The objective of this program is the training of trainers (TOT) in rural Ecuador, emphasizing economic, cultural and social empowerment of women.
There are more than one hundred women's non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and closely aligned social agencies working to alleviate Ecuador's social and environmental problems. By-and-large, these groups understand the need for leadership development, greater cooperation and effective communication. However, many of these NGOs have limited or no access to telephone or Internet. Their leaders have received little or no training in administration, organizational development or group decision-making. Due to economic, geographic and time constraints, there is little communication or cooperation among women's NGOs in Ecuador. International, multi-cultural exchange is generally limited to contact with tourists.
Since 1997 there has been an increasing interest in the Imbabura region in women's participation in all aspects of cultural, social, and community life. Two organizations, Centro de Educación y Acción de las Mujeres Otavaleñas (CEAMO) and Federación Indigena y Campesina de la Inrujta (FICI) have been working to alleviate problems of domestic violence, limited educational opportunities, and civil unrest. CEAMO has been providing appropriate leadership training and technical assistance to women with a strong family orientation. CEAMO has conflict resolution and leadership training alliances with local police and health departments and 32 community and women's organizations, representing several thousand rural, urban, indigenous and mestizo women. FICI represents over 160 primarily native Kichwa communities. Its mission is to organize communal projects promoting economic sustainability (craft, agriculture, fishing, tourism), adequate housing, education and health care. La Caravana (www.lacaravana.org) is an international, mobile ecovillage outreach project associated with The Global Village Institute for Appropriate Technology (GVI) and the Ecovillage Network of the Americas (ENA). Since its inception in 1996 in Mexico, it has traveled through 11 countries bringing leadership training and grassroots ecological awareness to tens of thousands of Latin Americans. It has organized and taught conflict resolution, consensus decision-making, and many other skills to persons of every social and economic class in cities, towns, villages and remote communities. It often uses artistic workshops and theatre as an immersion tool. An almost self-sufficient infrastructure includes 3 buses with solar power, a pickup truck and a large circus-style tent for 500 people. The approximately 20 members of la Caravana come from many nations, including the U.S., Canada, Spain, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Argentina, Italy, Switzerland and Great Britain. Funded in large part by its work for NGOs, government organizations and ministries, la Caravana has also received grants from foundations, major donors and grassroots supporters in the U.S. and Canada. La Caravana is the lead agency for implementation of this program.The Global Village Institute for Appropriate Technology (www.i4at.org) is an educational organization formed in 1974. The Institute has trained more than 6,000 individuals from more than 60 countries in projects of this type. The Institute has worked with la Caravana since 1996.
Forty women leaders selected by CEAMO's and FICI's members will participate in workshops in Administrative Skills, Consensus Decision-Making/Meeting Facilitation, and Video Documentation. Participants will represent a cross-section of Ecuador's racial, cultural and geographic diversity. They will have in common a motivation and capacity to share the acquired knowledge and skills and a demonstrated commitment to further the goals of the partner organizations. Preference will been given to those from diverse social, geographic, economic and ethnic backgrounds and the physically challenged. The actual selection will be performed in joint meetings of the partners. The 140 participants in the Peace Village will be selected from among the NGOs and women's groups contacted by the Imbaburan women. These women will be nominated by organizations most familiar with their work and selected by the Peace Village organizational team.
Criteria for the Selection of International and Local Trainers:
Trainers will be selected based upon relevant knowledge and teaching skills, and their capacity to relate to a diverse participant group, adapt to differences and impart knowledge in a clear and practical manner. Preference will be given to women, Spanish speakers and those from diverse social, geographic, economic and ethnic backgrounds.
The workshops will focus on three specific areas that have been identified by the U.S. and Ecuadoran partners as having the highest priority:
Administrative skills training: organization and administration, event planning, coalition building, effective communication and networking.
Conflict resolution, mediation, consensus decision-making and meeting facilitation: effective meetings, techniques for mediating conflicts and building community.
Video documentation: a hands-on workshop in digital camera use, site and shot selection, camera techniques, team work, use of microphones, interviewing, editing. This workshop will train 20 women to do the documentary recording for the video on the Peace Village and assist in its editing. Video documentation workshops are proven tools for improving women's self-awareness and esteem, creativity, and communication capacity.
Training and resource materials in Spanish will be provided.
