Gender Model Family – Training of Trainers

When Machinga co-operative member Maria Dixon was asked if she wanted to become part of the Gender Model Family project, her reply was “Kwambiri!” This is the Chichewa word for very much. Maria’s enthusiasm overflowed during the two-day training she attended along with 18 other members of eight co-operatives in the Zomba district in early May 2023. Her daughter Saviour Chapande also participated in the workshop organized by CDF Canada and its Malawi partner, the Malawi Federation of Cooperatives (MAFECO). In many ways, Saviour lived up to her name as she was welcomed with open arms and hearts.  

A smiling woman and her child.

A woman and her child participate in Gender Model Family training. Photo credit: Merrianne Couture

Gender Model Family (GMF) is an approach to enhance gender equality in co-operatives and their families. The VOICE for Women and Girls program, supported by Global Affairs Canada, is currently in year four-of-a-seven-year commitment.  

While The GMF approach in Malawi is in its early stages, the initial training sessions were productive.  

As a mother of four daughters, Maria wants to make sure her daughters become well educated so they have an empowered future. She says being an active member of the Phandiro co-operative for the last four years has also helped the family with their rice cultivation, and their ability to leverage this crop. She adds the GMF training is another way she contributes to her community.  

In total, CDF Canada and MAFECO delivered five training sessions – from Dowa and Lilongwe to Zomba – and reached over 75 co-operative members.

Gender Model Family 
As part of CDF Canada’s approaches towards gender transformation, the Gender Model Family (GMF) approach is incorporated to address gender inequalities at both the household and community levels by promoting equitable division of unpaid work. It begins with training on basic gender concepts to build an understanding of the unequal distribution of care work between men and women. After the initial training sessions on gender awareness, participants assess the division of domestic chores in their own household and compare the daily activity profiles of women and men. They then work together to devise a household action plan that assigns chores in a more equitable way. As both men and women contribute to household work, they have time to engage in other income-generating activities and have more free time to enjoy as a family. This involves a series of trainings and follow-up sessions. 

To date, the approach has brought on positive outcomes for project participants, in terms of more gender-equitable family dynamics and overall community cohesiveness. Along with CDF Canada’s co-operative development approaches that create an enabling environment for Women’s Economic Empowerment, the GMF approach is fostering social transformations that allow women to develop their professional skills and excel as entrepreneurs, all with the help and support of their husbands and male family members. 


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