Empowering Change: A Week with AFESE in Guinea [GUI289]
Eric M. Washington
In the University Abdoulaye Barry meeting room at Kipé in Conakry, surrounded by eager faces, a sense of anticipation filled the air. It was June 30, 2023, the commencement of a transformative week in Guinea. At the helm of this mission was Dr. Sandra Ross, an Expert in International Development and a long-term volunteer for the F2F program. Dr. Ross’ task was to empower 18 individuals with crucial knowledge about gender equality, demystifying the nuanced interplay between gender and development. Dr. Ross’s focus for the week was “Gender Mainstreaming” in F2F Activities Implementation. Though the terminology might sound complex, it boils down to a singular aim: promoting equality between women and men in all spheres of life and actively combating discrimination.
The host organization, AFESE Conakry, primarily aids women in agriculture and product marketing. Throughout the week, attendees learned the distinctions between gender and sex, the concepts of equality vs. equity, and the various stereotypes hindering men and women at different life stages. One participant, Ms. Aida Coker Bangoura, the AFESE Social Affairs Secretary, reflected, “Having attended many training sessions on Gender, it’s only now I’ve truly grasped the concept, especially understanding the difference between Gender and Sex, as well as Equality and Equity.”
Dr. Ross introduced group discussions, practical exercises, and video examples to supplement theoretical instruction. These methods were designed to engage participants actively and to foster critical thinking. This dynamic approach bore fruit when Ms. Mariam Moyan Condé, AFESE’s Foreign Affairs Secretary, shared her renewed confidence, stating, “We are now prepared to conduct conferences on Gender Mainstreaming in Schools and Loss Island, aiming to raise awareness about these vital issues.”
This training would not have seen its success without collaboration. The Abdoulaye Barry University graciously opened its doors for the sessions, reflecting a commitment that, combined with Dr. Ross’s efforts, made the week educational and profoundly impactful. To recognize each participant’s dedication and hard work, they were awarded certificates of participation at the week’s conclusion. For many attendees, this week was a pivotal experience. However, for Dr. Ross, it signified something even more profound. It was an opportunity to witness the dedication of each participant, to see relationships form, hopes shared, and aspirations nurtured.
Gratitude goes out to everyone who made this journey possible, from Bara Kassambara, the facilitating consultant, to Mamadou Bailo Diallo, the dedicated driver, and every passionate member of AFESE. Their collective efforts promise to create ripples of change, reaching corners far beyond that university room, signaling a brighter, more equal future for Guinea. Let this be a reminder to the readers that change begins with comprehension. Let us collectively stride forward in understanding and advocating for gender equality, not only in Guinea but worldwide. Because when united, there is no obstacle too significant to surmount.