The Grandmother Project Programs
Grandmother Project (GMP) builds on the knowledge and experience of grandmothers and elders. In all non-western societies elders are respected for their experience and they support younger generations. Grandmothers play a special role teaching and caring for children and women. GMP views grandmothers as a cultural resource and involves them as key actors in all development programs.
Grandmother Project strengthens dialogue and relationships between generations. In most cultures there is a growing gap between the generations that affects family and community well-being. In all community programs GMP promotes dialogue between generations in order to strengthen intergenerational relationships and understanding.
Grandmother Project empowers community leaders and groups through use of participatory methods of communication and education In order for communities to effectively solve problems and promote the well-being of women and children, they need committed and skilled leaders. GMP uses participatory adult education methods to strengthen capacity of community leaders and groups to take collective action to solve priority problems.
Grandmother Project has a unique approach to working with communities to improve the lives of children and women in these areas:
- Maternal and child nutrition & health
- Reproductive health
- Early and forced marriage
- Teenage pregnancy
- Female genital mutilation
- Early childhood development
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
The Girls’ Holistic Development (GHD) project in Velingara, Senegal aimed to promote positive cultural traditions, discourage harmful practices (early marriage, teenage pregnancy, female genital mutilation/FGM), and strengthen communication between generations and between sexes. Project activities encouraged respect and communication within peer groups of women, men, adolescents, children, elders and teachers, and communities. Intergenerational (IG) community forums were key to community dialogue on issues related to education and protection of girls & boys.
The GHD methodology was developed by Grandmother Project (GMP) and implemented by World Vision from 2008-2011. In 2011, a study assessed changes in IG communication and social cohesion in project communities; 300 community members, young and old, were interviewed. Results included:
…now more mutual respect between generations, they spend more time together, more discussion and learning between them;
100% of adolescent girls interviewed said that now there is more communication between them and grandmothers;
After three years, all communities report that children are more interested in their cultural heritage and adults are more involved in transmitting it;
Increased communication -> decreased early marriage; increased solidarity and understanding within families and communities. Everyone now talks more openly about problems, like teen pregnancy and marriage of young girls…communities are more able to work together, take collective action;
Entire communities have taken direct action to discourage FGM, decrease teen pregnancies and discourage early marriage of girls.
Current needs include publishing results and methodology in English, French, local languages and later into Spanish, for sharing with other organizations and programs