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Networking and knowledge exchange on 'Gender, Care & Livelihoods' in the UK

On Wednesday 8 Feb 2023, GRRIPP hosted the first of our three international seminars this year. The ‘Gender, Care & Livelihoods in Times of Crisis’ seminar involved projects and colleagues from all three GRRIPP regions, as well as UK GRRIPPers. Following on from our February newsletter summary, here is the full low down of the week's activities.

From LAC region, the UK welcomed awardees Cha de Terra and Quilombo do Catucá (Brazil), SUR Corporación and Ciudadanas Ciudando (Chile), and FENAMUTRA (Dominican Republic). From Africa, GRRIPP UK welcomed Echoes of Humanity (Zimbabwe), and from South Asia, SEWA Bharat (India). GRRIPP UK was also delighted to welcome GRRIPP South Asia’s Regional Lead, Professor Mahbuba Nasreen, GRRIPP Africa’s Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator, Dr Kylah Forbes-Biggs, and LAC Regional Advisory Board Member Maite Rodríguez Blandon.

This big group of GRRIPPers were involved in a range of exciting networking and knowledge exchange events across the week. Here is an expanded overview and more photos of all that the projects got up to:

DAY 1 - Monday 6th Feb 2023

Global GRRIPPers arrive to London, smiling through jetlag...

Three people in a selfie photo at an airport
Maria Silvanete Lermen (Chã da Terra) and Deybison Silva De Albuquerqe (Quilombo do Catucá) are greeted at the airport by Debora Abrosini. Credit: GRRIPP UK

DAY 2 - Tuesday 7th Feb 2023

  • Activity #1 (LONDON): GRRIPP Awardees invited to LSE

Two GRRIPP awardees were invited to the London School of Economics (LSE) by Professor Shalini Grover and Matt Reynolds to discuss GRRIPP, and what we mean by gender, care and livelihoods during crises. Paromita Sen and Punarbhava Banik discussed their work with SEWA Bharat on the importance of livelihood diversification for girls and women in rural communities. Charity Chenga from Echoes of Humanity discussed her work on introducing electric trikes to rural communities to increase women’s independence and productivity within their work. The conversation generated a great discussion, with “independence” and the underestimated value of “unpaid work” becoming key topics.

five people stood smiling outside of the london school of economics
GRRIPPers arrive at the London School of Economics. Credit: GRRIPP UK

Charity explained that the possibility of enhanced mobility has “planted a seed of independence” in the women of the rural Masvingo Province, which has been a great takeaway from the project. From previous experience, Charity highlighted that the increased production of selling fruit and vegetables from local markets has actually allowed for women to pay for their children to go to university. Productivity levels will only increase with the addition of electric trikes as not only will travel times be quicker, but the locations in which women sell will diversify. With the ongoing community engagement work Charity has been conducting, a real shift in attitude has been noticed, with more women and girls thinking “if she can do it, then I can do it”.

LEFT: Charity Chenga speaking at the workshop. Credit: GRRIPP UK. RIGHT: Participants engaging in the workshop. SEWA Bhata's Paromita Sen and Punarbhava Banik. Credit: GRRIPP UK.

In response to this, Paromita and Punarbhava also shared their observations on the

increased “independence” felt by women and girls as a result of diversifying their livelihoods. Across many rural communities in India, women are often rendered immobile due to gendered divisions of labour and generational gendered norms, which frequently find women trapped in the domestic sphere of the home. Paromita explained that these experiences of isolation only become exacerbated in the event of a disaster or crisis. As a result of this, Paromita and Punarbhava asked the question, “how can these women make money without leaving?”. After a short discussion, Punarbhava explained that through diversifying their livelihoods with the help of the project, many women have been trained on how to sell items online via apps, items that they had previously been making unpaid. The project also hired and trained young women on data collection methods and interview techniques so that they could assist with the objectives of the project.

