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Today we met with the leading women entrepreneurs of the island (Women Entrepreneurs Forum of Rodrigues). We greatly admired them not only for the way they carried out their individual activities but also for their great sense of civic duty towards more vulnerable women. As stated earlier, this solidarity is what really spurred communal development in Rodrigues.

These ladies were most interested in the incredible amount of knowledge that the Malagasy ladies possessed and shared. The latter talked about the different uses of several plants and trees common to both islands.

In Madagascar, nothing is wasted. All parts of a tree or plant can be used, whereas in Rodrigues such resources are underexploited or in some cases not used. For example, in Madagascar, the bark, the heart as well as the leaves of the ravanale tree are used to make houses, fences and handicrafts.

In Rodrigues, only the leaves of the same tree are used to make handicrafts. In fact, it is considered more of a nuisance as it takes up a lot of water, which is already a scarce resource in Rodrigues. It was therefore interesting to learn that the heart of the ravanale tree contains water that can be used for drinking. In Madagascar, it is known as the traveller’s tree. The bark and leaves can be used as rudimentary fencing for small livestock which is both economical and ecological. Such other practicalities for other plants, trees and fruits were also discussed.

Rice cultivation, a major agricultural activity in Madagascar, surprisingly caught the attention of the women of Rodrigues. Even though rice is a staple food, it is not cultivated due to unfavourable climate and scarce land. The Malagasy ladies were grateful to IFAD projects in Madagascar which helped to promote a special technique of rice cultivation. The production doubled and tripled whilst saving greatly on water, seeds and land. In hearing about the Rice Intensification System (SRI), the ladies of Rodrigues seemed to have been enlightened by the prospect that if such a system could work for them as well, it would considerably lighten their rice importing dependency on Mauritius.

Even though we had little time to expand more on the above discussions, they nevertheless permitted us to realise the importance of creating a communication link of a continuous nature that would eventually lead to positive, concrete actions towards mutual development.

HR Team and Creative Problem Solving

Posted by Sandra Di Rienzo Friday, June 26, 2009 0 comments

On May 27th , the whole of HR division took part in a one day Introduction to Creative Problem Solving to learn some tools and techniques for increasing their creative thinking and to help them work more effectively as a team and with their 'client' departments .

Training sessions were facilitated by three 'real life' facilitators Tim Morley, Maggie Dugan and Khalid El Harizi from Policy Division and a 'virtual' facilitator, 'Big Brother' Andy Burnett who thanks to modern technology, interacted with the whole group sitting comfortably in front of a web-cam in Buffalo, New York at some unhearthly hour of the night.

Andy started off by putting creativity into an HR context, linking up to their work on appreciative enquiry and diversity. He also provided an overview of what it takes to build a creative team: the 4P’s model - people, process, product and press (environment).

Participants received the results of an on-line questionnaire using the Foursight tool which revealed their particular individual strengths in the ideation process and, grouping them together, it provided a profile for the whole HR team.

The FourSight Profile is an assessment tool designed
to boost critical and creative problem solving skills in individuals and groups by taking a look at exactly where they excel and then breaking this down into the four distinct phases of the breakthrough thinking process. Are you a Clarifier? An Ideator? A Developer? An Implementer? Some combination? The ability to understand and leverage your thinking style is important for successful team dynamics.

The group was introduced to the Creative Problem Solving process using the basic 4 stage problem solving model - clarify, ideate, develop, implement with a tool for each stage and they immediately put these into action using dozens of coloured post-its, flipcharts and coloured pens.

Interview with Liz Davis by Khalid El Harizi following the CPS training session

What did you like about the Introduction to Creative Problem Solving?

“I think the best thing was that when I walked away I thought that it was a fantastic use of my time and that’s a pretty high hurdle when we are all working as hard as we are and with as much as there is to do”

How useful do you find it to your work?

…our ordinary days sometimes suppress those things we know and we don’t always use them in the best way .. .. it also provided a space and a shared experience which is rare because often we meet in smaller teams, and in mixed teams but we don’t very often have whole team events .. .it wasn’t that the content did not matter, but that the shared experience probably came out as being the most important.”

Which part of the training did you find most interesting?

“ I love[d] the diagnostics tool because [it gives] you another window on the world and a window on yourself more importantly..

I was actually excited by the fact that we did some of the sessions using SKYPE … which again if you had asked me beforehand if I thought it would work, I would have said How can it possibly work! ..

