The objective of the project is to provide access to businesses and microfinance services for disadvantaged women: current and former prisoners, victims of domestic violence living in shelters, and those in other destitute circumstances. The project will enable these women to reintegrate into economic and social life.
The project Women’s Access to Microfinance and Support to Victims of Violence in Yemen was jointly financed by the Arab Gulf Fund for Development (AGFUND) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. A major objective of the project was to provide access to businesses and microfinance services for disadvantaged women: current and former prisoners, women in shelters, and those in other destitute circumstances. The project will enable these women to reintegrate into economic and social life. Therefore, the focus was on capacity development for those who work directly with female victims of violence: the staff of women’s shelters, police officers, and lending officers of microfinance institutions.
The project expected an increase of income as enabling these women to play a greater role in decision making, to contribute to their families’ welfare, and to improve their standard of living as well as the level of their children’s education. Hence, the families’ future prospects are secured and the families are less likely to become victims of violence. Women living in shelters received support in establishing or expanding their own businesses or finding employment.
The project worked closely with microfinance institutions: the Al-Amal Bank for Microfinance, the National Microfinance Foundation and the Aden Microfinance Foundation. Lending officers were trained to track the impact of small loans on clients from poor and disadvantaged social backgrounds.
Other cooperation partners which link women in shelters and prisons to organisations providing small loans were the Yemeni Women’s Union (YWU), and the Women National Committee (WNC) – which acted within its mandate as a policy advisory body. Further vital partners were the Ministry of Interior in Yemen, the police force, and prisons in Sana’a, Aden, Taiz and Al-Mukhallah.
Additionally, the Centre for Arab Women Training and Research (CAWTAR) in Tunisia has assisted with the implementation of training workshops for the police and the staff of women shelters.
According to the impact evaluation results, the project was successful in achieving most of its objectives, thereby enabling women to create an income and improve the living conditions for themselves and their families. Especially remarkable is the fact that the project participants were able to raise income in spite of the continuously deteriorating economic environment. Furthermore, the project contributed to increasing awareness about gender based violence (GBV) in Yemen among government authorities, NGOs, and individuals.
For the project, target groups and their needs were identified through 37 local NGOs in seven areas of Yemen. 3,379 women from the target groups were trained in different skills, business development skills and financial literacy. Moreover, five workshops on awareness and empowerment were implemented for 564 women of the target group.
A handbook for police officers in Yemen on how to adequately support female victims of violence was produced. The police manual was tested through a TOT for 20 female and male police officers from the police academy in Sana’a and through training for 20 female and male staff members from Hodiedah central prison. The Ministry of Interior is taking steps to integrate the training modules into the curriculum of the National Police Academy.
Furthermore, 82 staff employees from women shelters, prisons and NGOs were trained in order to develop their managerial, project planning, and supervisory skills. The shelters and women‘s rights organisations involved in the project are now playing a greater role in lobbying for legal change and in helping women to re-integrate into social and family life – a direct result of enhanced training for staff in networking, conflict resolution, and mediation.
More than 4,000 women in shelters, prisons, and from poor families have participated in various skill trainings, financial literacy and business development services to start their own projects. To date, 388 projects have been launched with the help of loans from the partner microfinance institutions. More generally, around 80% of the women who participated in the trainings were able to raise their income as result of the training.
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AGFUND is a regional developmental funding organisation based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, under the patronage of HRH Prince Talal Bin Abdul Aziz, the President of AGFUND. AGFUND works in the field of development at the international level through an effective partnership with GIZ, the UN, international, regional, and national development organisations, public institutions, the private sector, and civil society organisations.