I-P-K Facilitates its First Bi-Lingual Policy Formulation Workshop in Maputo on Women Entrepreneurship in Southern Africa

WEDGE logoILO LogoOn 3 and 4 November we had the opportunity to facilitate our first workshop in Maputo, Mozambique, for the ILO’s Women’s Entrepreneurship Development and Gender Equality in Southern Africa (WEDGE-SA) programme. The workshop was designed to enable the roughly 70 participants from the four programme countries (Mozambique, South Africa, Lesotho and Malawi) to elaborate the major building blocks required to move policy formulation in their respective country forwards, i.e. influence and transform their national policy environments to become more favourable for women led and owned enterprises.

Some participants struggled to grasp the abstract nature of working on measures to influence national policy formulation and other frameworks (macro level) – they had an inevitable tendency to fall back into discussing and suggesting issues and measures linked to the three other levels, such as: changing the socio-economic context (meta level); providing training (micro level) and; financial assistance to women entrepreneurs (meso level). For many participants thinking on the policy and framework level might have been a new experience, for others it wasn’t. At the start of the second workshop day we, however, successfully clarified the difference between the four different intervention levels using the following graphic illustration.

It was a bilingual workshop and the fact that about two thirds where Portuguese speaking (of which probably about half were also fluent in English) and the other third of the participants were English speaking posed certain challenges. We were fortunate to enjoy the services of two simultaneous interpreters as well as many of the bilingual participants helping out with interpreting during the small group working sessions. The small groups were formed randomly in a self-organising fashion, which sometimes led to language imbalanced groups in which in some instances the minority language monolingual speakers felt isolated from the rest of the group. We conclude from this that at our next bilingual event, we would like to try giving participants clearly recognisable “language tags” next time around, i.e. English only, Portuguese only or bi-lingual. This way we could ask participants to form more balanced language groups when re-grouping between the different sessions. We would still not recommend sticking to monolingual groups at a bilingual event, as we feel it would be a missed opportunity in terms of captialising on the experience of learning across borders and working across country and language barriers, and thereby creating more cohesion and understanding amongst the different participating countries and organisations within a project/ programme.

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