Women take their fate in their own hands

Many women learn to read, write and count, obtain access to micro-loans and join together within associations. In Guinea-Bissau, hundreds can create a future for themselves thanks to the new skills that they acquire.

If women receive support from SWISSAID for their activities on the land, this also nurtures a greater sense of self-confidence. This improves their lives and that of their families, as well as their position within the family and within society. The literacy courses in the region of Cacheu have delivered impressive results. The
women no longer have any fear of dealing with bureaucracy and many of them now carry their own identity papers.

In the last presidential elections, they were able to cast their vote “like anyone else”, as one woman pointed out, and sign their ballot paper – to the great astonishment of the electoral commission representatives, who applauded. “I always used to feel ashamed because I had to have my fingerprint taken”, says 60-year old Linda Cansok.

Delighted to have their own income

The women are no longer outsmarted at the market. They set their prices, give change, and count their proceeds. “I can now negotiate the price for my cashew nuts whenever my husband is not there”, says 37-year old Quinta Nhanga happily.

Thanks to micro-loans, the women can carry out activities that enable them to generate an income. Take Fatima Domingos Mendes from the village of Bachil, for example. By growing beans, she earned three times as much as she had borrowed. She used the money she earned to pay for her children to go to school. The
association also benefited from her financial success because the women keep a community shop stocked which they run themselves. 

Women against mismanagement

“Thanks to the support of SWISSAID, we have been able to start these activities and have been successful”, explains Fatima. She adds: “You might need help scratching your back, but you can do your own stomach yourself.” 

The women are strengthening their position by coming together. Leading an organisation also nurtures respect within society. In 2015, the chairwoman of the Caio association ran her organisation well and courageously – she took legal action against her predecessor who had been suspected of embezzling funds.
Previously, she would never have contemplated representing her community in court and speaking in public. As she says, “the literacy and numeracy courses changed everything, even our way of thinking!”

Project code: GB 02/15/09 

Costs: 78'208 Swiss francs

Duration: 2 years

Number of beneficiaries: 560 families