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A New
Wave
of Gender
Equality
Champions

2020-2021

ANNUAL REPORT

BY THE
NUMBERS

Thanks to committed partners, volunteers and supporters like you, we are making a difference around the world. In the period of April 2020 to March 2021, during a global pandemic, we came together to accomplish the following:

Worked in
9 countries in
Sub-Saharan
Africa,
and Canada

SUPPORTED AND
EMPOWERED
43 local
partners

Reached
114,061 direct
and indirect
beneficiaries
(78,711 women;
35,350 men)

Raised

$$934,000

this fiscal year
Mobilized and engaged

133,883

people interested
in international
development issues

*Some video footage was captured before COVID-19 and new health and safety restrictions were in place.

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The New Wave of Volunteer Cooperation Showing Up in the Most Critical Time

With international borders closing and stay-at-home orders, one might assume volunteer cooperation to be on pause due to COVID-19. But Canadian volunteers and cooperation agencies are resilient, perseverant and innovative.

What does international development look like in the face of a global pandemic? The answer lies in Canadian dual citizens or permanent residents of Canada who are already overseas and an improved remote volunteer program with renewed mandates. Take a look below at some resourceful and dedicated Crossroaders who are building capacity in every way possible.

BEING A GIRL IN A GIRLS’ EMPOWERMENT CLUB

*Some video footage was captured before COVID-19 and new health and safety restrictions were in place.

THE NEW FACES OF VOLUNTEER COOPERATION

THE URGENT WORK
CONTINUES

The work of Crossroads and our volunteers is even more crucial in the face of a global pandemic, where years of progress in gender equality and poverty reduction are threatening to come undone.

Most current volunteers are working as Program Support Advisors with local partner organizations. The first step of their mandate was to set up organizational diagnostics to determine the needs of partners, establish future volunteer mandates, create work plans, strategic documents and monitoring and evaluation policies.

The verdict from the Program Support Advisors is crystal clear across all countries: partners are in critical need of financial support, human resources, and administrative support to stay afloat.

“The organizational diagnostics have really helped us understand the impact of COVID-19. We had to pause a lot of programming, which was quite upsetting. It felt like taking two steps backwards,” declares Nirosha, Program Support Advisor in Eswatini. Swazi kids were out of school for a very long time, and only returned this April. For many partners, outreach programs depend on the schools and their platforms. Most of the volunteers and partners are not able to do field visits, and not everyone has access to a phone or stable Internet connection.

Nirosha underlines the critical need for funding and human resources to support partners: “They experienced COVID-19 outbreaks in their own offices, some lost family members, loved ones, colleagues…they were spread thin at the peak of the second wave.”

LESSONS LEARNED AND BIG HOPES FOR THE FUTURE

For Koffi Dodzi, Program Support Advisor in Togo, institutional strengthening needs to be prioritized as much as the promotion of gender equality and women’s rights. “Our partner organizations are suffering, as so are many NGOs. People are so dedicated, they care so much, but they need to strengthen their internal capacity.” Koffi believes that the strength of an organization depends on solid human resources to support the work of people on the field.

Volunteers are hopeful and truly believe in the work they do. Boubacar Kande, Program Support Advisor in Senegal, shares: “I would like to see my home country develop. I want to see our programs have a positive impact. I want NGOs and women to be autonomous, thus multiplying the capacity of other organizations. That is why I believe people get involved in development work.”

Reaching More
Survivors of
Violence Than
Ever Through
Online
Counselling

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, many countries, including Togo, were quick to declare a state of lockdown, closing non-essential services and encouraging working from home.

For some, a stay-at-home order is a minor inconvenience. For Togolese women, stay-at-home orders could endanger their lives. In fact, the pandemic, combined with economic adversity, food insecurity and a state of lockdown has further exposed women and girls to domestic and gender-based violence.

Crossroads and GF2D (Groupe réflexion et d’action femme démocratie et développement) have worked together on programs building women’s and youth’s leadership and supporting their rights since 2007. GF2D runs legal aid offices and provides support and counselling for survivors of violence. In addition to running multiple Centres d’écoute (listening centres), GF2D supports Girls’ Empowerment Clubs in Togo.

VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN IS NOT ON PAUSE

When the pandemic struck, access to sexual and reproductive health services declined, just as cases of domestic violence were increasing. Women were no longer able to visit the GF2D Centre d’écoute to obtain counselling. GF2D and Crossroads understood the urgent need to ensure this vital service could continue virtually.

