SLO project debuts online courses on gender and social inclusion in El Salvador

IBI experts implementing the Strengthening Local Organizations project (SLO) have remained busy throughout the pandemic, but none more so than the project’s gender and social inclusion specialist, Blanca Aragon. Among other tasks, Ms. Aragon has spent the past few months putting together two gender and social inclusion (GESI) online courses—an introductory course with unlimited enrollment and an advanced course open only to a select group of institutional leaders—for the benefit of 10 SLO-supported CSOs. The two courses went live simultaneously in June 2020.

The courses follow USAID’s GESI conceptual framework, marrying materials on gender equity with content on social inclusion more generally. Sub-topics include gender-based violence; sexual diversity; discrimination in language; political strategies for social inclusion; and many more. Though Spanish by birth, Ms. Aragon has lived in El Salvador for 20 years, advising numerous multi-lateral and public sector institutions on matters of gender and inclusion. This local experience enabled her to give both courses ample local “flavor”—incorporating, for example, Salvadoran parlance as well as citing Salvadoran law where appropriate.

A few weeks after opening enrollment, SLO has seen members of each beneficiary CSO, as well as USAID/El Salvador officials, sign up, progress, and, in some cases, finish coursework and receive their diplomas. FUNPRES Administrative and Financial Director Ana María Lemus, who completed the introductory course, emailed SLO praising the course as “well-designed” and “practical,” while saying also that it “prompted [her] to better understand and reflect on concepts that are central to daily life.”

These distance learning courses represent one more way that IBI has successfully adapted to life in the COVID era. However, and perhaps more importantly, they also demonstrate IBI’s unwavering commitment to integrate issues of gender into its projects, no matter how challenging the environment.

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