I loved the exercise about building the bridge between inanimate objects (the forced connections), that just reminds me that you have to take risks sometimes because it’s the kind of exercise that if you write it in a learning programme people think that its terribly false or trite or whatever .. In fact, I went on to use it in the IMT meeting. I took the risk there to use the same exercise and actually it worked brilliantly. It was worth the risk.”

Do you see any potential benefits for IFAD from generalising the CPS training, not just an Introduction, to all staff?

“Absolutely … I can imagine how working in the field you could use those techniques without almost any materials, working with local people, farmers, farmers organizations, women’s groups.

I think anything we can do to build our broader understanding of the community of people who are IFAD, the better from a leadership and management point of view.”

Any other comments you would like to share with our social bloggers?

“What would I like to share with the social bloggers? ....The day before, I had mentally sent my apologies. I didn’t actively send them but I mentally sent them because the in-box was absolutely full and there were big and important deliverables from an HR reform perspective coming up against the wire …Social bloggers might like to know that on my wall I have a time line which is pressing me hard.

And then something made me think NO, that would be the easy thing to do, to turn up late, to leave in the middle, and it would have been completely the wrong thing to do. So I am just so pleased that I didn’t, even though 24 hours previously I checked out mentally, I checked back in and then not only checked in. It was great fun. I have not laughed so much in a very long time. I won’t tell the bloggers what we were laughing about because it may not be appropriate but it reminded me that laughter is good for your mental health and your performance as well. It was great.”

Thank you Liz

Today was the big weekly market day at Port Mathurin! People from all over the island come to sell and buy locally made products. We saw the famous dried squids, a variety of handicrafts, fruits, vegetables, pickles, among other products. We were surprised to learn that some of the sellers had set up their stalls since 2:30 am! As we meandered our way through the friendly hustle and bustle of the market, we had the opportunity to discuss with some of the sellers and admire their colourful products.

At around 8:30 am it was our turn to set up our stalls! The Malagasy ladies set up their products on the long tables which consisted of aromatherapy clove oils, handicrafts (baskets, hats, purses, silk shawls), dried chillies, tropical fruit jams, etc.
The stalls were a success as we played typical Malagasy songs and encouraged people to approach us. Here, the Malagasy ladies had the valuable opportunity of mingling with the people of Rodrigues and making many contacts. Half a day passed with lots of colour, laughter and good humour.

The latter part of the day was spent visiting a few more sites. We met with two beneficiaries of the IFAD Rural Diversification Programme (RDP). The first lady, Mrs. Micheline, proudly showed us her 4 sows surrounded by a litter of piglets. Mrs. Micheline bought her female pigs with micro-credit from RDP, and her activity consists of breeding pigs and selling the piglets. This is currently her main source of income. The Malagasy ladies noted many similarities with how they rear pigs, and were able to pick up a few tips on how to improve their own activities. We see again the diversity of activities as Mrs. Micheline is also involved in fishing activities and rearing chickens. Next, we met Mrs. Messie, who rears goats and has been in the business since she was 15! In order to benefit from RDP’s micro-credit scheme, she decided to include 8 other people in the activity who are among the island’s unemployed. Here, the Malagasy ladies learned the importance of charity efforts as an essential pillar of economic development. This serves as a reminder that solidarity, trust and awareness remain among the main elements for successful community cohesion.

After a whole night of thundering and raining, we set out in the morning to see the Commissioner on Woman’s rights. The Commissioner gave us an interesting briefing on the situation of women in Rodrigues.

Each village holds a women’s association which are regrouped under the Women’s Regional Committee. Several members of the Committee have formed a Women’s Enterprise Forum. The Forum benefits from funds coming from different organizations such as IFAD, NEF (National Empowerment Foundation), UNEP, etc in their various micro-entrepreneurial activities. At present, the satisfaction rate of these latter projects is at 75%. The 25% deficit is due mainly too lack of social workers and the fact that certain projects are not well cut-out for the context of Rodrigues.

It has been particularly noted that micro-credits work well for the women of Rodrigues as they are more responsible and work actively to abandon poverty. Village tills set up by UNEP have continued to flourish even after the closure of the project. The major problems now facing these women are trying to find market openings and producing enough to satisfy the market demand. These women are in great need of training, especially in business management. The Malagasy women identified with the latter as they are facing the same problems. What was interesting to note though, was that when we asked the Commissioner about a gender strategy for Rodrigues, she responded by saying they do not need any, as women’s concerns are “naturally” intergrated in all systems of work! Something which is not as natural in Madagascar, and for which there is still a lot of work to be done.

