A busy year in Burkina Faso

By Judy Gray, World Neighbours Canada director,

Despite the insecurity in Burkina Faso a great deal was accomplished by our partner organization APDC and the communities they work with. At a glance, here are just some of the activities and sessions that have taken place during the past year:

Stone bunds are a simple way to retain the limited water available to these farmers
  • The development (adding stone bunds to undeveloped land) and planting of 186 hectares of land by 72 people including 16 women and 56 men. In this activity, women’s participation has increased significantly compared to previous years.
  • The development and planting of 3 hectares of lowland terrain with rice, in the village of Kpentouangou. 74 people including 67 women participated in this activity.
  • This result of the above is a big step forward in terms of access to resources (land) by women and a significant improvement in the gender equality domain.
Community gardens help improve the health of the community and provide additional funds.
  • The functioning of 6 vegetable gardens, including 2 new ones, which produced fresh vegetables, allowing for improved nutrition of children aged 6-59 months and pregnant and nursing women in those villages. Furthermore, the women have increased and diversified their income through the sale of excess vegetables grown.
  • 23 women’s groups planted sweet potato and moringa cuttings in order to minimize malnutrition. Both of these plants are rich in vitamins and grow well in the Sahel, with limited water supply.
Micro lending has proven helpful and profitable for participating women.
  • The dynamisation and functioning of 27 savings and credit groups which include 702 women. This enabled these women to mobilize a total of 5,436,850 West African francs (about $12,000 or approximately $17 per participant) to grant small loans to those in need and provide a means for the women to solve problems. (This seemingly small amount of money is critical to giving a woman some independence and the opportunity to solve a problem herself without needing her husband’s aid or permission.)
  • 33 outdoor video projection sessions on gender and rights, gender and nutrition, gender and family planning strengthened the knowledge of 3,741 people in the 18 villages covered by the project. This will undoubtedly contribute to increased gender equity in the villages.
Regular community training sessions are at the heart of APDC’s work.
  • The training and retraining of 75 leaders (40 women and 35 men) on gender and women’s rights in 14 villages to continue to strengthen and improve gender equity.

Work continues in Burkina Faso despite insecurity

Work continues by APDC and villagers to transform their gardens and lives.

by Judy Gray, World Neighbours Canada director

The security situation in Eastern Burkina Faso has deteriorated since the beginning of 2019. APDC, our partner organization reports that, “In relation to the implementation of activities, we can say that the issue of insecurity has not improved. There was even an attempt to prevent producers from returning to farming activities by executing 2 peasants in the Kompienga (Pama) area who were working in their fields. But in the area of ​​Fada, not having known this case, the producers continued to engage in their work in fields to procure the productions necessary for the survival of their households.”

APDC director Charles Tankoano had also noted earlier in the year that “terrorist attacks have reduced the pace of activities and everyone lives in fear. Terrorists in the project area sometimes ask the villagers what the purpose of a meeting is. Also, information sessions and debates held at night have been suspended. Due to this insecurity, no major events such as the commemoration of 8 March 2019 (International Women’s Day) could be held in the project area. ”

One might assume that given the issues with insurgents and jihadist groups that the villagers and APDC staff might be ready to consider cancelling planned sessions and activities. Yet, this is not what we hear: “In this, the 4th year of our grant from Global Affairs Canada, the Burkina team continues to implement and expand project activities.” Tankoano explains that one of the most important positive factors is the availability and reliability of the funding and that is due to the support World Neighbours Canada currently receives from Global Affairs Canada.

The unrest has made from World Neighbours Canada impossible. The travel advisories published by the Canadian Government have continued to place a growing number of provinces in Burkina Faso in the “Red Zone” – in other words all travel is suspended. It has now been two years since a WNC director visited. It is clear that any such visit would put the staff of APDC and the villagers at tremendous risk, as well as the directors themselves.

While it saddens me that I can’t visit this country I have come to love and re-connect with staff whom I consider to be friends, I am so impressed by the work this small team continues to implement to allow the villagers to make positive changes to their lives in the face of extreme challenges. One can only hope that the situation improves in the coming year.

Stay tuned as we will publish an article outlining all that has been accomplished this year in Burkina Faso.

If you wish to read a more complete summary of the Annual Report, please look at the Program Areas page.

