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GENDER Mainstreaming Project Brought Changes to Several Families

GENDER Mainstreaming Project Brought Changes to Several Families

The Change Your Life Campaign organized by VF AzerCredit together with its Gender Mainstreaming Project Partners Oxfam Novib, Microfinance Centre (MFC) and Azerbaijan Micro-Finance Association (AMFA) and aimed at gender mainstreaming into microfinance using innovative solutions ended on November 15, 2011.

The main goal of the Gender Mainstreaming Project was to add value to clients` lives through empowerment of both women and men and use of life planning tools. In spring 2010 VF AzerCredit launched a pilot test to see how people can best benefit from the use of gender and life planning tools and the key findings from the pilot workshops pointed out that awareness on gender issues was raised and most participants enjoyed the planning tools as they could use them for the improvement of their businesses.

Inspiring from the results of the pilot program, the Change Your Life Campaign was started on September 15, 2011 to reach as many people as possible. The Campaign ended on November 15, 2011. During this period of time two outlets - Mingachevir Branch and Goygol Sub-Branch distributed about 600 booklets communicating these tools to any persons (both clients and non-clients) who were interested in the Campaign. After doing the exercises given in the booklet, about 348 participants filled in the flyers specially designed for the contest and submitted those flyers to either Mingachevir or Goygol offices of VF AzerCredit.

The booklet offers several easy and entertaining exercises. As stated by the participants, they spent from 1 hour to 10 days to fill in the booklets and it was very interesting to arrive at some unexpected results. The participants enthusiastically did the Gender Diamond, Challenge Action Tree and Road Journey exercises step by step:

  1. The Gender Diamond was a key exercise to foster the discussion between women and men, particularly wives and husbands about how to improve their relationships. By using this tool the participants revealed the main problems which significantly affected their personal lives. Moreover, figuring out the negative and positive sides of family life impacted their views and both women and men started to pay more attention to the details that though seemed small at first sight, played an important role in the happiness of a family.
  2. The Challenge Action Tree helped the participants to learn how to face and overcome problems. By using this tool, they analyzed their main problems, figured out key obstacles and worked out appropriate solutions. Most of the plans outlined by the participants were logical and demonstrated that a clear analysis of what caused the challenge and what were the solutions had been made.
  3. Strategic planning skills offered by the Road Journey exercise helped the users to visualize what they wanted to achieve with regard to their family, business, and other life goals. In another word, by doing this exercise they determined how to firmly move forward in their lives. The Road Journey Tool contributed to clients` decision-making process and positively affected their vision.
The answers provided by the contestants were assessed by an independent jury. The answers were graded according to their completeness, consistency and uniqueness.

The winners of the Contest were awarded by VF AzerCredit in Mingachevir on December 7, 2011 and in Goygol on December 8, 2011. The first 3 place takers received home appliances of their choice costing respectively 500 AZN, 300 AZN, and 150 AZN. Next 20 winners got cell phone cards amounting 10 AZN each.

Elshan Garayev, a client from Mingachevir Branch took the 1st place. This 41-year-old man, besides working in a factory, drives a taxi after working hours to ensure a decent life for his family, particularly two children of his. As he says, he filled in the booklet for 3 days together with his mother. As a result, he got 19 points out of 20. He chose a set of furniture and a water heater as a prize. He expressed his impression about the Campaign as follows:

"When I first saw the booklet it attracted my attention. As I flipped the pages, it formed new ideas in my mind. After completing the booklet my vision and views have significantly changed. I`ve learned a lot from the booklet and now I am trying to implement all the learned in my life."

Zulfani Naghiyeva and Gunel Gasimova took the 2nd and 3rd places. These female customers are from Goygol Sub-Branch. As per their wishes, Zulfani Naghiyeva received an LCD TV and Gunel Gasimova received a telephone set, an iron and a firer as a prize.

20 more people (12 female and 8 male clients) won special mention prizes – each of them got phone cards of 10 AZN.

In the awarding ceremony, in Mingachevir, VF AzerCredit`s Central Regional Manager Ali Malikov made a speech and congratulated all of the winners once again. He talked about the importance of the project and wished the best luck to the participants. Afterwards AMFA`s representative Sevda Huseynova addressed the winners, talked about the cooperation between AMFA and VF AzerCredit and the benefits of the presented life planning tools.

After all, winners received their prizes and ceremony was broadcasted by Mingachevir`s local TV channel.

In Goygol, VF AzerCredit`s North Regional Manager Ilham Abdullayev congratulated the winners, talked about the VF AzerCredit and its social mission, then AMFA`s representative Sevda Huseynova talked about the VF AzerCredit`s contribution to this kind of projects.

2nd and 3rd place takers and other winners received their prizes. At the end the contestants and VF AzerCredit staff took a group photo.

As declared by the participants, the booklet allowed the participants to review relationships in the family, increased sincerity in the family, gave spouses an opportunity to tell each other what they had never said before; some families first time in their lives planned their future with the involvement of both husband and wife; some people learned how to solve problems through planning; particularly women`s self-confidence and hope for the future increased; spouses more clearly understood their responsibilities before their families. It has been stated that VF AzerCredit`s endeavors to organize such campaigns demonstrates that the organization is really interested in its clients` welfare.

On December 16, 2011 the results of the Project were announced in Baku at a seminar held for this purpose. The event was organized by AMFA and MFC and guests were from several financial institutions, foreign embassies, NGOs and different areas of the civil society.

At the beginning, the Chairman of the Board of AMFA, Suleyman Kalashli welcomed the participants and gave a brief introduction. Then Senior Project Coordinator from Microfinance Centre (MFC), Kinga Dabrowska talked about the development of the Gender Project, its implementation and future plans. AMFA`s Regional Network Coordinator Sevda Huseynova delivering the following presentation, informed guests about the Project from the beginning through the end. She talked about the pilot program which was initially organized in 2010 and its successful results and introduced one of the success stories of that program – Aytakin Bakhishova, as well as the winner of the Change Your Life Campaign Elshan Garayev. Both of them shared their personal experience. In their speeches they stressed the value of the GALS tools. Aytakin Bakhishova specified how positively her life was affected by the Project and she spoke about rapid career improvements in her life after the use of these life planning tools.

Afterwards VF AzerCredit`s Marketing and Product Development Manager Mehriban Yusifova delivered a presentation about the involvement of VF AzerCredit in the Project and its benefits for the organization. She indicated that projects with social objectives are very important for VF AzerCredit as the organization pursues both financial and social goals. In her speech she also revealed the benefits of the Project for the organization, particularly highlighting that the Project helped to get better understanding of clients and their needs, relationships between LOs and clients strengthened, existing customers highly appreciated the extra attention they received from VF AzerCredit and new clients with clear visions were gained by the organization as a result of the Project. Most of the guests expressed their appreciation of such a project.

The event continued with Q&A and at the very end the participants discussed their views, challenges and suggestions with each other.

To download the booklet please click here
December 2011

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