Friday, November 28, 2014

What Is "Socioeconomic Empowerment" for a Woman? Part 1

Socioeconomics empowerment is a combination of a woman’s freedom, power and access to resources in her home, place of employment and community. The following questions can be asked to evaluate a woman’s socioeconomic position within a community:

  1. Do you feel like you have a say in household decision-making, such as how and what to spend money on regarding your family’s food, education and health?
  2. Do you feel like you have a voice acquiring, allocating, and selling assets such as property, transportation or other major purchases?
  3. Do you feel like your daughters and the young girls in your family have same access to the same quality and level of education as their male counterparts?
  4. Do you feel like you have a choice in your own reproductive and fertility decisions?
  5. Do you feel like you have a choice in how land that affects you is used and conserved?
  6. Do you feel like you are safe from violence in your home?
  7. Do you feel like you are safe from violence In your community?
  8. Do you feel like you have access to the education, training and technology you desire?
  9. Do you feel like you have access to knowledge about your legal rights as a woman in your community?
  10. Do you feel like you have access to general health and reproductive health care?
  11. Do you feel like you have access to equal wages in your job?
  12. Do you feel like you have equal access to credit and financial loans?
  13. Do you feel safe at work and free from violence, harassment and discrimination?
  14. Do you feel like you have a voice in the decision-making process in your community and government?

Although this list of questions is by no way exclusive, I believe it is a good starting point to analyze the issue.  Over the next coming months I will be asking these questions of the women Willow Tree Roots serve in an effort to best determine how our programs can help these amazing women.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Over the summer, Willow Tree Roots founder Tiffani Sharp visited with the women who provide the amazing jewelry products for Mama Willow Tree. She was pleased to have met with Catherine from the Namayiana Maasai Women’s Group. The group provides Mama Willow Tree with most of the amazing jewelry currently featured a Mama Willow Tree.

At the time it was drought season in the region where the Maasai community is located, which generally lasts from June until October. It had not rained for months and the ground was extremely dry. Catherine indicated that the ground is so dry that the livestock to not have food to eat and are essentially eating dirt. Since the cows were not eating anything of value, they are also not producing milk, which makes it difficult to survive during this season. During these months it is also a slow time for their jewelry sales and therefore there is little income coming into the community. In order for the girls in the community to receive an education (which is one of the reasons the group was formed) they must be sent to a different village. This comes at a financial burden to most in the community, particularly during these months of economic strain. But, at least when the girls are away at school receiving an education, the families have one less mouth to feed.

In addition to obtaining more items for Mama Willow Tree, Catherine was able to provide founder Tiffani Sharp with amazing insight into their lives by sharing a remarkable story of the impact your support has had on this community. When the Maasai women recieved the Mama Willow Tree order, drought season was upon them. One woman who had been paid to produce some of the items for the order asked Catherine “who is this Tiffani? Mama Willow?” She explained to Catherine that before receiving the order and her portion of payment, that her husband had considered the possibility of having one of their daughters killed because they could not afford to send her to school and they could not afford for her to remain in the village during the period of extreme drought. And that her portion of payment for the order had come just in time and that she used to money to send her daughter to school the very next day, thereby avoiding the need for the family to make a dire decision regarding this young girl’s life.

The impact that support for these women has on the lives of these in the community, particularly the women and children are profound and rippling. Thank you!