How Does Gender Equity Work? World Neighbours Canada Localizes the Big Question

The following is an article written by Gurleen Grewal for the British Columbia Council for International Cooperation (BCCIC), featuring the work done by World Neighbours partners. This article and many others can be accessed on their website at https://www.bccic.ca/how-does-gender-equity-work-world-neighbours-canada-localizes-the-big-question/#

By: Gurleen Grewal 

The drive to work towards gender equity propels transformative action in communities all around the world. Taking a look at three places where gender equity has been introduced in initiatives dealing with water and sanitation systems, nutrition and food security, and maternal and child health, we want to talk about how this concept is relevant across a variety of contexts. The three examples that follow each share how the nuts and bolts of gender equity come together, and how transformative change begins with tangible steps.

Where are the Women? Connecting Gender Equity to Water and Sanitation Systems

In Nepal’s eastern Ramechhap District, the organization, Tamakoshi Sewa Samiti (TSS), provides materials and technical training to villagers who plan, build, and maintain water systems in their remote communities. Many villagers decide to extend the benefits of the water systems into sanitation, installing sealed toilets. The combined effect of water and sanitation systems is that villagers can easily access water that is safe to drink, and significantly lower the occurrence of gastrointestinal disease.

After committing to deepening their understanding of how gender impacts development work, TSS noted that women were often underrepresented in the committees that planned for water systems. To address this issue, a few years ago TSS introduced quotas to integrate women into decision-making spaces, supporting their participation in water-user committees that operate at the village level. Following this act, they later organized a training session to develop a more nuanced take on how gender relates to health, and conducted an analysis of how gender impacts the lived experiences of those in the eastern regions of Nepal. In the upcoming year, TSS plans to offer diversity and inclusion training within water-user committees. They hope to use the conversations this process brings about to explore gendered divisions of labour, getting down to the fine points of which tasks are important for an individual on a daily basis according to their gender. While expanding their focus on gender equity, TSS has kept pace with capacity building, anticipating future moments of potential and setting the stage to enact the solutions that emerged from their gendered analysis of the field of water and sanitation.

One of the outcomes of bringing women to the table in water-user committees at TSS was having the gendered impacts of water systems, their links to women’s reproductive and menstrual health, come to light. For instance, the installation of water systems in remote villages reduces the time women spend travelling to collect water by up to two-to-eight hours. This translates to an improvement in the physical and psychological health of women and girls, as they are tasked with collecting water. The positive health effects of water systems further support women during their pregnancy and postnatal periods, and lower child mortality. With water and sanitation systems it also becomes easier to maintain menstrual hygiene, an important consideration in communities where the stigma around menstruation is high. Recognizing that enabling women to be active agents in their communities is a fraught and ongoing endeavour that requires negotiating social practices, household resources, and other local barriers, TSS has still managed to make headway in integrating gender equity into their programs. In return, they have seen the positive effects of gender equity within their organization, and of course, across villages in Nepal.

“The Whole Family Wins”: Unpacking Gendered Divisions of Labour

The Association d’Appui à la Promotion du Développement Durable des Communautés (APDC) operates across eighteen villages in Fada, an eastern part of Burkina Faso. Their program encourages the prevention and treatment of childhood diseases, attends to family planning, improves food security, and boosts the participation of women in leadership roles in community organizations. By combining educational and practical activities, APDC fosters inter-generational growth that translates to positive outcomes in nutrition and health, but also in gender equity.

In the push to strengthen women’s social and economic positions, APDC looks at the links between gender equity and related issues like child nutrition and food security, by offering training sessions that teach women how to raise poultry and fatten sheep. According to Charles Tankoano, the Executive Director of APDC, the women who participate in these training sessions become like “business manager[s].” They take responsibility for overseeing the daily tasks of tending to the animals, manage all the expenses related to these tasks, and decide how to spend the financial resources that come from the animals. Tankoano shares that many men agree to help their wives succeed in these training sessions by collecting and storing fodder to feed the animals, constructing workshops for fattening, and selling the animals then returning the money to the women. By tying women to processes of food production and income-generation this activity elevates their social and economic positions. Some of the men who take part in these sessions come to see women more as co-partners, with the ability and authority to make decisions within the family and the village.

In addition to offering training sessions on food production methods, APDC invites men and women to attend gender sensitization sessions. Here, they explain what gender equity is and why it matters, develop communication skills between men and women, and look at human rights and reproductive health. These sessions make the abstract ideas of gender, and of gender equity, both personal and accessible. This is a key step in coordinating efforts for women’s empowerment and ensuring that men are on board. Across the eighteen villages that APDC works with, many of the men who took part in gender sensitization sessions shared their stories. Some men had started helping women with household chores that had been considered “exclusively” gendered forms of labour, such as childcare. Before, it was said that if a man “touches the spatula used to make le to (a Burkinabe dish), he becomes impotent.” But, the prejudices associated with gendered divisions of labour have been weakened by building awareness around the communal and financial benefits of gender equity. For instance, more men now realize that if they contribute to household work their wives will be able to participate in income-generating activities so that “the whole family wins.”

