Our general objective of women activities is empowering women as the excluded members of community, to be self-helped and actively participate in community life. Two types of activities were designed to achieve the aim: community/intercommunity meetings/discussions and practical home industry activities.
Transformative Awareness Education through community and intercommunity meetings
We facilitated regular community and intercommunity meetings. To stimulate the discussion we distributed reading materials (gender magazine and newsletters). We encouraged the women to read and raise some issues in the meeting. In the meetings we facilitated the discussion and sharing of experiences. Unfortunately, number of women participated in the meetings in some villages are decreased significantly. In the evaluation session the women explained that in the first round of the meeting, some of the women thought that there will be “meeting money” as other NGOs did. Since they know that Sunspirit did not provide money as incentive, some of the women do not want to join the meetings. Fortunately the core group is still committed to continue with the activities.
To encourage active participation and ensure the sustainability of “women forum” in the communities, we facilitated Training for Community Facilitators on October 30-31. Twenty key persons (2 from each community) were trained to become motivator and organizer for community meetings.
Ibu Rosni Idham, a well-known women and peace activist, as one of the resource-person in the training, encouraged the participants to be more active in the dynamics of community life after the conflict. “As women, we have to support each other, organize ourselves better, and utilize all opportunities provided by NGOs coming to our villages. It is time for us, Acehnese women, to take more responsibility to our family and our communities”, said Ibu Rosni.
Practical Trainings in Home Industry
A practical training for women in 10 communities (236 women) was held in Meulaboh in September 6-14, 2007. The training consisted of 2 aspects: cooking/food processing training and headscarf embroidery (payet and sulam). Women groups from each villages got 1 day training for food processing and 2 days for headscarf embroidery. For cooking class, each groups got 3 types of food processing (24 types in 8 days). The plan is in the future the women can exchange their skills.
As part of the empowerment program, we offered to the women from 10 communities, facilities and small capital to start home industry activities either in groups or individually. To ensure the sustainability and based on lessons learned from various home industry program of other institutions, we decided not to give the facilities and capital as pure grant. We asked the women groups or individuals to make a business plan (what kind of business they want to develop, what facilities is needed, how much capital do they need, how much capital they already have, etc). They can come to us to ask for the facilities and capital.
Some of the villages already started their business; while others plan to start after Idul Fitri (October). Women groups in Seumuling and Seuneubok Trap are already started with eggplants sweet production. Headscarf embroidery started in 3 communities (Glee Siblah, ALue Bakong, Seuneubok Trap) right after the training. At the moment we work together with BEUJROH COLLECTION outlet in Meulaboh for the marketing of the products. In the future, our challenges are helping the serious women groups to build access to the market (market development of the products) and helping them in organizing their groups.