In these discussions, awardees were also joined by GRRIPP South Asia’s Regional Lead, Professor Mahbuba Nasreen, GRRIPP Africa’s Regional Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator, Dr. Kylah Forbes-Biggs, and GRRIPP UK’s Global Coordinator, Olivia Walmsley.

Group photo! Credit: GRRIPP UK.
  • Activity #2 (LONDON): IRDR Meeting & Networking

Elsewhere in London in the afternoon, Cintia Rizzo and Olga Segovia Marin from SUR Corporación and LAC RAB Member Maite Rodriguez Blandon met with Professor Joanna Faure-Walker of the Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction, alongside Professor Maureen Fordham, GRRIPP’s Principal Investigator.

  • Activity #3 (LONDON): GADRI Consultation Seminar

In the evening, all GRRIPP awardees participated in the GADRI Consultation Seminar, hosted by GRRIPP UK’s Zahra Khan and Professor Peter Sammonds, at the Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction, UCL. This seminar focused on contemporary gender issues in different regions around the world and offered GRRIPP awardees the opportunity to directly say what they think should be on the GADRI agenda from their own perspectives and country/regional contexts. Recommendations from the seminar included emphasis on training and education for women, provided by women; the impartial and thorough collection of intersectional data; and managing political sensitivities whilst influencing policy change. Delegates’ contributions will help form a report that GRRIPP UK’s Professor Peter Sammonds will present at the global GADRI summit in March.

Participants engaging in the GADRI consultation. Credit: GRRIPP UK.

  • Activity #4 (MANCHESTER): GRRIPP awardees invited to University of Manchester Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute

Two GRRIPP awardees were invited to HCRI at the University of Manchester for networking throughout the day, and to deliver a public seminar in the evening. Maria Silvanete Lermen (Chã da Terra) and Deybison Silva De Albuquerqe (Quilombo do Catucá) are leaders of the two Afro-descendant grassroots associations, based in the Brazilian State of Pernambuco.

Maria and Deybison discussed the community-led response to the floods that affected Pernambuco in May 2022, which were the deadliest in 40 years in Brazil, as well as the everyday consequences of climate change in their territories.

The awardees were joined and supported in translation by Dr Louisa Acciari, GRRIPP UK’s Global Network Coordinator.

Maria Silvanete Lermen, Deybison Silva De Albuquerqe and Dr Louisa Acciari. Credit: GRRIPP UK

DAY 3 - Wednesday 8th Feb 2023

  • Activity #5 (LONDON): Internal workshop

All GRRIPP awardees undertook networking activities with various UK stakeholders in the morning. Ruth Díaz from FENAMUTRA was invited to share a guest lecture with Dr. Louisa Acciari on “Gender, work and livelihoods”, for the module “Multidisciplinary Approaches to Gender Studies” at UCL.

Then, in preparation for public seminar later that evening, all global awardees and guests participated in an internal GRRIPP dialogue between projects. The informal session on Care and Livelihoods in Times of Crisis was led by Dr Jessica Field, GRRIPP UK Communications and Dissemination Lead, and involved discussions on the definitions of ‘care’ and ‘livelihoods’, challenges to these practices during Covid-19, and positive examples of change.

This event was attended by Sylvia Marillier, Research Portfolio Manager, International Development, at the Economic and Social Research Council, UKRI (our funder).

Projects discussing concepts at the internal workshop. Credit: GRRIPP UK.

  • Activity #6 (LONDON): Public Seminar: ‘Gender, Care & Livelihoods in Times of Crisis’

The highlight of the week’s activities was the GRRIPP public seminar on Gender, Care & Livelihoods in Times of Crisis. Chaired by Dr Louisa Acciari, the panel featured:

  • Gloria Sepúlveda from Ciudades y territorios que cuidan, Chile

  • Olga Segovia from Ciudades y territorios que cuidan, Chile

  • Maria Silvanete Benedito de Sousa Lermen from Cosmonucleação, Brazil

  • Ruth Diaz from FENAMUTRA, Dominican Republic

  • Charity Chenga from Echoes of Humanity, Zimbabwe

  • Paromita Sen from Sewa Bharat, India

Panellists, audience members and a very special guest (Chilean Ambassador to the UK, Susana Herrera Quezada, centre photo). Credit: GRRIPP UK.