In response to this critical situation, GF2D launched the project Together to protect women and young girls from gender-based violence amplified by COVID-19 in Togo.

AKOFA, the online counselling platform was named after the local word for “comfort” or “consolation” and was put in place to allow survivors of violence to benefit from legal advice and assistance, despite not being able to visit in-person. The program allows witnesses to denounce cases of violence and contains resources on gender-based violence and women’s rights. The platform protects the identity of survivors and witnesses, offers accessible counselling services, reduces transportation costs and covers more geographical ground than the physical listening centres.

Many of the online submissions reported instances of economic, physical and sexual violence. As a result, visitors on the platform have requested information on the organization, membership applications and even financial support. Over 900 people viewed the platform, and 112 cases were submitted and subsequently answered over the phone or online.

LOCKDOWNS CONFINE
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
SURVIVORS WITH THEIR
ABUSERS

The need to support survivors of violence has never been more crucial. To continue to provide essential services, six listening centres were equipped with PPE and 4,500 masks were distributed to the centres and surrounding communities.

GF2D, with financial support from Crossroads, also launched an awareness campaign through social media, radio shows, and on Whatsapp to promote the new counselling platform AKOFA, and share information on preventative measures against COVID-19.

LASTING CHANGE FOR
GENERATIONS TO COME

Key learnings from the project underlined the need to provide more financial support, as many families suffer through food insecurity.

INGRID ZANOU, CROSSROADER (TOGO 2021)

900 +

people visited
the AKOFA
online
counselling
platform

112

cases
of violence
reported

4,500

masks
distributed in
listening
centres and
surrounding
communities

12

radio
programs
hosted to
spread
awareness

IN-PERSON AND ONLINE
TRAININGS TO BUILD CAPACITY

When the pandemic hit, SWIFT moved quickly to adapt and meet the urgent needs of artisans and entrepreneurs and offered in-person trainings to small groups while respecting COVID-19 safety measures.

The in-person training was facilitated by qualified business development trainers and offered in siSwati, a local language understood by all groups to ensure full participation and accommodation.

They covered topics such as team leadership, sharing roles and responsibilities, business planning, marketing, branding, as well as developing strategic objectives and action plans.

The groups also got the opportunity to visit some established companies as part of their market access and best practice segment. Companies visited include Khokho design studio and Malandelas indigenous nursery.

SWIFT is also launching an online platform to replicate in-person trainings and reach more local business owners. The virtual training centre will teach participants about digital skills, entrepreneurship and business planning.

On the platform, SWIFT is creating training modules including marketing, financial training, analyzing trends and creating a business plan and strategy. The platform itself just recently launched with participants from Eswatini, Lesotho and Botswana taking part in an online business course.

ARTISANS ARE RE-TOOLING AND GIVING BACK TO WOMEN ON THE FRONT LINES

Crossroads recently provided additional funding to SWIFT and its community of artisans. The funds were used to purchase creations from the local artisans and members of the cooperative, to put money back into the economy and to create gift baskets with the local goods that were awarded to exceptional community members. “The gift baskets were awarded to ordinary women who are doing extraordinary things in the community. We are giving back to frontline workers, healthcare workers, mental health advocates and more,” shares Vuyile Nokukhankya, a Crossroads volunteer who grew up in Eswatini.

Vuyile is supporting SWIFT as a Communications, Advocacy and Marketing Advisor. Vuyile works on all their communication material, social media platforms, grant writing and creates graphics and videos.

Vuyile was born and raised in Eswatini and came to Canada in 2012. After studying Media and Communications and Journalism, she knew she wanted to use her newfound skills to support the country in which she grew up.

“I’ve been inspired by Julie and her passion, what she’s doing, helping women create businesses that are successful and empowering them,” shares Vuyile about SWIFT and its Executive Director. Vuyile got to meet many women with incredible stories who were recipients of the gift baskets funded by Crossroads including Tsabi, an artisan who recently suffered a stroke. Tsabi has been re-learning how to do everything herself, while attempting to continue running her business. SWIFT helped her through training, but also offered support and food supplies. Another woman, Nomcebo, is a go-getter living with a disability, who defied expectations and started her own sewing company, Nomcebo’s Design, ultimately winning an Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2017 for her skill, story and craftsmanship.

Overall, SWIFT hopes to reach 40 participants through the online training platform. So far, 33 women were reached through the in-person trainings, in partnership with other women cooperatives. Over 280 community members will also benefit from this additional business development.

