Zambia: RAIN project aims to tackle gender inequality issues

Lillian Shachinda, one of the RAIN project beneficiaries in Shababwa village with some of the grains she's been able to preserve after receiving a solar preserver from Concern.
Lillian Shachinda, one of the RAIN project beneficiaries in Shababwa village with some of the grains she's been able to preserve after receiving a solar preserver from Concern.

Gender equality is a big issue in Zambia, particularly in rural areas where families follow very traditional set roles - the man goes out to work while the woman looks after the home.

As well as looking at the issues of malnutrition in children, Concern’s RAIN project is helping to challenge those traditional roles with a view to addressing nutritional issues.

Brighton, pictured with his youngest child Rodo, says the family has benefitted from being able to grow a wide variety of crops, thanks to Concern's RAIN project.

Brighton, pictured with his youngest child Rodo, says the family has benefitted from being able to grow a wide variety of crops, thanks to Concern's RAIN project.

The hope is that by encouraging women to have a say in what is grown in the family’s homestead garden, the family will be able to reap the rewards of a more varied diet thanks to growing a wide variety of crops in addition to the staple crops of maize and cotton.

Danielle Harvey, Concern Country Director for Zambia, explains that empowering women to have more say in household decisions is for the benefit of the whole family.

“We want people to see that be giving women more control on household decisions, it can have a positive effect for the family,” Danielle said.

She added: “We are trying to get men to have more responsibility for child care; to give their wives more say on what crops they grow.

“We are trying to get men to buy into the idea, to give over some of their land to grow crops for their household, and we are slowly getting there.”

Working with Zambia’s health and agriculture departments, Concern’s team are extremely passionate about the RAIN project and raising awareness of nutrition and gender equality.

They are raising the debate over the airwaves with a weekly segment featuring information on the RAIN project on local radio station Blue Sky Radio.

One of the regular contributers on the hour-long programme is Emmanuel Mudenda, Agriculture Technical Officer attached to the RAIN project.

Both enthusiastic and optimistic about the positive impact of the RAIN project, he commented: “If there is love there, then people will make it work.”

Women’s groups have also been set up in the local villages in the Mumbwa district - 233 so far - to impart advice on nutrition and agriculture, as well as discussing gender equality and empowering women to take on more household responsibilities.

Through drama and discussion they are opening up the debate about equality for women - and letting their spouses see it can be a positive change.