We then proceeded to the site visits. We had the occasion to meet intelligent, independent, persevering women like Mrs. Boncoeur and Mrs. Casimir who have demonstrated the importance of having a vision and acting upon it and discarding the word impossible. Mrs. Boncoeur, with a mere 13 days of training in greenhouse making was able to set-up three large functioning greenhouses, a real record! Mrs. Casimir is a coffee producer and transformer, and she undertakes her whole activity at home. In Madagascar, people have stopped cultivating coffee as prices are too low. Mrs. Aimé, one of the Malagasy ladies realised that if Malagasy women take up coffee cultivation again and learn how to transform like Mrs. Casimir, this will add value to their coffee and hence increase revenues.

We also visited two other micro-enterprises, “Mange-Tout” and “Rose à l’Ouest”. “Mange Tout” which translates into “eat all”, is a bakery run by 5 members of an association. Here we noticed that the bakery does not run on a full-time basis, and members have not received training in keeping simple accounts. Even though they have been allocated a building and been furnished with proper equipments, the latter is not being exploited to its full potential. The same phenomenon was observed for “Rose à l’Ouest”, a micro-enterprise involved in handicrafts. Here, the members use the village Community Centre once a week for a few hours of work. We observed in both cases a lack of professionalism even though the means are in place.

Here the Malagasy women learned about the importance of understanding ones potential. Women are generally more humble in nature and therefore reluctant to be out there independently to try new things. Women like Mrs. Boncoeur and Mrs. Casimir who have dared to try and succeeded as a result, are a model for all.

Action on violence against women

Posted by M.Hartl Monday, June 22, 2009 0 comments

Yakin Ertürk, the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women paid a visit to the Rome based agencies and shared findings from her country visits and investigations. “Violence against women is universal – it respects no borders, class, race or age”, said Ertürk. “Even privileged women like you are at risk if you happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time”. Violence against women comes in many forms: sexual and physical abuse in the home, rape, the spread of HIV-AIDS, traditional practices such as female genital mutilation and the trauma of human trafficking. Participants were interested to hear how men and women experience violence differently. For men, violence is more random or the result of competition for power, including war. For women, violence is systemic and a way to exercise control and maintain them in a subordinate position in society. The clearest example is rape when used as weapon of war: some men commit violence against women to punish other men, especially in armed conflict when

It took a long time for violence against women to be recognized as a human rights violation. Even the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) did not make reference to violence when adopted in 1979. Today, violence against women is on top of the agenda. Last year, the UN Secretary-General launched a global campaign “UNITE to End Violence against Women” and many Governments, NGOs, women’s groups and individuals, women and men have joined in. IFAD’s Assistant President Matthew Wyatt has been designated at the Senior Focal Point for the Campaign.

What can IFAD do? Ertürk and IFAD staff made concrete suggestions. The focus should be on creating more awareness among staff and target groups and putting continued emphasis on empowering rural women.

What can individuals do? Say no and do not tolerate any form of violence against women. To illustrate this, Ertürk showed a little white ribbon decorating her jacket, symbol of a large worldwide effort by men and women to end violence against women through educating men and boys.


Rodrigues… an island situated 560 km east of Mauritius, named after a Portuguese explorer, hosts a population of 38,000. Though mostly dry, we arrived at the rainy season period, and were welcomed by lush and green vegetation all gently rippling with the sea wind. Our first stop as soon as we arrived was at the Chief Commissioner’s office at Port-Mathurin, where the IFAD Rural Diversification Programme is hosted. There we met with the Advisor to the Chief Commissioner, Mr. Moustapha Jeetoo, who warmly welcomed us and gave us a most complete overview of Rodrigues.

Rodrigues, though a dependency of Mauritius, is decentralized and autonomous in 47 sectors like fisheries, social security, etc… since November 2001. The Rodrigues Regional Assembly is led by 7 commissioners, comprising a Commissioner on Women’s Rights. The economy of the island is essentially based on agriculture, where small farmers rear livestock and fish in the lagoons. They also cultivate and harvest a few vegetables like onions, cassava and maize. Fishing is the principal activity involving more than 2000 individuals. Literacy rate is at around 50%, where schooling is compulsory until the age of 15. Health care works relatively well with several medical centres peppered around the island. Rodrigues faces merging problems like higher unemployment rates and over-exploitation of its lagoons. Though crime rates are very low, it might very well be on the rise with increasing unemployment.

