One of the key partner NGOs that YCI is working with is the Zanzibar NGO Cluster (ZANGOC). Recently the Zanzibari Ministry of Social Welfare, Youth and Women’s Development has entered final stages of preparing a policy on mainstreaming gender issues in their programs. In order to prepare for compliance with this policy, ZANGOC and its member organizations want to begin promoting awareness of gender issues within their organizations at the decision-making and programming levels. As part of YCI’s mission to build the capacity of partner NGOs, a YCI team of two volunteers and an intern have been working with a ZANGOC team of three representatives to create a scope of work for a Gender Equality Team within ZANGOC.
Initial discussions focused on conceptual topics, such as the idea of gender equity, the Gender Equality Team’s mission and role within ZANGOC, as well as the Team’s relationship with the community at large. There were some exciting, heated discussions on the specifics of what gender equity would look like in the Zanzibari context. In particular, the role of religion on its influence on society’s perception of gender roles in Zanzibar was one of the many interesting topics that were brought up. We have discussed the real need to involve the counsel of religious leaders from the communities as one of the key stakeholders in this process, not only as needed input but also to utilize their influence as an authority in their respective religious communities.
Further, there was skepticism and debate on borrowing the international (and thus non-Zanzibari) conception of gender equality for the rational for a ZANGOC Gender Equality Team from the gender policies of YCI and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). This was resolved by demonstrating that the two specific objectives from CIDA’s three objectives are universal enough to be adequate until further guidelines and direction can be gleaned from the forthcoming gender mainstreaming policy from the Ministry of Social Welfare, Youth and Women’s Development. The two objectives of CIDA as well as the ZANGOC Gender Equality Team are as follows:
- To advance women’s equal participation with men as decision makers in shaping the sustainable development of their societies.
- To support women and girls in their realization of their full human rights, as per the UN Universal Declaration on Human Rights, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and The Beijing Declaration of 1995.
The four target areas that have been created for the ZANGOC Gender Equality Team to work on towards these two large objectives include: leadership, gender mainstreaming of NGO programs, information and resource access, and indirect advocacy. ZANGOC Gender Equality Team is conceived as an advisory body that will work with the ZANGOC member NGOs to oversee the achievement of gender equitable leadership throughout the NGOs, as well as the gender mainstreaming of their programming. Further, the ZANGOC Gender Equality Team will be a hub of gender-related information and resources for the access of ZANGOC member NGOs to further empower them through knowledge. Lastly, the ZANGOC Gender Equality Team will have influence as an indirect advocate for gender equity by conducting an active research on issues of gender equity on Zanzibar. By using its research as channels of influence, the ZANGOC Gender Equality Team will be able to reach both the grassroots community level through the NGOs, as well as potentially the disseminating its research within ZANGOC to its member NGOS as well as its Executive Committee, it will be able to influence both the grassroots community and potentially the national policy level with the Executive Committee’s lobbying.
The goal of the T11-8C YCI phase has been to facilitate the administrative and organizational process to create the team dedicated for the mainstreaming of gender equity throughout the organization. Drafts of scope of work, a job description for its members and a budget proposal for its activities have been submitted for the approval of the ZANGOC Executive Committee. Once established, this Gender Equality Team will be the very first of its kind as the first grassroots body dedicated to gender equality in Zanzibar!
With the foundations established, T11-8C YCI phase looks forward to the arrival of the incoming YCI innovator who will be working with the nascent ZANGOC Gender Equality Team to take its first steps of action.
-Hyun Park, Youth Ambassador, Tanzania 2011
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