DB: Samke, what attracted you to the WLRI course?
Samke: So, in my work I facilitate capacity building sessions with women working on farms with the aim to build their agency, to empower them, but most importantly to enable them to have a voice in decision making spaces. I think that is one of the gaps we have identified as an organization in terms of participation of women in terms of decision-making platforms and spaces.
It’s always such a difficult situation where you are working with women and you are in a meeting but they won’t bring their voices with regards to land matters. For example, if there is a norm or belief that when we talk about land it has to be men who take decisions; it has to be men who talk about it; or it has to be household heads, and the assumption is that the ‘household head’ means, a man.
And so for me it was interesting to see a course of this nature. I thought, ‘I need to be there so I can empower the women that I work with.’ But not just to empower them, but to give them tools so they can navigate around this issue of participating in land matters.
DB: In practical terms, then, how will the course help you in your work?
Samke: So I’ll give an example. We’ve already had some interesting topics. There’s analysis that relates to how you identify gaps in terms of women’s inclusivity in terms of policies or laws. So: does this policy include women or does it speak to men? And if it includes women, how does it include women? For me, those sorts of questions are useful to take back into community meetings when you’re having a discussion…so that when women enter into these spaces or into decision making spaces, they’re able to identify or have these triggers: ‘OK this is what I need to look for. This is the policy. How does it benefit women? How does it make it an inclusive process for women? Are women catered for?’
For me things like that are the most practical tools that I could see using.
DB: Many people have mentioned that one of the great things about the course is being able to learn from colleagues who work in different countries and getting those perspectives.
Samke: So it’s interesting Dominic – because one of the things I really love when we work in groups is the diversity in the room. As different as we are, the course enables us to have a sense of belonging, but it also allows us to learn from one another. So, when we plan for the week ahead, we receive information about what we’ll be studying. Every topic has a different case study, maybe Nigeria, Liberia – different countries. And that on its own is a learning process, because you get to find different issues, but you find they’re being mitigated in different ways in different countries.
People are tasked to do research around that and give feedback. And one of the things I did when I saw the list of what people will be doing each week was to engage with my colleague who was tasked to do the same thing. And from there I learned that she is doing the same work. And that, for me, is a meaningful network, because it means I won’t only stop here in terms of connecting with her…outside of this course I will also be engaging her.
And it brings in that collaboration. We also discuss the differences in our own work, because we live in different locations. We can engage each other in terms of the challenges that we find in our work, and what are some of the things that seem to be working for them that I can implement on my side – I think it’s about that kind of learning.
DB: So would you recommend the course to others?
Samke: Definitely I would. You don’t even have to ask that. I would recommend it because first: it provides a safe space. Second: there’s a lot of learning that’s involved. And third: when we have different perspectives around issues, that makes it more fruitful and more engaging.
And also, I think one of the reasons I would really recommend it is because there’s so much that we need to understand and know in terms of bringing the gender aspect into land matters. And there is a gap, because of the social norms that exist and because of some of the beliefs that we come from, or we grow up believing in.
So this an opportunity to advance our knowledge but also to enhance and empower us as women. Because if we want to bring change, we need to educate ourselves before we even bring that change.