Gender Project Changes Lives

Jun 25, 2021

Addressing gender-based violence (GBV) requires a multi-pronged approach.

As well: as provision of counselling and legal services to victims; working with the church, traditional leaders and schools to help end child marriage; and training whole communities in ending GBV, ABM’s partner, Zambia Anglican Council Outreach Program (ZACOP) has set up a system of Savings with Education groups to help lift families out of poverty.

Before the recent third wave of COVID-19 spread throughout Zambia, we received these stories from ZACOP on the success of Savings with Education Groups in the four Eastern Zambian communities in which ABM’s Integrated Gender project operates. Savings with Education is available to all community members, but women are especially encouraged to join. Some of those who are survivors of Gender-based violence have formed their own groups.

Savings with Education groups are trained in pooling and managing their savings in mini-group “banks”. There are about 20 people in each group. They elect some of their members to manage and keep track of the savings, and they meet regularly to borrow (at low interest), pay-back and invest more savings in the group fund. Each members’ contributions and interest earnings are tracked. From time to time a speaker will attend a group meeting to provide information or education on a range of topics. Group membership enables members to have more incentive to save, to borrow, pay-back and borrow again. Most members use the access to small amounts of capital to build up small businesses, improve their houses or farms, or send children to school.

Elina’s husband had a problem with alcohol addiction and left her to care alone for their four children. Fortunately, three years ago, Elina was able to join a Savings with Education group in her village of Msoro in Eastern Zambia which they called “Tilimbike”. Over the three years since she joined, Elina has built a four-roomed house, and has been able to send her two older children to secondary school. She has also started a small business selling fritters, cooking oil and vegetables. Elina plans to connect her house to electricity via solar panels later this year. She’s very thankful to ABM and ZACOP for introducing her to Savings with Education.

Margret is another member of the Tilimbike group. She has been in the savings group for 2 years. In her first year of savings, she managed to buy 22 iron sheets and 16 bags of cement. She then moulded bricks to build a four-roomed house.

Stephen belongs to Mabvuto Yatha Savings with Education Group in Petauke. With his first loan he bought fertiliser and farming inputs. After two years he has bought a motorbike and built a shop within his village of Kangambwa. He uses his motorbike to purchase groceries to supply the shop which serves his community. This has helped people to access goods within the village, so they don’t have to travel to the larger town for daily needs.

Diana has also been growing her business through Savings with Education. Starting with rearing and selling broiler chickens, Diana was able to build a house and connect it to electricity using solar panels. She now buys maize grain from the farmers and stores it for sale later. Diana expects to raise 27, 000 Zambian kwacha (about $1,600) from this business.

For some, the Savings with Education provides undreamed-of opportunities. Selemani volunteered to be trained as a facilitator of a group. He says: During the first sharing-out by the group, I got a loan and bought farming inputs – fertilizer and seeds. I had a bumper harvest, and from the sales of maize, I was able to buy iron sheets and other materials for building a small house. During the second year, after the share-out I managed to buy cattle and a plough. In the third year after realising a good harvest, I managed to extend my house to a four-roomed house. Now I am looking forward to plastering, putting in the floor and painting it.

“Not going to college after completing my grade 12, I thought I would not make it in life. Now, through the Gender project, I have achieved a lot. I own a house; I am able to provide for my family and I’m currently working for the Anglican Church as a Field Officer for Ending Child Marriages. Through this work, I am able to use the skills I have gained in counselling, facilitation and community mobilisation. Today, I am one of the people who are depended on and respected in my community because they see me as an advocate for change‘’.

Elina, Margret, Diana, Stephen and Selemani all wished to thank ZACOP and ABM for the opportunities these Savings with Education groups have given them.

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ABM acknowledges the support of the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).