Monday, September 30, 2013

Women become their own leaders by holding decision makers accountable

Low participation in public policy issues by women and other vulnerable groups in decision making and community initiatives often stands in the way of holding the development agenda in their hands and ensuring that their priority needs are met. However, armed with a score card women in Gatsibo District in Rwanda are organizing their communities and have become their own leaders by holding decision makers accountable. This has made them a formidable force for change in their communities.

Under the Public Policy Information Monitoring and Advocacy project (PPIMA) in the district, women community mobilizers, or animators, spearhead identification of needs in their communities and inform other community members. This marks the beginning of an engagement process that agrees on the needs to be addressed with the involvement of decision makers and service providers.

By employing the concept of the score card, the communities identify their pressing issues directly affecting them, whether in health, education, agriculture and other sectors, in relation to governance and service provision.

The score card is a tool in which the women and their communities decide on specific service indicators to assist them track the pace of addressing their needs. Based on this they give scores and the reasons for the scores on the progress made by the decision makers and/or service providers. The scores are then analyzed and ranked to identify the gaps, forming the basis in planning how to address them.

Women remain among the most marginalized, along with the youth, people living with disabilities and the historically marginalized peoples. However, women have often suffered the “double tragedy” of not only being women, but at the same time being marginalized as youth or people living with disabilities, and in other marginalized groups.

Women in Gatsibo District spearhead the identification of service delivery issues in their communities paying special attention on the marginalized groups to ensure their participation. This has helped them articulate the issues in all their dimensions in the community.

The PPIMA project was initiated in 2009 to respond to the issues related to governance, service delivery, accountability and community participation at all levels of development programming at the decentralized levels. The communities work in collaboration with service providers where they agree on issues and come up with solutions, including agreeing on issues to be included at the district and national levels as development priorities.

The process has proved empowering as it directly places the development agenda on the hands of the women and their communities based on their needs and issues.

The PPIMA project is a collaboration between RWN  and the Norwegian People’s Aid and is being implemented in 40 villages in Gatsibo District.

Rwanda Women's Network (RWN) is one of the four partner institutes of the African Centers of Excellence (ACE) for Women's Leadership program run by the Institute of International Education (IIE) , Ethiopia Office.
For more on IIE , ACE or RWN please follow the links below.