Helping Women Make their Mark
24 May 2000
Bonn, Germany: Women in Mali wear many hats. They are the household managers, the farm workers in the fields, the potters and the salespersons in the markets or along village streets. Yet despite their many skills, they find it hard to turn a profit because most work alone at home and have not had the chance to learn about marketing. This is where the UN Volunteers, the majority of them national field workers, come in. They not only bring technical and managerial skills to rural women, but also encourage them to form groups of potters, bakers and gardeners to market their wares. Where seed money is needed, UNVs help present the Malian women's ideas to a funding committee so that grassroots initiatives can grow. UNVs continued to strengthen the role of women in institutions and communities in 1999:
In 1999, almost 50 per cent of national UNV field workers were women.
With more than 25 years of experience in nutritional education, Mariam Haidara, 59, knows her field inside out. A qualified educator with diplomas in social work and rural development, the national UNV field worker has a wealth of information gained from previous positions as a trainer and supervisor of district health workers in Mali's Ministry of Health. Given this background, Mariam knows how to pass on skills that remain with the people. "I don't impose anything," she says. "Everywhere I work I adapt and carry out activities based on the needs the people express." Uneducated women in remote Kalaban, for example, wanted training in the local Bambera language. In this way they learn to better manage their daily affairs. At the same time they can teach their children -- sharing knowledge for generations to come.