Rodrigues has recently adopted a Sustainable Integrated Development Programme (SIDPR) which encourages small farmers to diversify their activities by setting up micro-enterprises. The IFAD RDP project supports the latter programme by providing micro-credits to women farmers by recognizing that women are much more active and contribute more to the economy of the island. The Malagasy women and officers were very interested to learn more about the SIDPR, and how such a programme could be tailored in Madagascar. Mr. Jeetoo kindly offered a copy of the document that the group can take back and study. Such a programme could be tailored to Madagascar and contribute greatly to its development. It is therefore important for the beneficiaries to grasp the latter concept in order that they can take their own development in hand by becoming much more capable in influencing their policies in an informative way.

Yasmina Oodally
IFAD Madagascar Portfolio


Les Femmes Entrepreneurs de l'Océan Indien s'échangent leurs Expériences4ième Jour

Temps ensoleillé, condition climatique encourageante, environnement géographique très enrichissant et accueil chaleureux de la part de l’assemblée Régionale Rodriguaise ; voilà en gros les premières visions de la délégation de femmes rurales entrepreneurs issus de deux Projets FIDA à Madagascar (PROSPERER ET PPRR) pour sa première journée à Rodrigue. Bien que petit (108 Km²), Rodrigue donne plus d’importance aux femmes et elles sont beaucoup plus encouragées - et pour cela actives - pour mener les activités d’entreprenariat. Le concept genre est inclus dans la politique générale du Gouvernement – les veuves par exemple bénéficient d’une allocation sociale du Gouvernement – le plan de développement intégré du Pays, et ainsi le plan de développement triennal de la Région prévoit la promotion et l’encouragement du partenariat privé et des petites et moyennes entreprises dont les femmes en sont les cibles prioritaires.

Martin Zafy
Responsable de la Gouvernance Locale et Organisation Paysanne

Today we saw the pain, difficulties, hope and courage of the most vulnerable women of Mauritius. We witnessed how a small helping hand can go a long way…

The National Empowerment Foundation (NEF), funded by the Government of Mauritius, with an independent management, have set-up a series of programmes to help the most vulnerable people start micro-entrepreneurial activity and become self-sufficient. One of the programmes deals specifically with Unemployed Women and is led by a manager, Mr. Ram Jutliah. We especially mention him here for his incredible dynamism (which was really contagious!) and simple pragmatic ideas which have given many women hope to believe in themselves again.

Thanks to the Programme, women like Mrs. Jewalatoon and Mrs. Ramanjoloo, have found a new strength on which to keep going.

Mrs. Jewalatoon, a pretty lady with piercing grey eyes told us her touching story of how she was abandoned by her husband and how she was left to deal with a sick child, herself being slightly handicapped. The courage of this lady to take up the activity of making and selling snacks is inspirational to all. What started off as a small survival activity turned out to be a blossoming micro-enterprise involving now 12 workers making and packaging snacks which are sold throughout the island. But what impressed us the most is the vision of this lady to further expand her enterprise and to be free of all debts. The Malagasy ladies were greatly touched and learned that despite life’s continuous hardships, a strong will to persevere will always pave the way.

Mrs. Ramanjoloo, a small old lady with a huge heart, created an association called “Magic Fingers” here in Mauritius. It comprises a small group of ladies trained in patchwork making. The peculiarity of this group lies in the training of physically handicapped women to making patchwork. What started of as a leisure activity is now turning out to be income generating! Material for the patchwork is taken from cloth debris of textile factories. The patchwork is of really good quality with a continuous upward demand. The Physically Handicapped Centre of Rose-Hill now hosts its own little shop. The Malagasy ladies started comparing with what is being done for the handicapped in Madagascar where mainly religious institutions are involved in such activities. One of the Malagasy ladies is now seriously thinking of setting-up a network between the two countries on promoting the inclusion of handicapped women in possible income generating activities. If she succeeds, it will have been a great accomplishment.

