Celine Tschirhart

Royal Holloway University of London
Egham, United Kingdom

Women’s voices in Kwamalasamutu

Field Report n°15

March 4, 2014

Ahead of International Women’s Day on 8 March, Céline Tschirhart reports on how young women from the community of Kwamalasamutu are finding their voices.

From the 10th to the 17th February 2014, a COBRA team supported by the NGO Attune Development went back to the community of Kwamalasamutu in Suriname in order to evaluate the effectiveness of best-practice sharing amongst the community. The outcome of this trip was very positive and we were able to already identify some impacts of our training and best practice sharing. Within a challenging context, the local COBRA team had not only managed to capture some excellent footage of their best practice farming technique, but had also managed to lead on the implementation of self-help in their community. They have successfully applied some of the rules of self-help from the North Rupununi (Guyana) in order to fix an on-going problem in their own community: a bridge.

Making their voices heard

But perhaps one of the most significant changes, which we’d like to highlight ahead of International Women’s Day on 8th March, was in the young women of Kwamalasamutu participating in the COBRA project.  The United Nations state that “International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.” Well, reflecting on the progress made in the community since our very first trip five months ago, we could not help but notice a significant change in the four young women working with us. They had become more assertive and confident, which was shown in the way they comfortably voiced their opinions during COBRA activities, even the shyest of them. But most incredible was the way they stood up in front of the community’s leaders (all male) one evening to criticise their lack of support for community work. This small ‘act of courage’ is very rare in the patriarchal context of Kwamalasamutu and was rewarded by even rarer apologies from the leaders. So in the week of International Women’s Day 2014, let us celebrate these signs of women’s empowerment within our project!



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