Over the period September to November the Mozambique Canada Maternal Health Project has been very active delivering training programs to increase skills and knowledge about working with communities, confronting issues of gender and building women’s empowerment.

In September, the project delivered training workshops with teachers from the Massinga and Inhambane Training Centres  about working with communities and understanding the impact of gender in the family and the community. The session outlined key steps in engaging with communities and working alongside Community Health Committees on healthier community activities and more equitable gender relations. This training provided a more extensive background for teachers, as they deliver courses to community health workers.

In early October, the project held a three day workshop on gender issues with resource people from Women and Law in Southern Africa (WLSA), our partner for gender.  This workshop covered important topics about the role of women in communities, how they should be respected, recognized and be in the leadership of the local Committees of Health. Gender issues were discussed in the context of how the mortality rate for women and children is directly affected by gender roles. Participants created socio dramas to show the reality for women in the family, with health institutions, and community organizations such as churches. There was a systematic analysis of what needs to change in gender and community relations   to produce empowerment for women.

At the end of October, the project delivered a three day workshop on Community Development and Community Economic Development. Workshop participants of 38 community representatives dealt with key issues in the formation of local Committees of Health; how the involvement and recognition of women is critical – at least 50 per cent in activities and decision making; identifying the key issues that each community needed to embrace; and the use of micro enterprise and micro finance to increase economic sustenance  and to strengthen the role and participation of women. Specialist resource people were on hand to talk about organizing micro projects (e.g.  chicken production units), and how to do proper accounting and control in community based enterprises.

Five project “community support workers” are now working alongside the organizing and engagement of Committees of Health in community building activities and women’s empowerment. They also received a special training session on critical aspects of their work. They will work with the ten Committees already designated and active, as well an additional ten, which are being brought on stream over the next few months.

The training component has been a very productive time for the Inhambane Canada Maternal Health Project.