This initiative implemented between October and December 2022 was aimed to empower and increase the agency of the women of the two villages.
Stepping Up Project: collaboration between the UNDP and ENL Foundation to empower women of Le Bouchon and L’Escalier
January 27, 2023
On 21 January 2023, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Mauritius and the ENL Foundation (ENLF) awarded certificates to 33 women from the villages of Le Bouchon and L’Escalier for their successful completion of self-empowering courses under the ‘Stepping Up’ Project. This initiative implemented between October and December 2022 was aimed to empower and increase the agency of the women of the two villages through a Capacity Strengthening Journey and support to income-generating, educational and sustainable agricultural initiatives.
Le Bouchon and L’Escalier are villages which rank low in the latest Relative Development Index (RDI) 2012 for Mauritius. The inhabitants of these localities, especially women, face various challenges to their economic empowerment and well-being owing to social, structural and geographic factors. In Le Bouchon specifically, many women who carry out handicraft activities suffer from geographical isolation and limited access to markets, while significant cases of substance abuse and domestic violence were also noted.
Connecting the dots
During the inception phase of the ‘Stepping Up’ Project, site visits led by the representatives of UNDP and ENL Foundation allowed to meet women from the two villages to better understand their needs. In this context, the Socio Economic Development Unit (SEDU) Team of UNDP engaged with a group of women regrouped under the name “Saveurs typiques”, who prepare and sell local dishes to earn a living; two members of ‘La Ferme Nou Leritaz’ – an integrated agricultural hub; and representatives of ‘Nou Tou Ansam’ – a community house providing educational support to children, adult literacy courses and other activities in L’Escalier.
The inception phase also included consultative group meetings and one-to-one interviews with women aged between 19 to 66 years to ensure a comprehensive needs assessment and inform the SEDU team and facilitators. Based on the needs analysis carried out, these women were invited to participate in discussions on self-knowledge, communication skills, emotions and conflict management; a Psychosocial Support Programme, and peer-to-peer exchanges with role models from other communities.
Additionally, in the course of the project, the infrastructures of ‘Saveurs Typiques’ were consolidated, and equipment and materials were provided to support the agricultural activities of “La Ferme Nou Leritaz”. The ‘Stepping Up’ project also provided ‘Art Therapy’ sessions to 29 children aged between 6 to 12 years.
Following the implementation, case management and psychosocial follow up counselling sessions were carried out during the month of January 2023. The women participants also met for peer-to-peer workshop to share their experiences before and during the project.