A culminating event in which 140 women will be invited to represent their women's organizations, forming a week-long Women's Peace Village, will provide the opportunity for the women trained in Imbabura to share their newly gained knowledge and skills and to make important contacts on a national level with other NGOs and groups. The Peace Village will be run by councils made up of women from different parts of the country. Councils may include: Arts and Culture, Education, Ecology, Health, Young Peoples, Indigenous, Elders, etc.. Decisions for the day-to-day affairs of the Village will be decided by the entire village through facilitated consensus. A morning workshop on consensus decision-making, meeting facilitation and local organizing will be complemented by afternoon small group council meetings in which women will practice their meeting facilitation skills. Cultural exchange will be an important part of the Village experience. Work will be shared by all participants. Children of participating women will be included in multi-cultural workshops (music, dance, theatre, crafts, stilts, and juggling).
La Caravana has helped organize many such events, including the First Bioregional Congress of the Americas ( November 1996, Mexico), Circle for Peace (September 1998, Colombia), Bioregional Gathering of Venezuela (December 1998), and the Bioregional Gathering of the Valle de Aburra (Dec.1999, Colombia). It is difficult to over-emphasize the impact of these events and the opportunities provided to alter the lives of the participants.
Evaluation and Follow-up
All workshops include orientation and evaluation phases for participants, instructors and partner organizations (jointly and respectively). Written surveys will be collected at the conclusion of each workshop and evaluated by staff. GVI and la Caravana will maintain contact with CEAMO and FICI to continue to provide information and support after this program has been brought to a close.
Evaluative criteria include:
During the year 2001 in the province of Imbabura, the program should improve the lives of 40 women leaders and train them in areas identified as critical to their future ability to take positive action in finding solutions to the problems of poverty, domestic violence, disempowerment, low self esteem, and environmental sustainability issues.
FICI and CEAMO will have received training in administrative skills and video documentation.
Educational materials (workbooks and video) will have been produced in the Spanish language.
Workshops in the arts and crafts will have broadened the cultural outlook and aptitudes of approximately 70 children.
At least six intercultural exchange events will have combined elements of skill enrichment, experiential learning and exposure to American life and culture, while providing Americans the opportunity to learn about and experience the culture of Ecuador.
A week-long women's Peace Village, composed of 140 women from all parts of Ecuador organized by the Imbaburan leaders will have taken place. A day-long orientation will have brought the participants awareness of diversity issues and their specific application to community life. Women leaders will have shared their experiences with each other, and received training in consensus decision-making, meeting facilitation and local organizing from international experts. Intercultural events will have included music, dance, and audiovisuals.
A video documentary of the Peace Village will have been produced.
June 2001: Planning work moves forward among partner organizations. Participants for Administrative Skills Training are selected. There is a formal inauguration of the program at Intirraymi indigenous celebration, June 24-25. There is solicitation of international and local expert instructors and development of distribution plans for the video documentary.
July 2001: Three-day Administrative Skills Training workshop will train 20 women leaders in event planning, consensus decision-making, facilitation, coalition building, and networking. Interim and final evaluation criteria will be developed by the participants in consultation with the partner organizations. Planning committees will be identified and staffed. Training will include inter-cultural sharing which may take the form of music, dance, and audiovisuals. Site selection process for the Peace Village event moves forward.
August 2001: Decisions on dates, site, networking strategies are made. Outreach is begun to other women's NGOs by email, website notices, public meetings and facilitation/consensus workshops.
September 2001: The networking and planning process continues for the Peace Village. Registration for that event begins. There is a final selection of 20 participants for the Video Documentation workshop. The partners convene to evaluate the program to date.
October 2001: Registration for Peace Village continues. Three day Video Documentation workshop takes place.
November 2001: The Peace Village, a one-week experience in community living and grass roots decision-making, will give the 140 participants an opportunity to meet other women leaders from all over Ecuador, share experiences, and plan future activities. Participants will receive workshops in consensus decision-making, meeting facilitation and local organizing by international experts, and have opportunities for small group dialogue and practice. Intercultural events may take the form of music, dance, and audiovisuals. The program will include daily process check-ins and a multi-faceted final evaluation. The Peace Village will be documented by a team of women, under the supervision of the video workshop trainer.
December 2001: Production of an hour-long Spanish language video about the Peace Village for dissemination in Ecuador and other Latin countries will begin. Follow-up by partner organizations to support the emerging Ecuadorian women's NGO network . The partners will convene for a second program evaluation.
Jan-May 2002: Evaluation and future planning will continue among partner organizations and other Ecuadorian women's groups.
May 2002: Production of final program reports and accounting.
GVI, la Caravana, and the coordinators of CEAMO and FICI have jointly envisioned the first Women's Peace Village in Ecuador and the preceding four month-long training and planning process as a first step toward uniting the disparate Ecuadorian women's movement. Through experiential training and cultural exchange we hope to greatly amplify the effectiveness of the partner organizations and the other NGOs and women's organizations that have participated in the training programs and the first Women's Peace Village in Ecuador.