Gender Equality - Transforming gender relations
Queen Khamis has been an FFS member in Nyangere, Bunda District since 2013. In the beginning, her husband Khamis James was very hesitant to let her join the group, but despite his reluctance, Queen became an active participant and over time Queen’s participation in the FFS has brought huge benefit to their family.
From the start Queen took part in training on different topics, from agriculture and nutrition, to entrepreneurship and gender. She shared this all with Khamis, who was not very encouraging. But Queen persevered, becoming an advocate for FFS within the community. When she received a small quantity of improved maize seeds as part of the FFS program, Queen persuaded her husband to plant them with her:
“We planted them as per the instructions from CPAR and the harvest from that field was 600kg, a much greater amount than we usually grew. This was the starting point for my husband to love the group. Now if I am sick, or busy with something else, my husband attends group meetings on my behalf.’’
During one of these times Khamis went to the FFS group’s maize field to do some weeding. He heard the group discussing gender issues, and the importance of involving both men and women in decision making regarding resources, income and other family matters. When he returned home he told Queen that he had learned a lot from the group discussion, and has since become a mobilizer for such meetings, inviting non-group members to take part.
Changing the way their family thinks about gender roles has had a big impact on Queen, Khamis and their children. Queen and Khamis now make decisions together on how to manage their money. Recently Khamis needed to purchase a sewing machine for his tailoring business; Queen was able to take out a loan from her FFS group to buy the machine, and to rent a small store front. As a result they are now able to sew and sell ready-made cloth at the market, and have launched a training program for people who want to learn to tailor. With the income earned, Queen and Khamis have been able to repay the loan in full, build a modern house, and are saving for their children’s education.
Queen now manages the accounts for all of the family business. “My husband trusts and listens to my advice. He even calls me his ‘Bank Queen’.’’