Keep following our journey as we travel tomorrow to Rodrigues, a small island of 38,000 inhabitants, where more discoveries and experiences await us!
Les Femmes Entrepreneurs de l'Océan Indien s'échangent leurs Expériences – 3ième Jour
« Un coup de main pour vous mettre sur les pieds », telle est le la divise du National Empowerment Foundation (NEF). Les appuis en faveur des femmes sont à l’honneur, notamment à travers un système de profilage et d’orientation vers l’entreprise. L’approche utilisée par l’organisme se distingue surtout par la démarche participative adoptée dans la formulation des besoins, ainsi que la responsabilisation des femmes bénéficiaires tout au long du processus de formation : contribution aux coûts, obligation de résultats, etc.

Nous avons découvert avec intérêt le dynamisme des femmes entrepreneurs engagées au sein de l’association : « Entreprendre au féminin dans l’Océan Indien » - Nous avons été les témoins privilégiés de la signature de contrat entre le NEF et cette association pour la formation et le mentoring/tuteurage » d’autres femmes en phase d’acquérir les compétences et savoir-faire dans l’entreprenariat.

La journée, à travers les visites effectuées, a largement contribué à enrichir les connaissances sur la façon dont les femmes gèrent leurs activités. Trois mots clés sont à retenir pour expliquer le succès des entreprises féminines mauriciennes : ce sont la volonté, l’engagement et la persévérance.
Assistante du Programme FIDA PROSPERER

The day started very early as we had to travel up north of the island to the village of Triolet, where we visited a newly made Women’s Centre. The Centre was inaugurated in March 2009, and has been very active since! Here the Malagasy ladies learned about women’s organisational capacities. The Centre offers a diverse range of activities and opportunities to the women of the village. Women trying to launch themselves into a micro-entrepreneurial activity are given the chance by exhibiting and selling their products at the Centre for one year in allocated spaces called incubators. A yearly rotation takes place whereby different women are selected to occupy these incubators. Other activities offered by the centre include information-technology training and more leisurely activities like yoga, cooking and sewing classes.

Next, we visited an older Women’s Centre (established in 2001) in the town of Floréal, located at the central plateau of the island. This Centre equally offers women different activities, such as embroidery making, glass painting, knitting, gardening, etc. An exhibition was waiting for us when we arrived, where the Malagasy women had the opportunity to interact at length with the women of the Centre. Thoughts, ideas, contact information and jokes were shared by both, and it was hard to separate the two groups when it was time to leave!

The Malagasy women were really fascinated by the great dynamism of the two Centres and the diversity of activities offered. Such centres also exist in Madagascar, but are mainly concentrated in the capital city. The women were also struck by the efficient management of the Centres. In fact the Centres are managed by the Women’s Enterprise Council, which is found under the Ministry of Women’s rights. Here, women’s concerns are placed at the heart of the system, where their needs and requirements are carefully analysed and responded to through tailor made programmes. Women interested in pursuing these activities more professionally are also given guidance until they are able to successfully launch their own enterprises. These women often come back to the Centres to help train others to follow in their foot steps. This sense of responsibility is greatly admired by the Malagasy women, who hope to pass on this bit of knowledge to their community as soon as they get back home to their big island.

Under the Mauritian tropical sun, it was a real pleasure to see the six Malagasy women with notebook and pen in hand, ready and eager to start the day!

Today provided us with a good overview of IFAD and partner operations in Mauritius. A lot has been done to develop women’s micro-entrepreneurial skills, in which transformation of agricultural products is a major activity. The highlight was a visit to a farmer’s school set-up by the IFAD Rural Diversification programme. The school offers small farmers especially women and young people training with professional certificates recognized at the international level. The Malagasy ladies were particularly interested in the agro-processing unit, where products such as bananas, papaya, tomatoes, were being transformed into chips, sugar preserves, juice, etc. Even though such technology may not be presently economically feasible in Madagascar, it helps create a vision of what could be achieved in the near future. The women took an active role is carefully questioning the Mauritian technical experts and exchanging contact information.

Mauritians were also eager to know more about the various products that rural women in Madagascar produce, and were especially curious about the essential oils as large hotels and Spas in Mauritius use a lot of aromatherapy oils. The smart Malagasy women brought a sample of their products which will be tested by the quality control offices here in Mauritius. Let us hope that they are approved and that the women may, for the first time, export their clove based essential oils!
At the end of the day, when we all got together to share our thoughts, we all agreed that Mauritius was not so very different from Madagascar as development projects take similar approaches, but that the women in Mauritius have a more professional entrepreneurial way of thinking. Malagasy women have a great potential to achieve likewise. This is why it is so important to sustain knowledge-sharing and allow potentials to be fully developed.
Yasmina Oodally
IFAD APO Madagascar Portfolio
Les Femmes Entrepreneurs de l'Océan Indien s'échangent leurs Expériences – 1er Jour
Premier jour d’échange, une journée ensoleillée s’annonçait en laissant s’évanouir la fatigue de la veille. 9 heures tapantes, tous les participants malgaches se retrouvèrent dans le hall de l’hôtel où le responsable du projet RDP FIDA Maurice et la Jeune Professionel de Madagascar au FIDA Rome les rejoignirent.

