Gender Sensitivity Training

“This training is an opportunity for we women to talk of what our husbands do and [how] it harms us. Talking one’s mind in the presence of men is not an easy task. But you’ve given us that opportunity. Thank you.”

In many developing countries, women are viewed as second-class citizens. Even though women often have a heavier workload as caretakers of the home, they have very little influence or authority in their house and communities. This unbalanced societal power often leads to fewer opportunities for women for education and work, and can also lead to domestic abuse.

GAiN’s Gender Sensitivity Training program is designed to open up communications between the sexes to bring mutual understanding and respect of each others’ roles. The program starts with employing local experts on gender issues who have a clear understanding of the problem within the current social and cultural context to help create and lead training sessions. These sessions facilitate discussions that highlight positive practices between men and women, and expose areas that need improved understanding. Staring in two groups and later coming together in one discussion, both genders discuss the various roles, expectations, and the importance of both genders. Participants also have the chance to share experiences when they have felt empowered or dis-empowered, and how those experiences relate to their own personal role within their household and village. Finally, brainstorming sessions are led to consider what changes could be made to foster an environment of respect, dignity, and understanding for both genders.

So far WFLI has held training sessions in 211 villages across Benin and Tanzania, with 11,168 participants (43% male, 67% female). Through interviews and surveys taken during later well check ups, we have learned that approximately 81% of participants in the training stated they have a better understanding of gender issues, and many women have noted that they are already seeing improvements around their villages. However, it is not only women who have appreciated the training. A man in Trinnonhoue, Benin, stated, “We’ve never had such a meeting to discuss our household problems with our wives. I really appreciate the appeal that is to send our children (girls and boys) to school and keep them in as long as possible.” Another man in Kumbaila, Tanzania explained that “Before training people didn’t understand gender equality in the community but the training made people to be aware about gender equality between men and women.”

When a water-well is drilled, it significantly improves the physical health of the village. However, by providing opportunities for further community development (←link?) such as gender sensitivity training, we are able to impact villages in a much more meaningful way. In countries like Benin and Tanzania, the inequality between men and women is an accepted part of society, and often the men are not aware that women are experiencing hardships as a result of their sex. Our gender sensitivity training empowers both men and women to be champions of equality in their communities, and opens communications between the genders that were previously unheard of.