Gender equality

QSA recognises that sustainable development and poverty reduction can best be achieved with the active participation of as many stakeholders as possible. It seeks through its project selection, design and implementation, to promote the human rights and dignity of all involved, to enhance gender equity and to address gender imbalance in all aspects of the project. Also QSA is aware that traditional gender roles may have religious and cultural roots and be deeply entrenched in the community, requiring understanding and sensitivity in addressing them. (QSA Governance Policy on Development).

The Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) of which QSA is a member, in line with global thinking and evidence, identifies “gender equality as an essential prerequisite for a fair, just and equitable world. Gender equality is a human right, with every woman and girl entitled to live in dignity and in freedom from fear. It is also a development goal in itself, as well as a means of achieving other development goals”.

Zimbabwe

Working with project partner Dabane Waterworks, QSA and DFAT have supported the preparation of The Gender and Clean Water Supply video, designed to outline the different and diverse roles played by women, men, boys and girls in the collection, management and use of clean water supplies. 21 People from Bhejela gardens (14 women, 2 men, 3 girls and 2 boys) participated in the design and development of the video. The video demonstrates that women use water for domestic activities such as washing, drinking and bathing while men use it for income generation activities like making bricks and livestock use. It also clearly shows the long distances women and girls face as the primary carriers of water from its source to the home for all these activities, including the security risks they cope with on their journey. After watching the video a discussion is facilitated by a Dabane trainer with participants, on the need for gender sensitivity in water resource management and for women, as key users, to participate in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) decision making processes. Communities have said that the video has enlightened them on the need for increased sharing of roles and responsibilities when it comes to water collection and management. For the Bhejela garden group one specific outcome of the DVD development process and its use as a training tool, has been the integration of women onto community WASH structures like the Village Water and Sanitation Sub Committee and Water Point Management committee, which previously had been dominated by men.

Photo credit QSA

Cambodia

QSA with support from DFAT currently works with project partners that have a keen interest in empowering women and addressing gender inequality for individuals, in the household and community. Most of QSA’s project partners address gender equality through women’s economic empowerment programs, working with women (as the primary project participant) and their families through activities to strengthen food and water security, environmental sustainability and income generation. Through these activities gendered health and social issues are also targeted - for example programs incorporate education around reproductive health rights, land and property rights, domestic violence, and challenging the benefit of gendered roles and responsibilities in the household.

Photo credit QSA

Tamil Nadu, S India

QSA and DFAT’s project partner Vasandham Society is working to address issues relating to gender inequality. 173 women’s self-help groups developed into federations through whom a range of community inspired actions have peacefully occurred. Women’s leadership roles have been strengthened with women managing loan repayments for micro-credit initiatives, taking on leadership roles in the group and federation meetings, and utilising local dispute resolution mechanisms. They have also used the federations to address issues they have identified as important to their communities including improved bus services, unencumbered access to open water reservoirs by restricting agricultural encroachment, and the development of community initiated ways to address domestic violence, reduction of child marriages and dowry issues. They have also been working with high school drop-out students by raising awareness on the advantages of education, initiating a scholarship scheme with payments for costs associated with the last 2 years of schooling, thereby reducing incidence of child marriages especially for girls. In one District, a survey in 100 villages of their last 3 marriage candidates revealed 42 brides were under 18, and 19 were under the age of 16 years.

Photo Vasandham Society