In line with the gender mainstreaming training, I wrote a blog on why getting women to participate in gender mainstreaming training is not enough to make a lasting change. This is because getting women to participate in training often does not change the status quo or bridge the gender gap. But let's get real: in practice this is simply not always possible as your project could be ongoing or has a limited budget. And, sometimes the only thing one can do, is that one training.
Therefore, in this article, I approach from a different angle:
How can training programmes contribute to bridging the gender gap?
I want to address this question through the approach of the BOOST project in Mombasa, Kenya. The project aims at supporting the growth of decent work, green business, and access to sustainable technology while contributing to a circular economy and promoting gender equality. Part of the project focuses on the repair and maintenance of ICT assets and the management of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE). This is a sector that is to-date largely male-dominated. To address this gender gap, the project conducted a computer repair training - hosted by women, for women - including a basic ICT repair and maintenance training.
Although it was exciting to see women in Tech break the glass ceiling in this industry, at a fist glance, I wondered:
- Would this increase the work that women do as it would be added to the other roles that they have within the family?
- How would this training help women get access to and control over more resources? Would this training on a "non-traditional" vocation really support women in finding a decent and alternative source of income?
- Would the community accept this "non-traditional" vocation?
Quite some critical questions. Althought it's always possible to further improve this training, it's also important to realise what is already going well. Taking a closer look and interviewing some of the participants, I did realise that this training supported some first, crucial steps in support of gender equality. So, here's to celebrating these first steps!
These first steps are that the training:
...tackled traditional stereotypes.
Computer training can be considered quite a "non-traditional" vocation for women, especially within Mombasa where there's high distinction of traditional roles between men and women. However, as it turned out, this training helped the female participants see that they could equally take up this job.
One participant said, "this training was eye-opening for the young women as they have the mindset that this is a 'men-only' career. The training changed their mindsets that as a woman you cannot go into the hardware part of IT." Moreover, looking at whether the family would accept women's involvement in computer repair, different participants indicated that their families would accept this, if done from home.
...provided a safe space for sharing experiences.
In addition to the computer repair skills that the training provided, it offered a safe space for the participants; with only women being present, the environment allowed for them to share and chat about the daily challenges they were facing day-to-day. This provided a sense of community.
...offered better access to computer repair services for women in the region.
You might wonder, "why?" Aren't there already enough compute repair services (provided by men) that women can access?
Probably yes, but the question here is whether women would feel comfortable calling upon men's services. Due to the deep-rooted traditions regulating public interactions between men and women in the area, many women would feel uncomfortable bringing their computer containing personal images for repair by a man. Therefore, the training allowed women to repair their computers and offer these services to fellow women.
Change takes time and taking the first steps into gender mainstreaming in projects is important. I am curious to see how the training programme will further evolve (and whether additional activities will be facilitated). Throughout this journey, it's important to remain realistic in what's possible and challenge yourself to identify these small steps that motivate you to keep going.
Would you like to join our gender mainstreaming course? Are you looking into a tailor-made training on gender mainstreaming? Talk to our expert in gender training programmes, Nadine Bergmann, via firstname.lastname@example.org
NB: BOOST is a comprehensive initiative that exists to support the growth of decent work, green business, and access to sustainable technology while fostering the circular economy of Mombasa, Kenya. The project is a partnership of MDF Training and Consultancy, Close the Gap Kenya, Crosswise Works, and NITA. MDF Training and Consultancy manages the project and executes the training track; Boost Your Learning. This training pillar aims at supporting the youth, companies, and their employees to improve relations, working life, and impact through increased understanding of e-waste, circular economy, repair and maintenance of ICT items and soft skills and create awareness on circular economy.