Social development and gender:


Masculinities in Southern Africa...

This summer the British Council in Durban funded a colloquium and workshop on 'Masculinities in Southern Africa', which was organized by the University of Natal, Durban. Participants included local academics, as well as groups from the UK, USA, Australia and Norway. The colloquium covered the historical construction of masculine identities among such groups as African youth, the Afrikaans-speaking community and the gay community. Men's racial relationships were also explored, with particular regard to mine workers, and African lifesavers and white surfers.

The colloquium was followed by a weekend workshop: 'Masculinity and schooling'. The workshop was targeted to meet the needs of those involved with the formulation of education policy on gender issues, and those struggling with gender issues in the classroom. A number of internationally renowned academics attended, as well as representatives from South African groups such as End Racism and Sexism through Education (ERASE) and the Project for the Study of Violence.

...and writing skills

The British Council in Durban is also hosting a three-day workshop in collaboration with a women's organization, Agenda. Agenda's work involves giving women the necessary forum and skills to articulate their needs and interests for transforming unequal gender relations in South Africa.

The workshop will be led by British consultant Dr Catriona Burness, and will focus on various kinds of non-fiction writing to develop writing skills which participants can use both for themselves and within their organizations. The workshop targets senior students and academic staff at Kwa-Zulu Natal University, women in community-based organizations, and women in development, health and welfare organizations. It aims to discuss the position of women in South Africa and directly address the need for appropriate and gender sensitive training to develop writing skills.

From Nairobi to East Jerusalem...

In late summer the gender team in UK Partnerships ran two regional gender training courses for British Council staff. The first, in Nairobi, drew participants from East and Central Africa. Staff from East and West Jerusalem, Hebron, Tunisia and Jordan came to the second course in East Jerusalem.

The three-day module is designed to enable participants to define and explain key gender concepts and to apply these to all types of British Council work. Participants brought wide levels of experience of the range of overseas, including small-and larger-scale projects, training award management, libraries and information services, higher education links and arts activity.

The gender team greatly valued the opportunity to develop more detailed insights into the working contexts of British Council staff in twelve countries. For further details of the course, please contact Rosemary Arnott or Vicky Lea in UK Partnerships, British Council, Manchester.

Do-it-Herself in Fiji

This summer saw the British Council and Intermediate Technology Group's Do-it-Herself poster exhibition on display in the South Pacific. The exhibition accompanied a regional launch of the Do-it-Herself project at a 'Women in science and technology' event organized by the Ecowoman Network.

Do-it-Herself harnesses the indigenous knowledge of grassroots women to identify research projects which use appropriate technology. Participants identify researchers, raise funds for research, and collaborate on research findings which form the basis of new technological methods.

Gender work in Turkey

The British Council in Ankara has introduced an eight-week gender and development training course. The purpose of this course is to gain an understanding of gender studies and other aspects of contemporary culture such as race, politics, national identity and class.

Eighteen students attended the training this year, and those who completed an optional project to a high standard were eligible for British Council support in undertaking gender research at a UK university.

British Council Ankara is also working with the General Directorate for Women's Status and Problems in Turkey on a research project sponsored by the World Bank. The project involves looking at methods to ensure women gain equal access to both existing and new opportunities in social and economic shares. The research looks in particular at ways to increase women's access to jobs with better career prospects, especially traditionally male-dominated occupations.

Gender and development in Brazil

This summer Andrea Murray, Consultant, Social Development and Gender at the British council visited Brazil to work on a gender and development strategy for the British Council there.

Andrea visited women's organizations and NGOs in Rio, Recife, Sao Paulo, and Brasilia. The consultancy covered a variety of topics: domestic violence, political lobbying, gender training, trade and globalization, homeworking and national machineries. Her visits brought her into contact with a range of bodies in local, state and federal government, NGOs, academia and trades unions. One of the issues the consultancy identified was that many groups are not as well networked internationally as they could be largely because of language restrictions. This is an area where the British Council can offer support by bringing Brazilian groups in contact with British organizations with an international perspective.

Gender training for the Economic Commission for Africa

British Council Ethiopia has recently won a contract to manage gender training courses for regional advisers and senior staff at the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) in Addis Ababa. The British Council will work closely on the project with the Africa Centre for Women, located within the Cabinet Office of the ECA. The centre is currently working on a key strategic area, aiming to mainstream gender into all ECA programmes. Training will be provided by a male/female African training team and will be customized to the specific operational responsibilities of the ECA divisions and the five sub-regional development centres.

Model Parliaments for Palestine

The DFID-funded Palestinian Gender and Law project aims to build capacity in existing grassroots movements for gender equality in law. The British Council, Birzeit University and the Women's Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling, have worked with the DFID in Palestine to bring about gender equitable legislation and policy.

The Model Parliaments project begins this autumn. Eighty-eight pseudo-parliamentarians will debate legal amendments proposed by the women's community, in the first of five model Parliaments in the Palestinian territories. It is hoped that the exercise will draw women's issues into public debate in a highly visible forum, and attract the public, media, and decision-makers to support these new legal amendments.

The focus of the Model Parliaments is on outreach to both the community and the Palestinian Legislative Council. Over four thousand Palestinian across the West Bank are being targeted for legel literacy education in preparation for the Parliaments. Teams of lobbyists across the West Bank and Gaza will make hundreds of visits to key government officials to lobby for gender equitable legislation. A certain number of seats will be reserved for actual Legislative Council members and other members of government to ensure their participation and to develop their links with lobbyists.

The Model Parliaments project has already received considerable popular support, with a call for expanding the project to the Arab world, using the Palestinian Model as the pilot project.

British-Dutch partnership to deliver gender training in Africa

The British Council and Institute of Social Studies (ISS) in the Hague are to train 200 EC officials from ten African countries in gender awareness.

The partnership has won a contract worth £530,000 which will help to strengthen gender awareness amongst EC staff and develop regional consultancy and training capacity. British Council and ISS consultants will run trainer-training courses in Lusaka, Dakar and Maputo for teams of European and African co-trainers. Subsequently theses trainers will carry out workshops in ten countries for 200 EC staff.

The training runs from January 1997 to June 1988, and will be in English, French or Portuguese depending on local language needs. Course content will be customised according to the local context, but will be based around the following: the concept of gender in development; gender policy; personal attitudes to gender and projects; and gender consultancy skills.

Officials will use the techniques learnt to ensure that gender analysis is included in all future EU development initiatives in Africa. The project follows the Council of Europe's Gender Resolution, passed in December 1995, which calls on Member States to integrate gender issues into development co-operation.

For more information please contact:

  • David Griffiths
    Development and Training Services
    Telephone: +44 (0)161 957 7360
  • Jane Moyo
    The British Council Press Officer
    Telephone: +44 (0)171 389 4878

Notes for editors

  1. The British Council operates in over 100 countries promoting British excellence in all aspects of human achievement. It works with women and men globally to promote the status of women and their participation in the political, social, economic, cultural and legal systems of their countries.
  2. The Institute of Social Studies in the Hague advises on social and economic policy throughout the world. It has extensive experience in the field of women's empowerment in development.
  3. The gender training programme will target EU officials from Ethiopia, Tanzania, Mozambique, Zambia, Ghana, Madagascar, Mali, Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire and Guinea Conakry.






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