THE 7 STEPS - WOMEN EMPOWERMENT PROGRAM
Sisterpower has developed a unique and innovative empowerment program based on safety plan work and trauma treatment by some of the Worlds leading experts.
The Empowerment Program is built on the idea of having local out-patient centers, where women can participate on a daily basis in a given period and work their way through the program with support from the center's staff and the other women in the project.
They will joint the program part-time for 6 month and in that period complete the 7 steps of the programme.
They will leave the program empowered, with a safety net in the form of a tight-knit network of women and an access to earning their own money.
The 7 steps of our empowerment program are described in detail below.
STEP 1 - LEGAL SAFETY
There are several laws that give women the power to fight adversities such as discrimination, harassment, violence and abuse.
Women rights can be broadly classified into two categories — constitutional rights and legal rights. Those guaranteed by the Constitution include Right to Equality, no discrimination in employment on the ground of sex, to secure adequate means of livelihood, equal pay for equal work, securing just and humane conditions of work and maternity relief etc. On the other hand, legal rights are available to women in the form of prevailing law or enactments in the country.
Unfortunately, women in developing country are mostly unaware of their rights because of illiteracy and the oppressive tradition.
Through our Empowerment Programme women will learn how the legal system works and they will receive some degree of legal practice to support this knowledge and possible actions that can be taken in a given situation where their security, legal rights and dignity are being violated. This will also know where they can seek free legal advice.
Ethics and moral conditions are also part of the programme in order to help them build their own judgment about individual situations and dilemmas.
It has been proven that legal empowerment activities are especially effective when they are included as components of more mainstream development initiatives.
STEP 2 - PHYSICAL SAFETY
Physical safety is a fundamental prerequisite for women's empowerment, and it is too often lacking even in the world's most highly developed regions.
Studies suggest that women's physical safety and higher levels of gender equality correlate with security and peacefulness of entire countries.
Sisterpowers physical safety work springs from the safety plan concept, originally developed in Australia in order to create safety for children at risk and implemented in many European countries with great success.
We have adjusted this methodology to enhance the work for women at risk.
When implementing this concept, we work to connect vulnerable women with a network of people around them who care about their lives and safety and who can help protect them from abuse. This factor alone will leave them and their children in better living conditions if nothing else changes.
Detailed comprehensive and tested safety plans will be created for all women involved in our empowerment programme. These plans are based on the women's own ideas and solutions to help create safety for her. Our work includes helping them find the right people they can trust and engage with, to be and feel much safer in the world.
The safety plan is developed in groups and is followed up with testing and adjustment of the plans in the same groups throughout the program. As part of the safety planning process and group work, there will be an incentive work to encourage women to support women as a social safety network in their local communities to create sustainable change in both families and society as a whole.
The women will also get access to a smart phone and a special Sisterpower safety app.
STEP 3 - MENTAL HEALTH AND EMOTIONAL SAFETY
Gender specific risk factors for common mental disorders that disproportionately affect women include gender based violence, socioeconomic disadvantage, low income and income inequality, low or subordinate social status and rank and unremitting responsibility for the care of others.
The high prevalence of sexual violence to which women are exposed results in a correspondingly high rate of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
In order for women to gain from an empowerment programme, their mental health must be taken into account, but the remedy must be a holistic one.
The treatment of mental illness must address the family conditions, poverty, access to economic opportunities, or abuse, which are at the core.
The basis of emotional safety is physical safety, which alone will lead to an increased stabilisation of women's physical and emotional lives and will help them get ready for trauma treatment. Hence this chronological order of the steps in the program.
The purpose of trauma treatment is to treat the traumatic memories that prevents the women from feeling safe in themselves and in being in the world.
Post trauma treatment, the women will have processed the traumatic events in a way that will help store their traumatic memories in the nervous system the same way as the brain store normal memories, so they will not be trigged by them again in the present or in the future. They will go through a process from being a victim of the abusive and suppressing life circumstances to becoming a survivor and eventually also start thriving, so that they can use their energy to build a new life for themselves and their family.
There are several methods for working with trauma and the people behind SisterPower are highly trained in SE, NARM & EMDR.
STEP 4 - FINANCIAL AND TECHNOLOGICAL SAFETY
The Global Findex tells us that 1.1 billion women – more than half of the world’s unbanked population — do not have an account at a bank, while hundreds of millions more do not have access to the full set of financial products. In addition, women own roughly one-third of the 200 million businesses in emerging economies that have no or insufficient access to credit. Providing these women with basic financial services – that fundamental first step toward economic empowerment — can unlock unprecedented economic growth and job creation and can have a direct impact on development outcomes such as health, education, food security, and water and sanitation.
and economic status.
