“Before I was just thinking that it cannot be, it cannot be possible … for different groups of women to meet together and have … one goal.”
Now we know, if we can be in groups, we can do something that can be important.
Women Together completes it's first learning exchange!
From May 4th to 11th, women from 3 communities in southern Malawi came together to share with each other their skills, knowledge, experience and friendship.
For 45 women who had lived only a few miles from each other their whole lives, and yet had never met or visited each other’s communities, this was a transformative experience. Overcoming negative pre-conceptions, fears, and doubt from other community members, the women gathered together every day to share skills in cooking and nutrition, to transfer knowledge about women’s health, and to teach each other how to create permaculture vegetable gardens.
From this initial group of 45 women, 15 women took part in a further 5 days of training on how to produce portable cookstoves. These stoves reduce firewood consumption by 80%. This is a huge benefit to these communities, where women spend 40 hours a week collecting wood – this means that women have little time to participate in other income generating activities, girls miss school, and the native forest that used to cover this region is being rapidly decimated, leading to reduced rainfall, drought, and famine. With the cookstoves, women not only gain 40 hours per week for other activities, but they also gain an income-generating skill.
At the completion of the training, each woman took home a completed cookstove, and each community group received enough supplies to set up a production workshop where they can train other women in this skill. Each group also received a digital connection pack including a smart phone and solar panel, so that they can stay connected with each other and with us via Whatsapp for ongoing training and support. Since the completion of the training, the women have already gathered to plan the construction of their workshops, and to discuss the creation of inter-community cooperatives to produce and sell their cookstoves together.
We are super excited.
And it’s not over! We are already planning our next learning exchanges in July and August. Building on the momentum and interest generated from our first exchange, we will be partnering with new women’s groups that can share skills in the production of fuel briquettes to replace firewood, and the creation of seedling nurseries to reforest the area with native plants.
In addition to addressing the multiple issues of household poverty, women’s autonomy and environmental degradation, we are excited that these learning exchanges will continue to build women’s strength and solidarity across Malawi.
We have seen what is possible when Women are Together!
There are many ways that you can participate!
We need your skills and time - we would love to work with you remotely from your home, or to have you come out into the field to work with us on a women’s learning exchange.
Most importantly, we need folks to invest in these learning exchanges – every single contribution is valuable to us – from $5 to $50,000.
Use the donate button below, or email us and let us know how you'd like to participate -
we will be in touch soon!