Avec 3 rencontres prévues dans l’agenda, les esprits se libéraient pour laisser place à la découverte et à l’enrichissement :
- Accueil chaleureux au RDP, le Coordinateur n’a pas manqué de bien orienter les participants en expliquant aussi bien le cadrage général que les aspects très pratiques du projet FIDA à Maurice. Accent particulier mis sur les femmes par l’encouragement à la diversification et à l’ajout de valeur aux produits primaires ;
- Echange avec une femme à responsabilités, le point focal PNUD-IFAD/FAO a orienté la rencontre sur le partage des bonnes pratiques inter-projets ;
- En dernier mais pas le moindre, l’Agricultural Research and Extension Unit a permis aux femmes malgaches d’enrichir leurs connaissances en matière de technologie moderne aussi bien dans la production que la transformation. Le système hydroponique a sidéré plus d’un…

Les femmes malgaches ont eu l’honneur de paraître à la télévision nationale mauricienne pour mieux faire connaître leur pays et leurs activités, et pouvoir exprimer leur satisfaction,
Hélas, la fin de la journée approche, on n’a pas manqué de s’échanger les coordonnées pour pouvoir continuer incessamment ces partages si enrichissants. En tout cas, puisse chacun retenir la bonne impression sur la motivation accrue des femmes mauriciennes et leur audace à se lancer dans l’entrepreneuriat…

Assistante du Programme FIDA PROSPERER

Web2.0 briefing session

Posted by Maria Elena Thursday, June 11, 2009 2 comments

Virtual debriefing session: Heard about web2.0 tools such as blogs, wikis, twitter and wonder how you can use them?

This session took place, 11 June - the day after Web2.0 was crowned as English's 1 millionth word.

The KM team that organized the event had to change venue to the Italian Conference Room given the huge number of staff who registered!

Thanks to the excellent presentations made by Roxy and Amedeo their enthusiasm for these tools is starting to rub off on many of us.

We all wanted to learn more about this amazing and overwhelming new world where we are no longer spectators of the web but we can actually be the PRODUCERS - that's why Times Magazine proclaimed YOU has the person of the year in 2006! The new Web is a very different than it was 15 years ago - Web2.0 brings together contributions of millions of people.

As Roxy says, "the sky is the limit" - these tools offer many, many different opportunities and ways to share knowledge - tools like: blogs, wikis, twitter, doodle, SlideShare, Picasa, Flicker, Linkedin, blip.tv, YouTube, TinyChat, Google Maps, Googledocs and more!

Many of our colleagues are twitters, bloggers, YouTubers, doodlers, etc. As we all know even The President has his blog and we are using IFAD social reporting blog to share knowledge in real-time.

Many of us are now eager to join the hands-on training sessions to find opportunities to make these tools work for us and for our partners in the field - to work better, to communicate better and to create and share knowledge.

La visite d’échange fait partie d’une nouvelle initiative mise en œuvre par le FIDA et la FAO pour renforcer l’intégration du genre dans les programmes de développement, à travers le renforcement des capacités, des études participatives, et de la gestion du savoir. Le thème de la visite portera sur les micro-entreprises engagées dans la transformation des produits agricoles où les femmes Mauriciennes ont connu un certain succès. Elles partageront donc ces connaissances avec leur homologues Malgaches.
Six femmes rurales provenant des deux projets FIDA au Madagascar ont été choisies et seront accompagnées par des « points focaux sur le genre » des projets et du Ministère de l’agriculture, de l’élevage et de la pêche. Certaines d’entre elles sont des leaders, et d’autres, des membres simples des différentes associations. Ce groupement a été spécialement constitué afin de permettre le dialogue et le partage entre les deux types de catégories pour inculquer un sens de leadership parmi les membres simples. A l’île Maurice, le groupe malgache se rencontrera avec les représentants du Ministère de la femme, le Conseil des femmes entrepreneurs, l’Assemblée régionale Rodriguaise, la FAO, etc. Il va aussi visiter quelques sites d’agro-industries dans lesquelles les femmes sont très impliquées. L’objectif comporte deux volets : (i) De permettre aux femmes Malgaches de prendre une part active pendant les rencontres et visites et d’organiser ces informations afin de leur permettre de partager ces connaissances avec leurs associations respectives à leur retour chez elles; et (ii) D’établir un réseau régionale en genre à travers lequel les femmes des deux pays pourraient continuer les échanges d’information.

