IFADs 2015 Gender Awards: Meet the winners

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IFAD's 2015 Gender Awards: Meet the winners

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©IFAD/Giulio Napolitano

The winning project representatives discuss key issues during the 2015 IFAD Gender Awards.

Rome, 30 November 2015 – On 25 November, in honour of International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, IFAD hosted its third annual Gender Awards to celebrate five best-performing IFAD-supported projects that are making a real difference to women’s lives.

“IFAD recognises that gender equality and women's empowerment are key for rural transformation and for achieving a more prosperous and sustainable world, with a better quality of life for all,” said Périn Saint Ange, IFAD’s Associate Vice-President, during the event.

Beginning in 2013, IFAD's Gender Awards were created to recognize special achievements in gender equality and women's empowerment.

“The Gender Awards recognize the excellent work that is going on at the field level,” said Clare Bishop-Sambrook, Lead Technical Specialist in Gender and Social Inclusion at IFAD. “They also give ideas and provide visibility to best practices throughout IFAD's portfolio.”

Representatives from the winning projects in Belize, Ethiopia, India, the Republic of Moldova and Senegal presented their achievements at the award ceremony. They also discussed the challenges they have had to overcome in promoting gender equality and fostering change.

“This group of leaders that come to IFAD as one person, with thousands of people behind them, are working to make a difference in their countries and their communities,” said Josefina Stubbs, IFAD’s Associate Vice-President and Chief Development Strategist.

Ending violence against rural women

Violence against women is still a hugely significant global issue.

One in three women worldwide has experienced physical or sexual violence at the hands of their partner while one in 15 will be assaulted at some point in their lives by a non-partner.

Many IFAD-financed programmes and projects work to prevent gender-based violence through supporting women’s livelihoods in smallholder farming, fishing, livestock-keeping and rural entrepreneurship.

By enabling greater access to land, credit and other productive resources, these initiatives contribute to the economic and social empowerment of rural women. In the process, they allow women a greater degree of safety from harm.


Meet the winners


Rural Finance Programme, Belize

Women’s economic empowerment is a crucial building block for gender equality, and financial literacy is the first step.

The IFAD-funded Rural Finance Programme in Belize has been working with rural women to increase financial literacy since 2009. It has also worked to establish gender-sensitive practices in the credit unions supported by the programme.

These practices include making women's financial information confidential, as well as no longer presuming that a woman’s assets can be used to guarantee her husband’s loans. Today, of the 2800 loans issued since 2011, 60 per cent have been taken out by women.

“When you talk to the women and you hear them say things like ‘I never thought I could open a savings account.’ ‘I never thought that my daughter would be able to go to high school.’ They can now dream, it’s just a simple fact but they can now dream," said Lorne Solis, the programme manager.


Community-Based Integrated Natural Resources Management Project, Ethiopia

This IFAD-supported project has been empowering women across Ethiopia since 2010. Through the project, rural women are issued with land certificates and as a result, they are increasing their household incomes.

Women have also reported that their self-confidence has increased and that they feel they have more influence in the decisions taken within households.

“Women are empowered economically, socially and at the household level. They can make decisions together with their husbands,” said Tenagna Kebede Tafesse, the project's focal point.

“They sit down together and make decisions about how to use their land and how to manage their incomes. They get respect in the community.”

The project is also working to diversify livelihoods and offer new income streams for women and young people. Activities such as engaging in tourism, baking bread and cultivating orchids help women become financially independent and allow them to have a voice in their communities.


Tejaswini Maharashtra Rural Women Empowerment Programme, India

This IFAD-supported programme is remarkable because it focuses entirely on women’s empowerment. The initiative has set up over 75,000 self-help groups for savings and credit and has reached over one million women. It focuses on mobilizing women and involving men in reaching gender equality.

Entrenched gender norms and traditions lead to women shouldering much of the work in the household. Training works to open these traditions up for discussion and encourage more equal participation.

 “Creating a supportive environment for women is something very different and without male support it cannot happen,” says Kusum Balsaraf, the programme's manager.

 “We are offering legal support to women so that they can come and say that they are well informed of their rights,” said Balsaraf. “Because of our interventions they have the confidence to face the violence and to face the issues with how women are treated.”

Promoting education and reducing prenatal sex selection are just a few of the other ways that this programme is making an impact on communities in Maharashtra.


Rural Financial Services and Agribusiness Development Project, Republic of Moldova

Since 2011, this IFAD-supported project has assisted approximately 2,000 borrowers, including more than 700 women. The project provides micro-entrepreneurs with access to loans and training to help them improve their business practices and realize their economic potential.

Data gathered from the project indicates that young women are achieving better results than their male counter parts. This success has allowed women to become active decision-makers in their community and to voice their opinions on issues that matter to them, such as health and education.

“Women have expressed that having access to this money gave them the possibility to develop a business, support their families, do what they want to do in their life, take their own fate in their hands, and most importantly to be near their families and keep their families together," said Tatiana Mindru, the programme's knowledge and communication specialist.

The entrepreneurial spirit that this project builds is helping establish roots for young people thus breaking the cycle of migration that is all too prevalent in Moldova.


Agricultural Value Chains Support Project, Senegal

With impressive results, this IFAD-supported project has shown how rural women can engage in profitable economic activities, leading to positive outcomes for households and communities.

Women make up 62 per cent of beneficiaries in the market access micro-project and that over 20,000 women have benefitted from leadership and financial management training.

Seventy-nine per cent of project participants with vegetable gardens are women and over 800 women have been trained to process and cook local cereals.

The training enables women to benefit economically from cultivating their gardens, as well as help maintain a market for local grains and cereals, thus supporting the local economy.

“With the revenue coming from the agricultural production, women were able to improve the quality of their houses. Now they can build their houses in bricks,” said Ibrahima Ndiaye, the programme's assistant. “Now there are women that are leaders at the community level.”

Women now play a significant role in local farmer organizations, making up over half the members of farmer organizations. As a direct result of the success of this intervention, good practices are being scaled up in a new project and used by the Ministry of Agriculture in other activities.