Determined to Develop recognizes that there are many challenges facing women in rural Malawi and as such, one of our cornerstones is Women’s Empowerment. Determined to Develop empowers local women in Malawi by helping them grow financial resilience. By supporting women’s groups we will benefit entire communities, as women are more likely to spend their profits to benefit families. Sadly, women in Malawi have very few opportunities available to them. Determined to Develop is working to change this by working with women’s groups on programs that empower beneficiaries, encourage economic growth, and inspire the next generation of girls. The cornerstone consists of two programming areas, livelihoods and adult education.
As a number of rural people in Malawi are not involved in the formal banking sector, many keep wealth in animals, and in our Women’s Revolving Goat Projects the currency is goats. Women who have been identified as vulnerable are invited into the scheme in which they are given two goats that are bred and repaid to the project, then lent to other women. D2D currently runs two separate Women’s Revolving Goat Projects. In the pilot project, an initial 40 goats were distributed to 20 women. The project increased to 60 women within the first six months, and continues to grow. The group is led by an elected committee of 10 women who have successfully been able to take ownership over the project.The project aims to contribute to economic stability and social empowerment for vulnerable women in the community. The goats can be used for income, savings, and insurance for the members and their families. There is also a nutritional benefit for families, who can consume the goat’s milk, and the manure can be used to grow crops.
Determined to Develop provides support for a number of women’s groups in the Chilumba area. In a joint project with the International Citizen Service, D2D is working with four separate women’s groups in the Chilumba region, to improve the women’s financial security, and empower them through having agency over their livelihoods, and being part of a strong group. D2D supports the groups to establish an Income Generating Activity (IGA), and lead community development initiatives. The project also consists of providing and initiating a small store to serve as an outlet for the goods produced through the women’s groups IGAs.
According to UNICEF (2007) approximately 67 percent of women in Malawi are literate. Adult education is important for women as it gives them agency by allowing them to join local committee groups and ultimately participate in their own development. Literacy is often a requirement for those sitting on committees and is an invaluable skill in terms of expanding economic activities. There is also a correlation between the education levels of parents and their children’s performance at school. With the ability to read, parents are able to follow progress reports and assist with school work.
Determined to Develop believes that if we can enhance adult learning throughout the community, we will be able to build a better platform for development. We run adult literacy lessons focusing on reading and writing in the national language of Malawi, Chichewa. These lessons employ a local teacher, and are run three times a week. Among the attendees are members of the Women’s Revolving Goat Club. We hope to be able to set up more classes across Chilumba to allow women, who rarely have access to a bicycle or public transport, the chance to attend classes.