Women spend, save and invest money in profoundly different ways than men. When women have discretion over their financial choices, they prioritize spending on their families. On average, women spend 90 cents out of every dollar earned on education, health care, and housing, in comparison to men’s 60 cents. Improving a woman’s financial access brings with it a “multiplier effect” that will be critical to realizing the potential of financial inclusion for reducing poverty and driving economic growth.
Yet low-income women face a number of barriers that hinder their access to these services.
First, millions of women lack the documentation and other forms of identification to open even a simple savings account.
The second barrier women face is a lack of collateral. Women generally have fewer assets to pledge to a bank and in many countries are legally barred from owning or inheriting land.
Finally, more than 1.7 billion women in low and middle-income countries do not even own a cell phone and worldwide, 200 million more men have internet access than women. This lack of access to technology combined with lower financial and digital literacy prevents them from fully utilizing digital financial services.
Worldwide, 200 million more men have internet access than women. Women are also 21 percent less likely to own a mobile phone, a key resource in developing countries where phones provide security, mobile health care and facilitate money transfers.
Therefore, technology has great potential in closing the gender gap and empowering women in developing countries.
In order to create financial and technological empowerment through our empowerment programme we give women the opportunity to earn an income through self-employment during the course. They will be taught about entrepreneurship, learn to use technology to manage their finances and sell their products and they will have access to a workshop and a handicraft teacher and learn to produce sellable producs.
STEP 5 - SOCIAL SAFETY
Within social work, it has been well documented that isolation creates an increased risk of social and health challenges, whereas social networks and social engagement in each other are known as very effective buffers for social problems and an important protection factor.
Our empowerment programme works to create safety within the family but also to create opportunities for a better life in the local communities with a focus on “bridging” people together in new ways, create social safety nets and the development of new social systems based on the importance of networks.
Networking is generally a key to solving many social challenges, but it takes some time and commitment to change consciousness from "Survival of the fittest" to “sharing is caring”. In many countries, it is not a practice to support and care for each other outside your own family. Therefore, there is often a great emotional barrier to overcome in order to access the great resources and the great strength of the network.
It also requires specific mindset and skills to learn to network, to gain experience in both building networks and learning to use the potential of one's network for the benefit of one's needs or one's cause but also showing up for others when needed. The social network approach is based on reciprocity and "what goes around comes around. Hence the foundation for the last part of the program "pay-it-forward"
In order to understand the importance of the last step in the program, women must gain a social understanding through the element of social security. We humans are built to survive, evolve and thrive through attachment to close relationships.
That is also why we include Community empowerment in our programme. Through open seminars, workshops and lectures we can educate educate the community of the benefits of a stronger social security system beneficial for all community members.
STEP 6 - STRUCTURAL SAFETY
The societal factors that are influencing womens safety in general are structurel factors such as culture, religion, societal norms and politics. In SisterPower we want to create sustainable change for the women through creating structural changes in the societies.
So, this step also work on 2 levels – both an individual level with the women enrolled in the program and through community empowerment.
This step aims towards creating protection from the danger of being abused, oppressed, discriminated against or stigmatized on the basis of their religion, cast, gender, sexuality or polical views but also to make them able to act in accordance with their own beliefs and value systems and of course always in accordance with applicable law.
We want women to be able to raise their voices and speak their truth without the fear of reprisals. Therefore, we need to involve the community, so the transformation can happen in a peaceful and harmonious way with respect for all involved.
One of the ways to attain this, is to develop "interfaith dialogue", which is a collaborative, constructive and positive interaction between people with different religious traditions and / or spiritual or humanistic faith, both on an individual and institutional level.
STEP 7 - PAY IT FORWARD
The empowerment programme is not fulfilled until the women have taken responsibility for bringing gained knowledge through the programme to other vulnerable women in the local communities.
The knowledge and experience that the women gain from the programme must spread like wildfire through women who support women. This is where the real Empowerment lies - through gaining knowledge, skills and power to be able to create a better life for oneself and one's family and then teach other women to achieve the same level of security, dignity and welfare that they themselves have achieved through this program.
The women in the programme undertake to complete the entire programme and thus also go through the last step of "pay-it-forward".
Here are some of the elements that women should commit to passing on to other women in need:
- To take responsibility for supporting other women in creating a similar change as the one they have created through the 7 step empowerment programme.
- To use their new knowledge and experience to create a movement of "women who support women". And thereby always refer to opportunities for support and help outside the project for other women - including the network app, partners, financial help and other NGOs in the field.
- To take on a mentor role for other women in later courses in the Sisterhood project.
- To donate some time to help spread the word at Sisterpower events and theme days for the local community, etc.
- To continue to join group courses in your local Sisterhood and get to know new women and get inspiration for new local initiatives.
- To learn to develop and facilitate group courses and gather women to support each other in small local groups.
- To use the Sisterpower help app.