'Women can accomplish great things!': A success story!

Posted May 23, 2016 from Uganda

It used to be that villagers would chase after Cecilia João, shouting, when she went about on her motorcycle. Now they not only accept that a woman can handle a motorcycle, but that women can handle all sorts of positions of authority in many rural communities in the Tambara District, Manica Province, Mozambique.

Cecilia started working with Oxfam Canada partner Magariro, the Community Development Association, in 2002.She was the only woman on Magariro’s Tambara district field team when Oxfam Canada’s Sustainable Livelihoods and Agriculture Program was set up in 2005 to improve rural life in several poor districts of central Mozambique.

She says she has grown a lot since then. And so have the communities where she works. “Several opportunities for training and reflection that resulted from the partnership of Magariro and Oxfam Canada have led to my understanding of the dynamics about inequalities between men and women,” Cecilia says. She learned concrete strategies to help women assert themselves and gain acceptance as community leaders.“The program has changed many things in people's lives as well. At first, I was the only woman working as a field extension worker in the district, and there were only two female employees at the administrative post in the district office."

“When riding a motorcycle, men and women in the communities shouted and pursued me, not believing that a woman can handle a motorcycle. When we organized community meetings, people arrived with bags in hand, hoping that they would receive food or other goods. It was a huge job to deconstruct this dependence, reassuring people, particularly women, to try and believe they can accomplish great things!”

Women now hold leadership roles in the community as never before. Among them are a school director, positions of authority at the town and village level, and head administrator in Buzua district. In the farmer’s association, there are women leaders and members of advisory boards in district forums. There are women managers of savings and credit groups.

“This was unthinkable in 2005,” Cecilia says. “In the case of the savings and credit group inNhacafula, a woman is the leader, while a traditional chief is just a member. Before, no one would accept that a woman could be in a higher position of leadership than a local chief.

"These changes represent a big win for everyone,” she says. “We demonstrate the importance of change by making changes ourselves. Actions and role models are stronger than words!”

Thanks to Cecilia João for telling the story of how her life was improved as a result of the support of Oxfam Canada and Mozambican partner organization Magariro (Community Development Association) through the 2005-2011 Sustainable Livelihoods and Agriculture Program.

Link to source: http://www.oxfam.ca/our-work/success-stories/women-can-accomplish-great-...

Comments 5

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Julie Collura
May 23, 2016
May 23, 2016

Thank you for sharing this story of positive change! Cecilia is an inspiration for women everywhere.

May 24, 2016
May 24, 2016

It's so great to hear how more and more women are being seen as having the same competence in men! It's especially important to have more women in leadership positions to inspire other young girls and women - to show them that both sexes have the potential to have an impact in their own community and country. Thanks for sharing!!

May 25, 2016
May 25, 2016

Dear Helen,

Thank you for your comments that give so much encouragements. Together we shall continue inspiring more women and girls to explore in such areas.

May 25, 2016
May 25, 2016

 Thank you Cecilia João for taking that brave step, yes women are really on the move we want more women like you in our various communities, to step out and #change the narrative. Thank so much Grace for sharing this story

May 26, 2016
May 26, 2016

Dear Ikirimat, 

What a wonderful image to set the scene for women achieving equal standing in a society that had oppressed them for so long. I can picture the sweet taste of freedom as hot wind kisses Cecilia's face. 

The fight for women's equality is obviously still ongoing, but it is a battle worth fighting. You ensure that these strides don't happen overnight, but that "actions and role models are stronger than words." It seems that the organizations that gave Cecilia a voice in her community, like World Pulse, continue to provide women with tools to becoming leaders. The word  "grow" is such an accurate representation of the way these communities have given women back their power as leaders. That roles traditionally ordained to men have become women's roles. This is how a mature and empowered society functions.

Thank you for sharing Cecilia's story. 

I hope to read more about your work.