to make decisions together.

This engagement was meant to serve as a platform for awareness creation on gender equitable workloads and pave the way for women to have enough time to engage in economic activities. The gender equity workload ensures a fair distribution of unpaid care work within households, intending to reduce time poverty amongst women and household burdens. The redistribution allows men to understand the effects of unpaid care work on women and girls, hence, increasing their support for them.

The gender module families who participated in the event shared their experiences on how the redistribution of workload within their households has impacted them positively. Women from these families or households have established businesses with the help of their spouses due to the availability of time. Participation in household decision-making has also promoted peaceful coexistence between spouses and co-wives and a good understanding of their children’s needs.

This initiative has fostered peace within households, thereby reducing the cases of SGBVs, improving economic stability, proper dietary and nutritional health, and increasing focus on children’s education and well-being, amongst others. A gender equality champion (GEC) who participated in the dialogue intimated that “equitable distribution of responsibilities and resources is the beginning of peace, unity, and good health at the household level’”.

The Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) officer at Urbanet has, under the GROW2 project, commenced a series of pieces of training on the Gender Action Learning System (GALS) in various communities in the operational zones of the GROW2 project. The training will include selected couples within these communities and village agents, who will later transfer the knowledge learned to others within and outside the community.

The Gender Action Learning System is a community-led empowerment methodology that uses specific participatory processes and diagram tools that aim at giving women as well as men more control over their lives and resources. Couples and clients will be introduced to setting goals, making active decisions, and planning towards achieving these goals. The component takes participants through the processes involved in goal setting, identifying challenges or obstacles that hinder the success of the goals they set for themselves, and how to mitigate these challenges.

Participants in this training are guided to understand the concepts of goal setting, effective decision-making, and planning strategies that foster the achievement of these goals. And with the help of illustrations, they can draw out their visions, and schedule for goals, opportunities, challenges, and targets. They are made to identify on their own how they can achieve these goals using existing resources and opportunities and controlling challenges.

The primary focus of these activities is to first empower these women, to be able to take charge and create an environment that aligns with the future they want for themselves and their communities. And secondly, ensure that couples and households can make collective decisions that foster growth within and outside their household. It is also meant to address the issue of gender and social injustice in economic development by using an inclusive and participatory process, which in itself is an empowerment strategy.

Since the inception of the Gender Module Family (GMF) within the various communities of the GROW2 project, gradual monitoring has been made to determine the impact the module has had on various households. The GMF is a gender component of the GROW2 project, which seeks to elevate the opportunities of women, create space for them to venture into or have time to generate more income through reducing unpaid care work, foster participation in household decision-making, and improve their standards of living.

The GMF is currently running in the Savelugu, Nanton, and Central Gonja districts and has made a lot of impact on the participating households despite the challenges in the beginning. Families that have embraced the concept have shared the changes they are seeing in their households. Led by the GESI officer at URBANET Ghana, couples are taken through how to foster inclusiveness in the household, especially how men can support their wives.

Recent monitoring has shown immense improvement in households and the relationship between spouses as well as their children. Men have begun to support their wives in household chores, including decision-making, providing social and financial support, and engaging in communication, which has reduced gender-based abuse, among others.

In the Savelugu district, through decision-making and effective communication with their husbands, a lot of women have been able to acquire certain pre-harvest and post-harvest technologies such as threshers, roller/push planters, and motokings, amongst others, under the GROW2 Price Discount Scheme with their support. Most women have received support when it comes to farm labour, and taking care of children, and they have also been able to acquire multiple sources of income to support themselves and their households.

In terms of communal conflicts, some traditional leaders have reported a reduction in household conflicts and minor community conflicts, and an increase in communal cohesion and peace. However, some men still face challenges in adjusting to the concept due to name-calling and mockery for assisting and performing roles that are generally known to be women’s roles. Most men have been able to fully embrace and adjust to their new roles and have become advocates for the concept in their group meetings and in the community at large.

The Gender Module Family concept has exceeded the expectations of many. A lot of women have shown appreciation and joy at the initiative, and how much stress and burden it has reduced for them. Others in polygamous households have expressed peace between cowives and support for each other. GMF, popularly and joyously called “dundong malimali” (sweet household) by our beneficiaries, has become a daily slogan sung in each practicing household.