At CDF Canada we support women and girls in strengthening their leadership skills and building their own agency. At the same time, we promote transformation of harmful gender norms and unequal power relations among men and women. As we partner with community-owned co-operatives, our gender mainstreaming process begins by analyzing gendered issues of access and control, consulting with local stakeholders and developing strategies to overcome the barriers of women’s access to financial services, capacity for income generation, and control over decision-making. We recognize that male engagement is paramount in breaking down the barriers to gender equality, and we foster positive masculinities who can support women along with us at the individual, household, community, and institutional levels.
Successful examples of our approaches include men and women who participate in Gender Model Family training, which allows them to address unequal power relations and decision-making regarding household resources. By learning about gender roles and relations, families can identify how the unequal division of labour affects and limits their potential for economic growth and overall well-being. They learn how to equally distribute unpaid work among men and women, and as a result, experience collective benefits, such as increased household income and quality time as a family. This transfers to overall enhanced community cohesiveness as men encourage others to support women’s leadership. Our projects also provide training for women to develop their professional skills and excel as entrepreneurs, all with the help and support of their husbands and male family members.
In addition, CDF Canada’s Women’s Mentorship Program (WMP) engages managers employed in financial co-operatives from around the world. This month-long program is a combination of classroom learning and a hosted placement in a Canadian credit union. The placement offers mentoring and knowledge-sharing and exchange opportunities with Canadian savings and credit union professionals. By strengthening professional and personal growth for women in co-operatives, the WMP is building leadership capacity among women at a global scale.
In combination with CDF Canada’s Integrated Co-operative Model (ICM), our projects’ Gender Equality components are part of a holistic and collaborative approach to achieving sustainable economic and social development.