- Belgium (Liège)
Hello, my name is Valentin Decamp. I’m 33 and I’m a master’s student in educational sciences at the University of Liège, with a focus on adult education. I previously graduated as a primary school teacher. I wanted to continue my studies so that I could learn more about pedagogy and open a few doors to work with adults, for instance.
My main task was to design and run a training programme on the theme of gender and on the A-WEAI index, which calculates the level of empowerment of women and men in the agriculture sector.
As part of my master’s studies, I seized the opportunity to do an internship with Eclosio, with an abroad part in Senegal. My main job was to design and run a training programme on gender issues and the A-WEAI index, which calculates the level of empowerment of women and men in the agricultural sector. The training was aimed at Senegalese members of two Belgian university NGOs – Eclosio (based at the University of Liège) and ULB-Coopération (based at the Free University of Brussels), as well as local partners. The aim was to enable these people to become more familiar with the A-WEAI index and then use it to collect data.
Before going back over how my internship went, I’d like to give you a brief introduction to the Abbreviated Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (A-WEAI). It was particularly designed by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFRI) and tested in various countries by Feed the Future in 2011 and 2012. The index includes five main areas of empowerment: production; income; resources; time allocation; and leadership. For each of these fields, a questionnaire has been designed to collect data – except for the income, there are two. For example, in the area of time allocation, men and women from the same household describe a 24-hour day with their respective activities. This can help to understand the workload distribution. The objectives of using this index are: to measure women’s empowerment, involvement and inclusion in the agricultural sector; to assess empowerment and gender parity in agriculture; to identify key areas where empowerment needs to be strengthened; and to monitor progress over time. In other words, NGOs wishing to collect data with this index could then become more aware of the differences between men and women in order, if necessary, to rethink their actions with a view to reducing certain gender-related inequalities.
In the area of time allocation, men and women from the same household describe a 24-hour day with their respective activities. This is one way of understanding how the workload is distributed.
In concrete terms, this internship began in Belgium, in February and March 2023, for about three days a week. I worked one day at Eclosio’s office in Gembloux, one day at ULB-Coopération’s office in Brussels and one day remote working. This first major part of my internship in Belgium enabled me, in addition to doing thematic research on gender and the A-WEAI index, to take part in meetings and find out about the organisational context of these NGOs.
I spent five weeks in Senegal for the second major part of my placement. Then, I designed from A to Z the “gender and A-WEAI” training programme. Then, I ran it.
Thereafter, in April and May, I spent five weeks in Senegal for the second major part of my placement. During this time, I had the opportunity to meet the local teams, mainly at Eclosio’s office in the town of Thiès. There, I designed from start to finish and ran the “gender and A-WEAI index” training programme. The training lasted four days, the first on gender and the other three on the A-WEAI index. There were around twenty participants, my supervisor and myself. We spent this time together sharing our knowledge and experience. We role-played, we debated, we went out into the field, we laughed, we shared, we tested, and we questioned each other.
So, I think this internship experience has given me a lot, both personally and professionally. Firstly, from a personal point of view, because it reinforced my idea of becoming an adult educator. Moreover, I had the chance to meet a lot of interesting and caring people.
This internship gave me a better idea of what it’s like to be an adult trainer, which can sometimes be a long way from what it is taught at the university, where the audience is one of the main places in which we learn.
Finally, I was touched by Senegalese culture, by the sense of welcome, by a more collective vision of living together – which we may be lacking, in my opinion. Secondly, from a professional point of view, because this placement enabled me to put into practice some of the theory, I had learnt during my master’s courses. It also gave me a better idea of what it’s like to work as an adult educator, which can sometimes be a long way from university studies, where the audience is one of the main places where we learn. Lastly, I’ve also been able to discover the cooperation sector. I find it rich because it’s at the crossroads of different disciplines and fields.
To conclude, I’m proud to have been able to propose this training scheme and to have, I think, humbly contributed to the use of this index within these NGOs. I’d like to thank all the people I met, both in Senegal and in Belgium, who helped me turn this training course into a wonderful experience. I’ll have very fond memories of you and the time we spent together.