The Women’s Economic Empowerment Project is an initiative taking place in Chitera in the Chiradzulu District. With financial support from the African Women’s Development Fund, GENET has adopted Village Savings & Loans Association approaches with the aims of increasing women’s participation in economic activities and reducing poverty in Chitera. GENET works with a women’s association to coordinate the distribution of grants in the form of capital and equipment and trainings that cover business, management and feminist leadership. Numerous stories among the 100 women who attended the week-long trainings attest that the project was able to harness their personal talents and increase efficiency in their business ventures, allowing them to develop or improve an economic activity that greatly contributes to their livelihoods. Besides their own financial circumstances, many of the women have also formed groups that contribute to and encourage savings at the village level.
Over the course of 2014, GENET embarked on a project aimed at transferring vocational and entrepreneurship skills to rural women groups to be able to engage in sustainable and viable economic activities and simultaneously help support keeping girls in school. The Economic Empowerment of Women program funded by the UNFPA (GEWE) program was implemented in 5 districts, namely: Dedza, Chiradzulo, Mangochi, Mchinji and Nkhata Bay. Mother groups were mobilized and underwent training for design, tailoring and menstrual hygiene management. Start up packages with capital and materials were also provided. A total of 50 women completed the training and a monitory visit a few months later revealed that 446 pads in total had been sold and that 157 girls had benefited from the washable sanitary pads. Aside from the quantitative benefits, the project also yielded valuable lessons for GENET when it came to implementation of the project and consideration of external factors.