Positioning women´s groups as agents of change

The adoption of a gender equality focus in the project provided an opportunity to take into account the perceptions and concerns of women. In women-only workshops, their social vulnerability in the form of family violence, crime and drug addiction, was recognised. Moreover, the workshops made evident their desire to participate in project activities that would mean an improvement in the quality of life for their families. Their resulting participation was manifold. For example, in order to secure access to potable water, the women´s group from the community of Las Coloradas got capacitated in the technology needed for the operation of rainwater capture systems as well as water purification equipment. Additionally, the women created the social enterprise “Drops of Love” by which they could provide potable water to the primary school and nursery, whilst selling the remaining water to families in the community.

By way of a further example, after women from the community of El Mingo got themselves capacitated in construction and eco-tech, they formed the group “The Breeze of El Mingo” so that they could take part in the construction of palafitos to protect, in times of disaster, goods and property belonging to the 80 families in the community.

  • Being able to identify from the beginning of the project the needs, vulnerabilities and capacities of local women, and thereby integrating them well into the adaptation measures design
  • Workshops for reflection about adaptation measures that promoted the continued commitment of women to participate in the project
  • A growing spirit of pride and entrepreneurship on the part of the women of the communties
  • Committed and consistent support from experienced, local NGOs
  • Capacitated and adaptation-aware women are a source of enthusiasm, motivation and drive for the effective implementation of projects that support improvements in family life;
  • Empowerment of women cannot happen just through their participation in workshops; their continuous mentoring, by local facilitators, in the medium to long-term is vital for the sustainability of projects;
  • Participation of women in the project stimulated their active participation in activities beyond the project;
  • In communities where there is a deep divide between activities undertaken by men and women, treating gender equality as a matter of identifying women´s projects, alone, can lead to the risk that important productive issues to do with community livelihoods may be missed in measures implemented. A gender responsive approach to community adaptation planning that considers adaptation measures from both male and female perspectives is an effective approach for ensuring that both women´s and men´s activities are supported through adaptation.