Women Together Malawi - 2019 Year-End Update
It was a roller coaster year with work on two continents!
As many of you know, this year we were immersed in the fight for gender equity right here in NYC, so our NYC team has spent less time in Malawi than expected. The good news is, no one seems to be missing us over there! Our three Malawian program coordinators, Esther, Lydia and Ruth, have been doing a fantastic job leading the Women Together programs in Malawi while we've been busy in NYC - so we are now a transnational force for women's empowerment!
Here are some highlights from the Summer and Fall of 2019:
Jatropha Seed Oil Training
Following the success of our summer soap-making training for womens' groups in Phalombe, our new soap-makers started exploring alternative soap ingredients to reduce their production costs and boost their profits. We connected them with a group of women in a neighboring community who grow a local plant, Jatropha, the seeds of which can be used to produce oil which is perfect for soap production. In September the two groups came together in a learning exchange in the community of Nasenje in southern Malawi to share knowledge about growing Jatropha crops and producing soap! Both groups of women now have new business partners to build a supply chain and a market for their goods. And did we also mention that they saw their first elephant as they drove through a nearby national park?
In addition to women exchanging income generating skills such as soap making, we recognize the importance of transferring financial management skills which enable women to turn skills into sustainable income. So, in November we organized our first international learning exchange to bring financial trainers from MUVA Mozambique to Malawi. Over 8 days, the wonderful MUVA trainers, Iana and Zilhalia, trained 15 Women Together participants to become Financial Management Trainers. Now, this cohort of super smart women will make sure that every Women Together group in Malawi will receive the financial training to make their business successful!
Girls Growing Together
From May to September 2019, Women Together Intern Lydia Maseko piloted a Girls Club in her local high school to keep girls in school and out of early marriage and pregnancy. The program was so successful that two local chiefs asked Lydia to replicate the program in their communities. Last week, with the support of the Highland Women's Collaborative in Cold Spring NY, Lydia launched Girls Growing Together 2.0. Now, 80 girls across two communities are attending a weekly after-school Girls Club and receiving in-home mentoring to give them the support, encouragement, knowledge, and motivation to stay in school. Graduates from the initial pilot program are working as Girls Champions in the new program, and their parents are serving as Parent Mentors for the new girls' families. Way to go Lydia, growing the next generation of empowered women!
Here Comes 2020!
Women Together will kick off 2020 with a cookstove Learning Exchange for 30 women in Malawi in February, and then the year will roll out with a host of learning opportunities, including small-scale baking and cattle-raising!
please consider making a contribution to support Women Together programs in 2020!
We appreciate you, your commitment to this cause, your heart, and the energy you bring to building a better world for women, girls, and everyone!
Here's to a fantastic 2020!