Gender Awareness Training

So last week MWECS (cancer charity i am working for here in Addis) along with a few other close NCD partners attended a training on Gender awareness. Mrs Martha Mulusa was an inspirational speaker from a womans support organisation (WSA) here in Addis.

The pre questionnaire looked at your understanding of the difference between Gender and sex. What gender issues are? Have you ever faced gender issues in the work place?   While i contemplated my responses i realised that i have been very lucky in the workplace. Although there may be problems with some male colleagues it has never been down to gender differences. I know that this may not be the same for everyone in western countries. However a week after my course i realised that although we have gender equality focuses in the UK there were still some similarities to that here in Ethiopia

The gender equalities here in Ethiopia are learned through education, family, religion, society and communities. There is a responsibility to change this; the first step is to acknowledge the differences to help achieve the goals in the future. There is a statement “women are equal to men”. This is already setting men higher. The true statement to aim for is “men & women are equal”.


One of the breakout sessions covered the below story. It sparked much debate amongst the group, but also opened up my eyes into looking at the less obvious.

An NGO charity worker is looking to help with some innovative improvements in a village in the Amhara region. He sees that the women must walk 5kms to collect water for their village. He speaks with the elders of the village and advises that he can put in a well in the village for the water so that the women no longer have to walk that distance. The elders agree so he uses the local men to complete the heavy work of digging the well, and also trains the men in the maintenance of the pump.

The NGO worker returns 3 months later to see the pump in use and discovers that the pump is no longer being used, it is damaged and the women are still walking their 5km to collect their water and the pump in the village is left.

Our question was, why? Why did the project fail?

There were many reasons for the project to fail; # The women’s work load had been reduced but the mens increased with no benefit to the men. # The water had not been the mens responsibility in the past, so did not give the attention required. # Only the men were trained which meant if they had to leave the village to work there was only the women left to maintain and they had not been shown how. # Only the elders had been asked if it was something that was wanted. This was the key point; there are no women who would have sat in that meeting with the elders. If they had been asked the NGO worker would have discovered that during the women’s walk to collect the water this was their only “free time”, their only time to talk without the men around, and free to talk about women issues. With the new pump they lost this small bit of free time that they had.

So what does this teach us? It teaches us that everyone has a voice. It teaches us that when making such a change that a gender analysis should be done; this tool helps you to understand the different cultures. In this example culture tells you it is respective to talk to the elders, it does not mean that the women should not also be talked to. Voice of the customer. Using this tool will give a better result for development projects.


The Amharic is still coming together. The word for todays blog is Chiga-rellam – No problem, or maybe ‘Endeh?’ (Really???) is more appropriate for today