Restez branché avec nous du 15 au 24 juin 2009, période pendant laquelle on pourra suivre jour après jour le parcours d’échanges qui aura lieu entre ces femmes rurales des deux îles voisines.

The exchange visit is part of a new initiative supported by IFAD and FAO on Regional Capacity Building and Knowledge Management for Gender Equality. The theme of the visit will revolve around the micro-entrepreneurial successes of the women of Mauritius, notably in Rodrigues Island, and to share this know-how with interested Malagasy rural women who have recently embarked on similar activities. Special focus will be on agro-processing and the dynamics of women’s organizational capacities.

Six rural women from two on-going projects in Madagascar have been selected and will be accompanied by project and ministry gender focal points. Some women are leaders in their different associations whereas others are active members, this has been expressly arranged to allow communication between the two in order to inspire the active members towards taking leadership roles. In Mauritius, the Malagasy group will be meeting with representatives from the Ministry of Women’s Rights, the Women Entrepreneurial Council, Rodrigues Regional Assembly, FAO, etc. They will visit a few agro-processing sites where women are actively involved. The aim is two-fold: (i) for the Malagasy women to take a lead during those meetings and visits, and for them to organise the information in such a way as to allow them to share with their respective associations once they are back home, and (ii) to establish or hook up to a regional network on gender whereby women from both countries can continue exchanging information.

Mark your calendars as from the 15 June 2009 where we will follow everyday for 10 days this knowledge sharing journey where rural women of two neighbouring Indian Ocean islands come together. Comments and views are more than welcome!

Stay tuned!

8:25am Laurentina metro station. The 26-seat IFAD shuttle bus pulls into the Laurentina metro station and 15 happy and smiling customers get on the bus.

The Harvard Business Review argues that you can measure the level of employee satisfaction by sitting in the reception and counting how many people walk in with a smile and say, “Good morning”.

Well, if that is a key performance indicator, and if we were to replace the reception with the bus, we might be able say that IFAD employees are highly satisfied and very happy.

Conventional wisdom would say that the sole purpose of a shuttle bus is to take people from point A to point B. The 40-50 IFAD regular commuters who take the shuttle bus daily say that this service has created a sense of community and is encouraging knowledge sharing!

"More than once I've taken the opportunity of the commute to give colleagues an orientation on the Quality Assurance process," says Chitra Deshpande. "I now have numerous informal exchanges and more importantly lots of inter-hierarchal exchanges".

For the shuttle users, the introduction of the bus service has led to better work-life balance and makes the journey to the office both more pleasant and less stressful.

"I now leave the car at home, take a nice walk and get the shuttle bus," says Gisela Barbieri. "As a result, I am less stressed and in the evening the walk back home from the train station helps me unwind and relax."

For Alicia Pond, the shuttle bus is heavenly. "Thanks to the shuttle bus I now start my day on the right foot, as I do not have to struggle to get on the bus and feel crushed like sardines," she says.

"It is funny, but since this service was institutionalized, I not only get to the office on time, but I also work more, because I have a reliable source of transportation and need to allocate only 20 minutes travel time as opposed to 60 minutes," explains Deshpande.

During the summer months or Italian public holidays, public transportation is less frequent, which previously would have meant a longer commute time. The shuttle service provides a reliable source of transportation all year long.

If you were one the sceptics, for sure you'll appreciate that this new service has proven to be a win-win experiment. The next step for all of us would be to encourage colleagues who drive to work to leave their cars at home and use the shuttle service, thus contributing to decreasing carbon emissions.

Expand your network and meet new people by joining the shuttle bus community:
Morning schedule
– From Laurentina train station to IFAD HQ
7.40 7.55 8.10 8.25 8.40 8.55 9.10 9.25

Afternoon schedule – From IFAD HQ to Laurentina train station
16.45 17.05 17.20 17.35 17.50 18.05 18.20 18.35 18.50