Zambia: Women set the pace and earn men’s respect
This month our country of focus is Zambia, where World Vision’s Strong Women, Strong World initiative includes Zambia’s Empowerment, Respect and Equality (ERE) program providing small grants to get women started in small businesses or agricultural enterprises. As a result, they can earn enough income to feed their families and to continue their education. The following story was contributed by Alfonsias Haamanjanji, World Vision Zambia.
There was something odd about the meeting. Yes, two men in a room with 30 women in rural Zambia is an odd meeting. But something was unusual beyond that. Later, I realized it was the reversal of roles. Women were clearly leading not only the meeting but also the transformation of their community. The two men were at the meeting to testify about the impact of Women’s Savings Groups and how that impact has inspired some men to form their own Savings Group.
“When we saw the amount of money the women saved within five months, we were inspired, and we thought of starting our own savings group,” said Simon Chishimba, the husband of one of the Women’s Savings Group members. Men generally tend to perceive women as inferior in rural areas like Mwamba village in World Vision’s Mwamba area development program, but these women clearly were showing men the way.
“Among the many benefits of the savings groups is that men have come to respect women as equal and capable partners in development,” said Simon. “We have also seen a lot of innovation because the women are engaging in various business ventures in order to repay their loans, and this has subsequently resulted in increased economic activities in the area.”
Wearing a multicolored headdress and a broad smile, Nelina Kafula spoke with such zest that everyone in the room listened. “The women are now focused. We don’t waste money beer drinking because we always think of saving. Our children are happy because they eat and dress well. Not only have we learned to do business, but we have also earned respect from our husbands,” Nelina said to shouts of agreement from the other women.
The village chief, Charles Chileshe, agreed. “Since the coming of ERE (World Vision’s Empowerment, Respect, and Equality program), women in this community have become more focused,” he said.
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