While APDC has worked in the Fada region of Burkina Faso since 2008, they still face a number of challenges in advocating for gender equity. As they work to bring about transformative changes that contradict the patriarchal power structures organizing entire households and villages, APDC has to think long-term. They think on the level of generations, looking to the future and the past as they strategize on how to address the local issues that call upon them today. They celebrate the small victories of men who understand the importance of validating their wives’ work, while acknowledging the struggles of altering deeply embedded social and cultural practices.

Tools for Trust: Building Community Capacity Through Gender Equity

Vecinos Honduras (VH) has a complementary approach to development. They work in the departments of Valle and El Paraíso, which are in the southern and eastern parts of Honduras. They tend to stay in an area between six to eight years. Initially, they integrate into communities by hosting educational initiatives on child nutrition or optimizing crop production. VH then slowly becomes involved in training local leaders so that they can organize these kinds of initiatives, learn the ins and outs of project-planning, and manage funds. For VH, the eventual goal is to cultivate communities with the capacity to take development projects from imagination to implementation.

Equipped with a toolkit of activities addressing topics such as water and agriculture, labour divisions, household relationships, and other parts of community capacity-building, VH embraces a holistic view of development. Under this umbrella, every time VH layers in a focus on gender equity, its effects amplify across the different components of community that they address. Attuned to the order in which conversations occur, they are careful to first introduce activities that cement trust with communities and only later implement programs that explore issues more guarded by social norms, such as gendered divisions of labour. VH pays attention to local contexts, adapting their communications to suit the specific needs of those they seek to work with, rather than using a top-down, one-size-fits-all approach. This strategy is crucial to nurturing connections with, and staying in communities long-term.

Similar to APDC in Burkina Faso, VH also tends to maternal and child health. They focus on lowering mortality and morbidity among mothers and infants using evidence-based initiatives such as weighing sessions. Here, mothers bring infants and young children in to be weighed, and community volunteers monitor body weight to gauge health and nutrition. Gathering together, the mothers create a space where they exchange stories on child-rearing, and learn how to harness available resources to best nourish their children. Within these spaces, community volunteers often facilitate discussion on methods of child-care that mothers can add to their toolkits. During a visit to Honduras, VH’s Canadian partner organization, World Neighbours Canada (WNC), noticed that men were not often present at weighing sessions. WNC wondered whether this was an impediment to gender equity. But, through the local insight of VH, they found that the social environment women fostered in the weighing sessions was vital to their identification as a collective. It was a space for them to connect with each other, and themselves, as they puzzled their way through the complexities of motherhood. Bringing men in to this space would disrupt that dynamic. So, as WNC realized the question of gender equity cannot always be reduced to a number, like the number of men and women in a room. Instead, it is equally important to take into account what the purpose of a space is, what happens there and for whom. Besides, one of the motivating markers for the men joining the agricultural training sessions VH does is the idea that diversifying crops will help serve their children’s nutritional needs. Thus, fathers care deeply for the wellbeing of their children, even if they do not come to weighing sessions.

Each of the three organizations we look at here works across three very different localities, and makes gender equity relevant to their needs through the seemingly unrelated notes of water and sanitations, food production, and child nutrition. The factor that unites TSS in Nepal, APDC in Burkina Faso, and VH in Honduras is World Neighbours Canada. WNC works with these three partner organizations to provide support with training local leaders and implementing grassroots programs. They work with the goal of promoting self-reliance by empowering TSS, APDC, and VH to identify and hone local resources to solve problems. In each of their encounters with partner organizations they are careful to listen to the needs of local communities, trusting their expertise in understanding the nuances around development. Establishing this trust is essential in working towards gender equity: a goal that extends across generations. If making transformative change means preparing the resources necessary to support that change, then WNC and its partners chart a promising course for the future as they look at what exists now and imagine what can be, empowering local people to size up the challenges they face and plan how to respond.

Burkina Faso suffers from terrorist attacks

By Judy Gray

Despite the increasing unrest in Burkina Faso, our partners on the APDC team (local rural development organization) continue to work tirelessly to support those in our project villages who are eager to improve their food security and lives in general.