Throughout the panel discussions, the panellists shared their perspectives on care and livelihoods, the work of their projects, and how their communities managed (or didn't) through Covid-19. Key messages included:

  • Care is the first act of productivity in any society. We need to value this kind of work – not least because we will all be caregivers and we will all be looked after at some point in our lives.

  • We must start from the principle that it is necessary to value indigenous knowledge and territorial practices around care.

  • The ultimate challenge is in visibilising care work and understanding that it’s integral to how we as a society interact with each other.

As well as 65 in-person attendees and 80 online, we were also delighted to welcome the Chilean Ambassador to the UK, Susana Herrera Quezada, and UKRI's Sylvia Marillier, who listened intently to discussions.

The event was livestreamed, recorded and had simultaneous live translation in English, Portuguese and Spanish – so a huge thank you and well done to everyone involved on the audio-visual side of the event, too.

Day 4 - Thursday 9th Feb 2023

  • Activity #7 (LONDON): Internal Monitoring & Evaluation Workshop

On the 9th February, GRRIPP UK's Dr Virginie Le Masson (Global Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator) and Dr Hanna Ruszczyk (Infrastructure Thematic Lead) led a Monitoring and Evaluation Workshop with all of our awardees.

The session began with a quick ice breaker where each awardee and team member where asked to describe GRRIPP in one word, and here are the results!

Then, each project had to present whether their project objective(s) had been met and why they were/were not able to meet those objectives. Overall, 2 out of the 7 projects agreed that they had partially achieved their objectives, and 5 out of 7 felt that they had effectively achieved them.

First up was SEWA Bharat who explained that they partially achieved their objectives of reimagining what livelihoods mean for women post-crisis (in India) due to their underestimation of the value of their conceptual framework. Their goals may have been ambitious, but the project still managed to achieve great impacts including bringing employment to 40 young girls which has enabled them to continue their education and diversify their livelihoods. SEWA has also established greater social security networks, and increased enrolments to the Indian governments unemployment wage system.

Next up was Echoes of Humanity (EoH) who also believed that they partially achieved their objective of providing solar powered transportation to enhance women’s capabilities to develop their livelihoods. Using the funding provided by GRRIPP, EoH has been able to install a solar power station within the rural Masvingo Province (Zimbabwe) and has helped women in the community pass their provisional driving license tests. However, due to the impact that COVID-19 has had on global trade routes, the electric trikes remain undelivered. Whilst they unable to achieve their main objective without the trikes, EoH shared that the extra time provided a result of the delays has generated a strong bond amongst the project participants, and has allowed the women more time to pass their provisional tests.

Gloria Sepulveda speaking at the M&E workshop. Credit: GRRIPP UK.

Ciudadanas Ciudando explained that they have 'achieved' their objective of strengthening care networks in Chile. The project has been able to bring visibility to the needs of care givers, particularly in isolated areas where communities often lacked the appropriate infrastructure to support carers. They achieved this through: coordinating and delivering workshops for care givers; establishing links between local governments and communities; and creating a programme for care givers which is led by care givers in vulnerable neighbourhoods in Chile, all of which has brought visibility to the cause.

SUR project (Chile, Argentina and Colombia) followed, and also expressed their achievement in meeting their objective of designing care policies and strategies with a gender and territorial approach. In Bogota, Colombia, SUR worked with the mayor in local and vulnerable communities to strengthen their approach to acting and meeting care givers demands. The project has helped to establish a dialogue between local AND national governments. And in Argentina, care givers were finally put on the agenda which has put a spotlight on care on a national scale. The project has also collaborated with universities to establish a curriculum on care work and care givers.

