Monday, March 9, 2015

Celebrating (Crafts)women’s Achievements

Having just celebrated International Women’s Day on Sunday 8th March, I am sure every ICS project will have been reflecting on how its work is contributing to making change happen for the women involved. ICS works with some very marginalised communities throughout the ‘developing world’, and often it is the women of these communities that fare the worst.

The fight for gender equality across the world is far from over, and all the battles are of course relative to the places, people and cultures involved. Yet what is important is that International Women’s Day is about celebrating women in their diversity; their strengths, their achievements and their abilities. It does naturally highlight the problems and obstacles that still exist in preventing women from achieving their full potential, and moreover it should not only be one day in our calendar during which we are encouraged to think about these subjects, but it is positive to have a time to be able to reflect on the successes of the half of the population which is too often overlooked.

At TradeAID Integrated, the majority of our beneficiaries are women. It is exciting to be part of something that works directly with several groups of women, highly skilled in their crafts, and playing a small part in empowering them to improve their businesses. It is interesting to consider what ‘women’s empowerment’ really means; is it educational, economic, emotional? Whichever way we understand it, it is satisfying to work with women on knowledge and skills that they can take forward themselves to make change in their lives.

A group of female basket weavers learning bookkeeping

Seeing women engaging in training sessions on how to record keep for their businesses, their delight at having done their calculations correctly, and their mutual appreciation for each other’s learning and practising are things which I have been proud to be a part of. We hope that these women will take their initial successes in learning and use them to create even bigger achievements for themselves in sustaining thriving enterprises.

A female fabric weavers group undergoes training

The ultimate ideal is that we should not need an ‘International Women’s Day’ to consider gender (in)equality or appreciate women’s achievements; however, for now, it gives a great opportunity for us at TradeAID to say that the crafts women in Bolgatanga with whom we work are certainly worth celebrating.

The women help each other as they practice what they have
been taught by the volunteers

Helen Turner (UK volunteer)

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