The APDC Staff

This is the latest message from Charles Tankoano, APDC coordinator: “The information you have (about the possible kidnapping) is true. But everyone continues to work in the country. Moreover, the attacks are targeted and we are not very afraid to go to the project area to work. At the moment we are all well and we still do not feel enough fear to prevent us from going to the project area. Thank you very much; we understand your concerns. But we trust God.”

World Neighbours Canada has been greatly saddened by the growing insecurity in Burkina Faso due to terrorist attacks. The most recent incident involves Canadian Edith Blais, who, along with her Italian companion, has not been heard from since mid-December (they were travelling in a relatively safe part of the country). The Canadian government is attempting to learn more of the pair’s whereabouts but, to date no information has emerged (see BBC and CBC News articles for more details).

In addition to this possible kidnapping, there have been many attacks by suspected jihadists, especially in the north and east part of the country. It is evident that the attacks are not limited to Westerners, and in fact Burkinabé citizens are being targeted in greater numbers. Namoungou, one of the villages that APDC is working with, sustained an attack in December. Charles told us “The village was attacked. The jihadists hit several people and one child died. But we continue the activities because the calm has returned. Also security forces stormed the area killing 6 attackers. We cannot give up work because this is happening everywhere and the people of Burkina Faso cannot give up their activities because of this. “

According to GardaWorld, “Terrorism has become an increasingly severe security threat in Burkina Faso since 2015. Educational institutions, local government officials, and security forces are specifically targeted. Initially concentrated in the Sahel region, attacks have spread to other regions, including eastern Burkina Faso (Est region) which is also known for high crime rates. Attacks are usually attributed to Ansarul Islam and other groups affiliated with Al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). According to an official account released in mid-September, jihadist attacks have killed at least 118 people since 2015; at least 22 attacks were recorded in the Est region since February 2018.” ( for full article see: https://www.garda.com/crisis24/news-alerts/181746/burkina-faso-attack-against-security-patrol-in-est-region-dec-3)

We, of World Neighbours Canada, are hoping that the political climate in Burkina Faso improves and stabilizes so that we will again be able to visit our project villages and communicate directly with APDC staff.

Reflecting on progress in Maternal-Child Health

The Board of Directors of World Neighbours Canada met recently in West Kelowna for their Annual General Meeting. Board members responsible for communication with each of our partner NGOs – in Honduras, Burkina Faso and Nepal – provided an update on what has been achieved during the past twelve months. Highlighted here is only ONE of the achievements of the past year for each country. During the coming weeks, we will publish more in-depth articles about the activities that have taken place in each country.

Our matching grant from Global Affairs Canada is allowing us to provide much more monetary support to these grassroots organizations. Without our donors, it would not be possible for World Neighbours Canada to apply for such grants. The directors of WNC and our partner NGOs – Vecinos Honduras, TSS (Nepal) and APDC (Burkina Faso) extend a heartfelt thank you for the on-going support. Please remember our projects and our relationships are long-term and support locally appropriate initiatives. It is truly a model of participatory development.

Burkina Faso – During the past year, close to 5000 villagers have attended sensitization and/or information sessions on family planning, malnutrition, the importance of vaccinations, nutrition (how to prepare healthier, more balanced meals with local produce ) and gender equality.

Nepal – Over the past two years, TSS has supported villagers with the installation of 4012 toilets in homes in villages in Ramechhap District. This has been linked to a nation-wide campaign to encourage everyone to use proper toilets.

Honduras – The health initiative of monitoring young children for growth by measuring body weight has continued and expanded over the past year and positive results are being observed. Mothers are given advice and support in raising healthy, well-nourished children.

 

The Strength of World Neighbours Canada – Enduring Partnerships and Mutual Respect

Mother and her children at health education session. Honduras

By Bruce Petch

At World Neighbours Canada we are sometimes asked what makes us unique. There are many charities that support people in developing countries; what does World Neighbours Canada do differently?

The answer is multi-faceted. There are many aspects of our organization that inspire loyalty among our donors – we are run by volunteers, have very low overhead, and use modest fundraising approaches. The attribute of World Neighbours Canada that we hold closest to our hearts is enduring partnerships. These partnerships occur at multiple levels – between the local organizations we support and the rural people they serve; between us and the local organizations; and between World Neighbours Canada donors and its board and volunteers.

The emphasis on partnerships is rooted deep. When World Neighbors was founded in the U.S. in the 1950s, it was ahead of its time in recognizing that poor people in developing countries deserved respect. World Neighbors founders embraced the United Nations statement acknowledging the “inherent dignity” of all people.

