Both women and men are poor and exploited, so we should work together and think jointly.
- Men’s group member Shaghata area
The Nijeri Kori philosophy is that poor women and men have common interests, and are exploited by the same system. This philosophy generates a gender strategy which emphasises creating ways for women and men to work together in greater equality, in contrast to the sex segregated and unequal society in which they live. Staff collective living arrangements reflect this philosophy. The mainstreaming of gender in recruitment, performance evaluation, and content of group discussion and training, also reflects this integrationist approach.
At the same time, the need for single sex spaces, particularly for women, is recognised as highly necessary, and built into the programme. NK’s core activity is organising landless people’s groups, which are single sex (although male staff may help female staff organise women’s groups, and vice versa). Only at a higher level of elected committees do landless men and women participate in the same group. Similarly, training for group members at a most basic level is single sex, and only later are trainings mixed. On elected bodies for both group members and staff, seats are reserved for women if a minimum number of women are not otherwise elected.
The table below outlines NK achievements in relation to gender, the challenges remaining, and strategies used to tackle these. Sections 3 and 4 explore these in more detail.
Consistency in values and practices between programme and staff, common vision of collective struggle for human rights and equality, including an end to women’s exploitation
Breaking stereotypes of how women and men should relate to each other
Rise in religious fundamentalist activities at grassroots and other levels
Philosophy of women and men’s common interests and common exploitation
Gender mainstreaming throughout procedures and processes
Strategic creation of mixed and single sex spaces
More women’s groups formed than men’s groups
Successful organising by women’s and men’s groups for women’s rights eg. Higher wages
Some community and family gender norms have changed eg. Less domestic violence
Women and men group members have pooled economic resources to raise standard of living
Women and men group members take part in democratic landless group structures
Women and men group members engage with local, national and international politics. Women and men group members are invited to take part in local village councils (shalishes)
Cultural groups educate on women’s exploitation
Men’s groups less likely to take up these issues than women’s groups, especially where NK is not so strong in the area
Men’s groups still on average have more resources than women’s groups
Women less engaged, and fewer women elected to government positions than men
Very few women in cultural groups
Continue to address women’s exploitation in training and group discussions
Women’s groups encouraged to buy land and campaign for higher wages
Reserved seats for women, foster women’s leadership through single sex training
Foster women’s leadership through single sex training
Groups making efforts to recruit more women
Staff cultural teams educate on women’s exploitation
Collective living creates space for women and men to live in equality and an alternative to family life. Women living and working in an NGO without male guardians become agents for change and role models for other women.
Cultural teams men only due to sexual harassment of women when they travel as performers
Twice as many male staff as female staff, some women deterred by collective living in remote areas
More male staff at middle level management
Attitude that mothers rather than fathers are responsible for children
Sensitising men for positive change as well as encouraging women to be more active in cultural activities
Adjusting living conditions to make more acceptable to women, recruitment drives focussed on women
Reserved seats for women, women’s leadership training
Continue discussion of gender roles
3. LANDLESS PEOPLE’S GROUPS
The NK philosophy is that through collective organising the landless can gain strength to assert their rights and escape poverty. This is recognised as a long-term and difficult battle. Exploitation of women is seen as an integral part of the larger framework of exploitation to be resisted. The issue is thoroughly mainstreamed into organising and training of landless groups. Most statistics are gender disaggregated and gender indicators for group performance are included such as number of successful protests organised on violence against women and dowry.