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Project Officer, Gender and Media in Southern Africa. “I was knee deep in the preparations for Gender Awareness Campaign during the 2009 Presidential Election in South Africa in April. Taking the message to rural women and empowering them about their right to vote was critical, given the history of apartheid and also to ensure that women make their voices heard. It was during this time that an email arrived informing me that I had been selected to receive a grant to take the course.

I would like to share my experiences from a South African woman’s perspective. The organization I work for, Gender and Media Southern Africa (GEMSA), focuses on Gender, HIV and AIDS awareness in 12 countries. South Africa is one of the few countries in Sub-Saharan Africa that realizes the need to have women participate in leadership roles. Women in these spaces then raise their voices for the ones who cannot speak and demand change. Now, my number was being called in the form of Gender Awareness 101, to raise my voice and empower myself for change.

As the course went on it became clear that what I experienced in Southern Africa were also issues for some participants. We became a global village with many similarities; government’s insensitivity to gender budgets, aid ineffectiveness, donor dominating agendas, lack of synergized alignment with stakeholders and strategies in implementing on funds, etc.

In the current project I am undertaking themed Making Care work Count: Unpaid Work Campaign, I found myself referring to the tools on gender sensitive budgets. The women involved in the project are unsung heroes in the work they do in their communities, taking care of people affected and living with HIV and AIDS. The women do this without support from the government and yet they amount to 90% of care workers in South Africa. The research I have undertaken for this project was launched in at the SADC (Southern African Development Community)  Heads of State Summit in August 2009, with recommendations to governments to urgently implement gender sensitive budgets. This I learned within the course on how budgets must be targeted for the beneficiaries in need. This has been critical to the success of our project and is also important in bringing about awareness to decision makers.

The triple ‘M’ factor as I have now coined it - planning at Micro, Meso and Macro levels has been another valuable aspect of the course in terms of managing donor funds, particularly given the global economic down turn we find ourselves in. Planning, implementing and strategizing projects have become the order of the day.

This has been a great learning experience and my gratitude goes to my tutors, participating colleagues and the EU for such a pleasurable learning. And I part, but for a moment with the following quote, “Change doesn't just happen. We collectively make it happen.” Anonymous".



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