Community Meeting – Nepal

World Neighbors evolved into an unusual organization, focusing on long-term partnerships and outcomes when many organizations worked with only a one- or two-year project term in mind. Their minimal expatriate staff – called Area Representatives – often held their positions for more than ten years, sometimes more than twenty, which was remarkable in a field where terms of more than two years were uncommon. The essence of their work was building long-term partnerships with local organizations and communities, growing leadership capacity and fostering knowledge-based development.

Local NGO APDC leading workshop in Burkina Faso

The founders of World Neighbours Canada were inspired by the commitment and effectiveness of the World Neighbors family of organizations, and created a Canadian group to support the international network. Since its inception, World Neighbours Canada has worked to establish enduring partnerships with local organizations. We have supported Tamakoshi Sewa Samiti in Nepal and Vecinos Honduras (and its predecessors) since 1989, and APDC in Burkina Faso since 2006.

Finished Tap No. 6. – Nepal

Each of these organizations takes a different approach in working with local communities. Tamakoshi Sewa Samiti is committed to improving the lives of people in the district of Ramechhap. They support the building of water systems and latrines in different villages each year, and provide technical back-up for as long as is needed (nearly all of the water systems installed with TSS support continue to operate; in one or two locations, the water source has become intermittent). Vecinos Honduras takes a holistic approach to community development, gradually building local capacity for continuous improvement in agriculture and health. Typically, after 5-6 years they phase out intensive support, and instead provide advice to local committees or cooperatives. APDC similarly engages in a wide range of activities with villages, and shifts emphasis as local leadership takes on more responsibility.

Community members are taught how to test and treat for malnutrition.

Coupled with the theme of enduring partnerships is mutual respect. We respect the abilities and insights of our local partner organizations. They are led by some of the brightest and most committed people in their respective countries. Furthermore, we recognize that people who are materially poor are not bereft of ideas and ingenuity. We have the greatest respect for their ability to survive under extraordinarily difficult conditions, and to improve the lives of their families when given the opportunity and the knowledge to harness clean water, grow more crops, and raise healthier children.

This plantain harvest will help feed the family.

Au Revoir Charles!

World Neighbours Canada hosted Charles Tankoano, Executive Director of the NGO APDC (Association d’Appui à la Promotion du Développement durable des Communautés) – our partner NGO in Burkina Faso, from March 8-17. In that time he traveled with one of our Directors, Judy Gray and her husband Peter, from Kamloops to Osoyoos, and then on to Vancouver. During this time he gave 17 presentations, to roughly 450 people, in 8 days. He spoke to elementary, secondary and university students (some in English and some in French) as well as several presentations to the public.

He was able to conduct a video conference with GAC staff in Ottawa (thanks to facilities and support provided by the BC Council for International Cooperation). Furthermore, BCCIC staff conducted an in-depth interview with Charles and an article about him and the work of APDC will appear soon in the BCCIC newsletter.

We feel that the tour was hugely successful. Charles was deeply honoured to be invited to come to Canada and share the activities of APDC. Conversely, all the groups that Charles presented to were surprised by the number of activities APDC is undertaking and felt they learned a considerable amount through the presentations about the work that GAC and WNC are supporting in a little known and extremely poor country in West Africa, namely Burkina Faso.

A special thank you goes to Judy and Peter who not only played host but helped with the presentations. Judy acted as translator, as Charles only speaks French, for many of the presentations and interviews, and Peter ran the technical side of the presentation making sure the projector and slide shows worked to compliment the talk.

Despite the exhausting pace, and that there was little time to recover from jetlag, we hope that Charles enjoyed his visit to Canada. Despite thinking it was very cold here he did have fantastic sunny days for traveling and a short tour around Stanley Park. He even had a bit of time for a little shopping!

Charles Tankoano’s recent visit was made possible through a World Neighbours Canada Society grant from Global Affairs Canada under the Maternal Newborn Child Health initiative.

Merci!

Burkina Faso Update – APDC members safe

The APDC Staff

We are relieved to hear that our APDC affiliates and their families are safe after the terrorist attack in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, March 2nd.

Yesterday, a Mali-based al Qaeda affiliate, Jama’a Nusrat ul-Islam wa al-Muslimin (JNIM), claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Obviously, tensions are high in Burkina Faso and we, in Canada, must wait to see how things play out.

