The participation of women and men in the livelihood security project of concern worldwide Zambia, in Mongu District

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Sakala, Patrick
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Zambia has recognized the importance of equal participation of women and men in the development process and the involvement of Non-Governmental Organisations to finance, design and implement poverty reduction programmes to reduce poverty (GRZ, 2002a). Concern Worldwide Zambia (CWZ) is one of the Non-governmental Organisations (NGO), which started working in Zambia in October 2002 to improve the livelihood security of people and provide them with HIV/AIDS awareness to reduce poverty. The Organisation has implemented a Livelihood Security Project in partnership with the Mongu District Farmers Association (MDFA) to improve food security of the target group. Although CWZ is committed to reducing poverty among the target group population, the degree to which designs, implementation,monitoring and evaluation processes take gender issues and concerns on board was not well known. Since establishment in 2002, no study to evaluate project impact from a gender perspective had been conducted. The study aimed to identify factors that influenced the participation of women and men anctexamine their level of participation; to measure the extent to which women and men benefited; and to assess the resource, labour .and decision-making contribution of women and men to the Livelihood Security Project. The study used both quantitative and qualitative methods to collect data. Semi-structured interviews; five focus group discussions and in-depth interviews were held to collect primary data in two areas: Litawa, located 87 kilometres to the south; and Nanoko located approximately 26 kilometres north of Mongu town. Documents were also reviewed to collect secondary data.The Statistical Package of Social Sciences (SPSS) and manual condensing and structuring of responses were used to analyse data. The study revealed that the participation of women in project activities including training,exchange visits, study tours, decision-making processes and structures was generally lower than that of the men. More benefits accrued to the majority of the men in training, network building, and skills development. Further, the men had more access to information about project activities,earned high status and prestige in the community, and run the project from their point of view. Few women enjoyed such benefits. The factors that caused and perpetuated gendered outcomes included cultural beliefs and attitudes prevalent in the community favourable for men and restrictive to women; gender imbalance and insensitivity in the executive committees; low education among women; lack of an in-built mechanism to address gender issues that constrained women's participation; and poor communication skills in the MDFA leadership structure. Other factors included involvement in projects run by other organisations, unaffordable membership fees, lack of encouragement and support from husbands to allow the wife attend to activities far away from home. The study found out that both women and men participated in all project activities at various levels including decision making processes and structures, training and benefited from the project in disproportionate margins favouring men. Inability to identify and address gender issues and concerns influencing women and men's participation had impacted more on the men than the women
Poverty -- Zambia , Women -- Developing countries -- Economic conditions