By Doreen Nanyonga
M&E and Documentation Officer, PELUM Uganda
This week my colleague John Bosco Okaya of Community Empowerment for Rural Development (CEFORD) and I embarked on a journey to Juba, South Sudan to train Oxfam South Sudan staff and its partners on the Gender Action Learning System (GALS) methodology for their DFID HARISS project. This is the first GALS training of its kind in the country and we are so proud to be a part of it. Our journey started on Saturday 5th August 2017 from Kampala and will end on Monday 14th August 2017.
About the GALS methodology
GALS is a community-led empowerment methodology using specific participatory processes and diagram tools which aims to give women as well as men more control over their lives as the basis for individual, household, community and organisational development (Mayoux, 2014). GALS is not only a ‘methodology for women’, but a mainstreaming methodology for women and men to address gender issues important to the effectiveness of any development. The GALS methodology provides practical tools and an all-inclusive participatory process and platform for individuals and groups to analyse their livelihoods with a gender perspective and take practical steps to address gender inequalities such as the division of labour and household chores between women and men, decision making about income, expenditures and assets and reduction of alcohol abuse and violence.
A key focus is breaking through gender-based barriers at individual level and changing gender inequalities within the family as challenges which prevent both women and men from achieving their vision.
GALS Tools introduced to participants so far
Participants to the training are Oxfam staff and partners who work in various parts of South Sudan. They are all working towards the development of communities that have already been affected by war, culture and other forces. GALS is being brought on board to support mainstreaming of gender in programming as well as improving livelihoods within households.
It is Day four of the training and already, we have introduced participants to the Vision Road Journey, the Gender Balance Tree, the Empowerment Map and the Challenge Action Tree. With each tool introduced to participants, there is more learning and appreciation of the methodology as a planning tool that communities can easily adopt. We can already see positive changed in attitudes and opinions of participants towards the methodology compared to Day 1 of the training. For instance, where they once thought GALS was not relevant for the fishing sector because it is male dominated, now we are hearing more of , ‘after discussions and getting to understand the methodology, I know that women too have potential. They can fish if given the opportunity’. We can’t wait to hear more of these intial changes in attitudes among facilitators and households.
About the Oxfam Project in South Sudan
You see, the Oxfam office in SS is implementing a DFID funded project referred to as the Humanitarian, Assistance and Resilience in South Sudan (HARISS). The 4-year project is titled, “Building the resilience of women, men, and youth in South Sudan by protecting and strengthening their ability to withstand environmental and conflict related disasters and shocks”. The project seeks to strengthen livelihood and local leadership capacity of conflict affected communities and local and national policy and practice to create a self-determinant and resilient context, enabling people to pursue their aspirations equitably, freely and with confidence and dignity. By focusing on women and youth groups, local leadership and business who want to invest in their community, Oxfam seeks to achieve an environment that bends, not breaks to current and future crises.
The project seeks to work with households using GALS to achieve behaviour change, ensuring that there is space created for women to take decisions and benefit equally with men from the proceeds of the DFID HARISS project.
Expect more photo updates in the coming days!!