Burkina Faso is one of the twentieth poorest countries in the world. Life expectancy for men is 59 years and women 61. There are large gold deposits in the country but the majority of the population is engaged in agriculture. It is in these subsistence communities that APDC does their work.

For more information on the claims by JNIM see https://www.reuters.com/article/us-burkina-security/al-qaeda-affiliate-claims-responsibility-for-burkina-faso-attacks-idUSKCN1GF0GS

For a brief summary of Burkina Faso see http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-13072774

A Visitor from Burkina Faso

Charles Tankoano

World Neighbours Canada is very excited to announce that Charles Tankoano, Executive Director of the NGO APDC (Association d’Appui à la Promotion du Développement durable des Communautés) – our partner NGO in Burkina Faso, will be in British Columbia this March and available to talk to schools, donors, and community groups about their work.

This will be the first time that World Neighbours has hosted a project partner from Burkina Faso. Mr. Tankoano speaks French but WNC members Judy and Peter Gray will be attending to assist with translation.

Mr. Tankoano will be traveling from Kamloops to Osoyoos and then on to Vancouver between March 12-17. This will be a great opportunity to hear about the successes and challenges of community development in rural Eastern Burkina Faso.

Burkina Faso is a landlocked country in West Africa, north of Ghana.  Called “Upper Volta” in colonial times, the country lies in the savanna and Sahel zones, the wide band of semi-arid grasslands with scattered trees that separates the Sahara from the forested areas to the south. World Neighbours Canada supports the burkinabé NGO, APDC, and it is this organization that organizes and implements the project activities.

APDC Staff

APDC has experienced great success by using the empowerment of women as a starting point for community development.  This begins with motivation and training of women in maternal health and child nutrition.  In addition, APDC encourages the women to participate in State organized training sessions in literacy and numeracy.  Women are encouraged to form savings and credit groups, and use or borrow from these funds to engage in income generation activities. Villagers are now growing more vegetables and learning how to care for livestock such as goats and sheep. Since 2008, the program has slowly expanded and now includes 18 villages in the Fada region.

Currently, funding for the activities is being provided, in large part, by Global Affairs Canada (GAC) as part of the Canadian government’s initiatives for improved Maternal, Newborn and Child Health in developing countries. These initiatives will contribute to the reduction of mortality and morbidity, especially in mothers and infants, and also to improving nutrition and development of young children. The current funding grant from GAC covers the period March 2016 to the end of March 2020.

To arrange for Mr. Tankoano to talk to your organization please contact Judy Gray by email at peterjudy1352@gmail.com.

What does Canada’s new International Feminist Policy mean to World Neighbours?

By Gabriel Newman

The Canadian Government has recently changed its international aid policy to focus on gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. In fact, it is the first country in the world to come out with a Feminist International Aid Policy. Previously, the focus was directed to specific countries but now with a new government there is a change of direction. The Executive Summary for the Policy states:

“The last three decades have seen dramatic reductions in global poverty, but not everyone has benefited equally. Hundreds of millions of people, especially women and girls, are still poor, have unequal access to resources and opportunities, and face major risks of violent conflict, climate and environmental hazards, and/or economic and political insecurity. By eliminating barriers to equality and helping to create better opportunities, women and girls can be powerful agents of change and improve their own lives and those of their families, communities and countries. This is a powerful way to reduce poverty for everyone.”

We, at World Neighbours, applaud these efforts as we have seen first hand the effect of systemic sexism on communities. These funding policies mean that should we wish to qualify for funding from Global Affairs Canada we need to make sure we meet all the criteria laid out in the new Feminist International Assistance Policy. This is easier said than done. While we have always endeavoured to encourage projects that promote gender equality within communities there are many barriers to meet these new criteria.  Some of these barriers are internal, as they will force us on the Board to rethink how we approach each project. But perhaps the largest barrier lies within our partnering organizations because this is a dramatic shift of thinking and at odds with some traditional cultural norms. Supporting and empowering women in communities is certainly supported by our partner organizations but the process and expectations may not align as closely as we would like. The Policy not only wants to see certain results, it wants the entire process of aid to embody the policy objectives.

Luckily, we have some time to work with our partner organizations and provide training, if needed, to bring them up to speed before we need to apply for project funding. There are also numerous opportunities, such as webinars and training sessions, to help bring us, on the Board, up to speed on these expectations.

Admittedly, this author is definitely trying to figure out what all of this means. I will let you know as things progress. If you want to read the entire policy, check out Canada’s Feminist International Aid Policy.