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WOMEN RISE Writing Workshop: Preparation for ASNA 2023 Conference 

A writing retreat for the Women RISE fieldwork researchers was convened in Cintsa West, Eastern Cape, South Africa, by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) with its partners in a “Women RISE" project sponsored by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada: McGill University in Canada; Walter Sisulu University (WSU) in the Eastern Cape; and the Eastern Cape Socio-Economic Consultative Council (ECSECC). The purpose of the writing retreat was to help the researchers prepare their academic papers for presentation at the ASNA conference in September 2023.

Attended by the project’s researchers, Zipho Xhego, Anelitha Tukela, Bonelwa Nogqaza, Zikhona Mtwa, Tandokazi Silosini, Nombulelo Shinta and Kamvalethu Miza, the writing retreated offered the research team a space to:

  • Present to each other their paper ideas.

  • Assist each other with conceptualizing the ideas and arguments to make for their papers.

  • Share data and evidence from the different research sites that the researchers are located in to support the claims we each make in our papers.

  • Provide a conducive space for intensive writing of the papers away from the distraction of the field.

Download the Workshop 3 Full Report below:

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WOMEN RISE Workshop 2: Innovation and Amplified Possibility

The Women RISE (Research, Innovation, and Societal Empowerment) project recently held a workshop in Chintsa, Eastern Cape, focused on "Fieldwork Learnings and Ethnographic Imagination." The workshop aimed to foster the creation of "peoples science," a new approach that explores sociology and anthropology through everyday practices. Professor Leslie Bank emphasized the importance of imagination in social science, encouraging participants to reimagine the world through the lens of the mundane.

The workshop included fieldwork reports from eight Eastern Cape communities, addressing various issues related to women's lives and struggles. One key topic discussed was the impact of trauma on rural women after the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighting the disconnect between women's own experiences and the classifications used in biomedical and mental health contexts. The workshop also introduced Canadian interns from McGill University, led by Professor Kate Rice, who presented her new book on personhood, rights, and responsibilities in rural South Africa.

Several speakers provided valuable insights during the workshop. Dr. Tim Hart from the HSRC discussed policy and changing rural livelihoods, while Dr. Vuyokazi Sharpley from UKZN shared her research on uncovering hidden women's voices through community engagement and policy action. Ziyanda Xaso, the director of Jika Uluntu, a gender violence NGO, spoke about trauma and disruption in women's lives. Additionally, Mr. Ian Assam from the Eastern Cape Socio-economic Consultative Council (ECSECC) provided an overview of the current post-COVID policy landscape, and Zama Nkosi, a demographer from Walter Sisulu University, discussed the upcoming release of the 2022 census data.


The Women RISE workshop was a platform for knowledge sharing, innovative thinking, and exploring possibilities for a better world through understanding and addressing the challenges faced by women in the Eastern Cape.

Download the Workshop 2 Full Report below:

Embracing a methodology of participant observation, the IDRC-HSRC-McGill Women RISE Project was launched at Crawford Cabins in Chintsa, Eastern Cape. The project's objective is twofold: to enhance capacity in rural communities for post-pandemic recovery and reconstruction and to train a new generation of emerging women scholars from various South African universities.

To achieve these goals, senior graduate women from UCT, Rhodes, WSU, and NMMU have been appointed as HSRC researchers for a 20-month period. They will engage in "time on task" fieldwork research while pursuing their own PhD studies at their respective universities. The project, centered around developing "peoples' science" for post-pandemic recovery, adopts a participant observation fieldwork methodology.

The women RISE researchers will spend 10 months in the field, immersing themselves in the rural context and collecting over 200 in-depth life histories. This approach aims to provide a holistic understanding of the intersectional nature of women's precarity and their capacity for recovery in rural settings. The first training workshop focused on critical fieldwork practice, exploring the potential of auto-ethnography to uncover deeper insights in the field. Ethical considerations and the experiences of senior black, female ethnographers, including Dr. Kholekile Ngqila from WSU, were also discussed.

WOMEN RISE Workshop 1: Researchers embrace participant observation: 

Funded by IDRC, the project is a collaboration between the Human Sciences Research Council, McGill University, Walter Sisulu University, and the Eastern Cape Socio-economic Consultative Council (ECSECC). Professor Leslie Bank from IED serves as the project leader at HSRC, alongside co-principal investigators Kathleen Rice (McGill), Dr. Nelly Sharpley (WSU) and Ian Assam from ECSECC. Through this collaborative effort, the Women RISE Project aims to contribute to the empowerment of rural communities and the advancement of women scholars in South Africa.

Download the Workshop 1 Full Report below:

Ukuvula Isango Leadership Team attends IDRC Women RISE Inception Workshop in Nairobi, Kenya

We are delighted to share that the Inclusive Economic Development (IED) project team, led by Professor Leslie Bank, recently attended the IDRC Women RISE Inception Workshop in Nairobi, Kenya. The workshop, held from January 24th to January 26th, brought together research teams and leaders from around the world to discuss gender-transformative research and policies in a post-Covid era. The Women RISE project, aimed at "building back better for women" in the wake of the pandemic, emphasized post-pandemic recovery and reconstruction strategies. The workshop witnessed the participation of two South African teams, one from the HSRC and the other from the MRC, focusing on rural communities in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu Natal. Additionally, teams from East Africa, West Africa, Latin America, and South-East Asia joined the event.

The HSRC project, titled "Ukuvula Isango: Women's Empowerment and Post-Pandemic Reconstruction in Rural South Africa," collaborates with McGill University, Canada. The project employs a two-phase approach, utilizing "peoples science" action to analyze women's lives before and during the pandemic, identify trends impacting their livelihoods and health, and develop strategies for prevention and rebuilding. The project's ultimate goal is to create locally sustainable solutions, driven by women and other stakeholders, to improve public health and rural livelihood strategies.

The workshop fostered a positive and collaborative spirit among the research teams, recognizing the program's potential to drive change within their countries and contribute to global policy responses. Projects across Africa focused on rural livelihood and healthcare challenges, while those in Asia and Latin America addressed urban communities and diverse topics.Notab ly, the HSRC project has created eight opportunities for black women to pursue Masters' or PhD research at South African universities, demonstrating its commitment to fostering educational and professional growth. We are excited about the progress made at the workshop and look forward to further enriching the global debate on post-Covid recovery and reconstruction, benefiting the global South. Stay tuned for more updates on our transformative research and policy initiatives.

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