A small leadership delegation of the Canadian International Development Research Centre (IDRC), which is providing a two-year research grant for the Women Rise Research Project has arrived in the Eastern Cape for a few days as part of a monitoring visit.
The Canadian IDRC, champions innovation and funds high-quality research in developing countries, shares knowledge from and with researchers and policymakers for greater uptake and use, and mobilise global stakeholders to build a more sustainable and inclusive world.
The IDRC has provided a R11-million grant funding for the Women Rise Research Project, which is being run by HSRC/ WSU/ ECSECC and McGill University (Canada) since beginning of 2023. The aim of this project is first to determine how women in rural and peri-urban Eastern Cape have been affected by the pandemic through 6 -10 months of ethnographic case studies, which will explore their experiences of accessing healthcare, finding economic support (through formal employment and informal avenues), and of striving to mitigate the "thinning” of social relations and cohesion during the pandemic.
The project has employed seven (7) EC masters and PhD candidate local researchers (6 females and 1 male, all youth). They are doing their ethnographic research in communities across the province including Tsolo, Mount Ayliff, Mount Frere, Misty Mount, Cwebe, Tuba location and Gwaba village.
The results and insights generated from this bottom-up research will then be contrasted with the prevailing policies and development practices in the field of especially health and economic development, which often inhibit positive change in women’s lives. The aim will then to be create channels of communication, action and impact through new forms of peoples’ science, namely co-produced knowledge and practice established the interface of social life and development policy. This will then inform the research report and planned policy intervention proposals, which will be crafted in consultation with various stakeholders and national, provincial and local government by the end of the first half of the 2024/25 financial year.
The IDRC this week sent their Jordan-based Senior Program Specialist for Global Health, Qamar Mahmood, and Kenya-based African Population and Health Research Policy and Advocacy Manager, Lynette Kamau. The IDRC delegation was complemented by a Canadian-based McGill University Graduate Master’s student Devena Mahabir who will also support the project on mainly sexual and reproductive health issues as it enters its second and final year.
The delegation met with ECSECC CEO Luvuyo Mosana as part of their monitoring visit at the ECSECC offices on Monday, 5 February 2024, where the CEO had an opportunity to brief them on the mission, vision, and value-proposition of the organisation.
Mahmood said they were in the Eastern Cape because the project was at "mid-point”.
"We thought we should visit and do project-monitoring to learn about how the project has developed and some of the challenges encountered and how the experience has been,” said Mahmood.
Kamau highlighted that: "We are here to learn about the project, hear from colleagues about what the evidence looks like and to potentially see how does this speak to the bigger theme of women rise around gender transformative research and to see how that can be documented as well.”
The project is mapping, tracing, and documenting how folk models, local practice and local beliefs shape the social economy of health, labour and well-being for women post the pandemic.
The IDRC monitoring visit also includes attendance of a report back and planning workshop in Chintsa from 6 – 9 February 2024 with all key management and local researchers of the project.
So far, some of the key themes produced from various ethnographic life histories and observations include: Livelihoods and Vulnerability; Gender-Generational Based Violence; Mental Health and Well-being; Managing Cultural Practices/Ritual; Alcohol and Drug Use and Abuse; Sexual and Reproductive Health; Clinics, Nurses, Basic services; Covid and Comorbidities; Democracy, Governance and Participation; Homestead and Communal Farming; Care work / rural unpaid women’s labour; and Crime and Rural Policing.
The preliminary work of the researchers has inter alia been packaged as preliminary papers, presentations and blogs and have been placed on the project’s own website and can be accessed here