Women’s Access-to and Control-over Economic Resources and Social Protection.
Majority of Sierra Leonean women tend to be economically dependent on their husbands and partners for their daily welfare. Without their own resources to fall back on, women are unlikely to leave their husbands even when their health and well-being is threatened in the relationship. Economic dependency on the abuser is a very real reason for remaining in abusive relationship. Most women are subjected to horrendous living conditions in their homes and most often resulting to little or no external interaction. When such women experienced abuse, they most often lack support systems especially when her family ties and friendship may have been destroyed. So promoting women’s economic and social empowerment through local saving groups and business skills training program will enormously contribute to reducing women’s vulnerability to violence in their homes and improve on their external social support network.
LEWAF’s Economic and Social Empowerment program is formulated to ensure that Women have access-to and control over economic resources AND are part of decision making process in the home & Community. We do this through specialised ‘Women’s Economic and Social Empowerment’ project activities which aims at enhancing women’s LIVELIHOOD opportunities and SOCIAL PROTECTION – seeking to reduce their ‘chronic dependency’ and ‘apparent vulnerability’ to Gender-based Violence in the homes and communities.
LEWAF will adopt a methodology that have been tried and tested in many West African countries including Sierra Leone with a great degree of success especially in remote and deprived communities. The methodology is outline in a curriculum refer to as “Economic and Social Empowerment” (EaSE). The EaSE curriculum is made-up of three components. These three components are interlinked in such a way that the implementation cycle is said to be completed when a beneficiary has benefited from all three components. These are (1) Community Women Savings and Loan Association (CWSLA) (2) Discussion Group Series (DGS) and (3) Business Development Skills Training (BDS).
CWSLA – The CWSLA will allow women to have a safe place to save their money,
access loans and receive support during emergencies. One of the most revolutionary aspects of CWSLA is that it is driven entirely by the members. The increased access to financial services will result in promoting women’s economic empowerment
DGS – The Discussion Group Series create an environment where women participating in the CWSLA activity and their spouse/partners can come together and evaluate how they can together improve their household financial well-being. These discussions will (a) allow men to understand and value women’s contributions to the household, (b) encourage men and women communicate more effectively, (c) demonstrate the value of shared decision making and the value for men to relinquish some power in the household. The focus on the themes related to gender roles and violence are woven throughout the sessions. A session focuses on alternatives to using violence as a means of asserting power and control. As a result, women will acquire increased decision making power in the household free from violence.
BDS training – It focuses on the individual as an entrepreneur and on equipping women with business skills and knowledge to enable them to start or expand their business. The creation or expansion of business activities will allow women to have a reliable and diversified source of income. As a result women will have improved livelihoods.
The EA$E model was developed based on the hypothesis that a combination of improved economic status and decision-making power in the household can reduce
women’s vulnerability to violence in the home and generate value and respect for the woman in her home and community. The diagram below further illustrates the hypothesis.