Brazilian project Quilombo do Catucá expressed their excitement in managing to achieve project objectives and exceeding expectations. A festival was held to celebrate and acknowledge the faith, gender, culture and territories of Afro-descendent and indigenous people. While this festival had to take place in a hybrid space due to COVID-19, more communities were able to connect; communities such as indigenous groups, spiritual leaders, gender experts and LGBTQ communities. The project allowed for sacred space to be reclaimed, as well as allowing the preservation of material space and heritage.

Ruth Diaz sharing FENAMUTRA's publication. Credit: GRRIPP UK.

From the Dominican Republic, FENAMUTRA also achieved their objective to promote participatory governance in solid waste management. With the GRRIPP funding, they have been able to deliver educational workshops and establish community groups across local municipalities on topics such as care giving, eco-feminism, intersectionality and entrepreneurship. The project has also developed a social and political document on the protection of mother earth, which has helped greatly in drawing focus to eco-feminism. They also developed a centre for ALL care givers, i.e. for those who give care in any capacity, which has gained political visibility in the Dominican Republic.

Maria Silvanete Benedito de Sousa Lermen stood with Louisa Acciari. Credit: GRRIPP UK.

Last but not least, Cha Da Terra from Brazil explained that they superseded all initial objectives in promoting the exchange of traditional food and medicine knowledges in the hope to address gender inequalities. After navigating heavy rainfall which delayed many of their planned constructions, the project was not only able to grow traditional plants and herbs, but they also built a space for indigenous midwives and a kitchen to teach indigenous recipes and cooking practices. The project also reached academic spaces, and reiterated the importance of saving indigenous plants and territories that are becoming endangered. “Without plants we cannot exist, and we must coexist with nature”.

Group photo of the M&E event! Credit: GRRIPP UK

For more information on these projects including their objectives and outputs, please visit our new project factsheets on the GRRIPP website!

  • Activity #8 (LONDON): Meetings on workers’ rights and struggles

After the M&E meeting, the LAC awardees met with the Latin American Women Rights’ Services (LAWRS) to learn more about the experiences and challenges of migrant women in the UK.

GRRIPPers engage with UVW and Voices of Domestic Workers. Credit: GRRIPP UK

Then, United Voices of the World (UVW) and Voices of Domestic Workers hosted Ruth Díaz (FENAMUTRA – Dominican Republic), Paromita Sen (SEWA Bharat – India), Prof. Mahbuba Nasreen (GRRIPPSouth Asia), Maria Silvanete Lermen (Chã da Terra - Brazil), Deybison Silva De Albuquerqe (Quilombo do Catucá - Brazil), and Dr. Louisa Acciari (UCL). UVW's London group invited GRRIPPers in to discuss the conditions domestic workers face in different countries and about these workers’ fights.

Day 5 - Friday 10th Feb 2023

  • Activity #9 (LONDON): Spontaneous solidarity!

Some of our international guests joined us on the University College Union picket line on the 9th & 10th February to support our demands for fair pay, pensions and job security.

Photos from the picket lines. Credit: GRRIPP UK.

  • Activity #10 (LONDON): Tour of the capital

After a busy week of seminars, talks and networking, the delegates had the chance to explore London. Guided by the GRRIPP UK team, the global group walked from their hotel in Russel Square, through Covent Garden and Trafalgar Square to Embankment. From there, they embarked on a boat ride to Greenwich, taking in the riverside views from the boat and watched the sunset from Greenwich Park. The evening finished with dinner on a riverside restaurant which everyone left feeling full, relaxed, and emotional (a lot of goodbyes from the GRRIPP UK team).

What a way to end the week!

Last day group photo! Credit: GRRIPP UK.

Events of this week were funded and supported by the GNCA-Newton Fund (EPSRC); and GRRIPP's Networking Plus Partnering for Resilience, a UKRI Collective Fund award.


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