With support from Global Fund for Women, EASSI mobilised 90 women leaders from selected women’s groups in Goma (DRC/Rwanda), Uvira and Bukavu (DRC/Burundi) border areas who were trained as Trainers of Trainers (TOTs) in Entrepreneurship and the Peace economy, Life skills, Leadership, and Business skills using Do IT Yourself manuals that were translated into French to facilitate easier learning.
Each training targeted 30 women leaders who upon completion of the three days’ workshops were awarded with certificates as TOTs and assisted to draw work plans where each of them committed to share the newly acquired knowledge with at least 20 women. It was also agreed that the TOTs would integrate the learning in their routine group meetings thus making it a sustainable and transformational approach.
As a follow up, EASSI conducted a support, monitoring and evaluation visit to Uvira and Bukavu to establish how the trained trainers were fairing in terms of training other women in the groups. 3 groups were visited per border area and it was found that they had all incorporated the trainings in their weekly group meetings. Towards the end of each meeting, they would identify the following week’s topic in a participatory way with their group members based on their actual group needs or identified gaps and would then plan accordingly. In the same meeting, a trainer would be agreed upon and members would be encouraged to invite other women that are not necessarily their registered group members in order to widen the knowledge sharing. This approach has not only ensured sustainability but also enhanced cohesion, networking and general value addition to the overall significance of the women’s groups to their communities.
In Uvira border area, the TOTs have lobbied the market management committees for them to regularly conduct trainings during the weekly market days thus reaching some many people with minimal resources.
The training in life skills such as self- awareness, decision making and advocacy skills prepared the women to meaningfully negotiate peace. The interactive approach to training – in which participants were actively involved and felt their views and contributions were valued – helped women and girls realize the power of their own voices to contribute to positive change. At the same time, those that are trained as peer educators got direct and immediate experience in taking on leadership roles hence ensuring sustainability.
In the course of the trainings, women leaders would discuss and analyze existing power structures and how to collectively challenge them. Women were empowered to stand up together to represent themselves, instead of relying on professional advocates to speak up on their behalf.