Drop By Drop
Project: Building
Resilience in the
Face of Climate
Change

In Senegal, climate change is affecting women farmers who already suffer unequivocally from food insecurity.

The Programme de Coopération Climatique Internationale (PCCI) project (funded by the Ministère de l’Environnement du Québec) is helping women farmers build resilience against climate change and adapt to new ways of farming. The project equipped 11 market gardens, exclusively managed by women, with dewatering and drip irrigation systems powered by solar energy. It strengthened market gardening production and facilitated the diversification of agricultural production by introducing new drought-resistant crops with short production cycles. These activities contribute to sustainable development and the protection of the environment.

*Some video footage was captured before COVID-19 and new health and safety restrictions were in place.

Empowering
Togolese
Women as
Gender Equality
Champions
in Their
Communities

In the Prefecture of Zio, Togo, Crossroads is working with long-time partner organization La Colombe on an innovative project involving the wives of chiefs. For a very long time, these wives have held honorary power, but no real say in the defence of the rights of women and girls. The Projet Fiosron, meaning “wives of village chiefs”, is a ground-breaking approach to strengthen the leadership of these women and increase their knowledge of women’s rights. The project, funded through Crossroads’ Karen Takacs Leadership Fund, implemented workshops on advocacy and training in 10 chief-led villages.

“Powerful men don’t want their powers to change. They want to keep that power. We make it clear that we do not want to take that away, but we want to involve women in leadership, given their capacities and experiences. We want to empower and equip them to defend the rights of women and girls,” shares Bilakani Sabi, Program Support Advisor in Togo.

So far, the project has generated incredibly positive social change. The chief wives are committed to advocating and defending the rights of women and girls in their communities and have begun engaging and educating their husbands in the process.

Our
Partners

It is only through mutual and respectful cooperation that we can champion gender equality. With local partners, we collaborate to bridge local and international, public and private sector organizations to create sustainable change.

Planned Giving –
One World Legacy Circle Members

A gift in your Will is one of the simplest and most powerful ways to support our work. Please consider making a legacy gift to Crossroads: cintl.org/legacy.

With gratitude, we are pleased to recognize those who have recently confirmed a gift in their Will to Crossroads International. These supporters are helping to reduce poverty and empower women and girls for generations to come.

  • Anonymous (3)
  • Francine Baril
  • Norine Baron
  • Darlene Bessey & Ken Pontikes & Zoë Pontikes
  • Angèle Bouffard
  • Charles Brown
  • Joan Fair
  • Patsy George
  • Janek Jagiellowicz & Dorothy McCabe
  • MaryAnn Jansen
  • Richard Lane
  • Daphne Loukidelis
  • Danae Mack
  • Jo-Ann Mackie
  • Donna McGee
  • Delphine Melanson
  • Chantal Ouellet
  • Marli Ramsey
  • Agnès van’t Bosch

REALIZED

  • Anonymous (2)
  • The Estate of Phyllis Jane Bloch
  • The Estate of Alan and Corinne Lane
  • The Estate of Randy A. Pepper

Our
Volunteers

Volunteers are the heart of Crossroads. They work with local partners to pilot new approaches and increase their capacity and their impact. In a most difficult year, volunteers helped create digital resources on sexual and reproductive health services for teens, empowered women to assert their rights, and supported partners to adapt their services online.

North-South Crossroaders

Nana Ama Pabi, Ghana

Magalie Menard, Tanzania

Moustapha Dembele, Cote d'Ivoire

Boubacar Kande, Senegal

Bilakani Sabi, Togo

Emily Joan Mary Strong, Uganda

Nirosha Sheryl Sarugaser, eSwatini

Kaluba Chilaisha, Zambia

Charles Ragomezingueba Ouedraogo, Burkina Faso

Vuyile Nokukhanya Motsa, eSwatini

Ayélé Sylvie Marie-Josée D'ALMEIDA, Togo

Koffi Elemawussi Dodzi, Togo

Vanessa Alexandra St-Jean, Senegal

Aida Gaëlle Ba, Senegal

Ingrid Flora Zanou, Togo

Sierra Nallo, Ghana

Remote Volunteers

Odette Kamanzi Gahongayire, Senegal

Denise Tremblay, Senegal

Yuan Isabelle Michaud, Senegal

(Mahsa) Mohaddeseh Abbas Zadeh, Senegal

Elsie Amoako, Ghana

Madison F Octavia MacLean, Tanzanie

Mahfuja Sharmin, eSwatini

Ndeye Fatou NGOM, Senegal

Fidele Pingdewinde Ramde, Senegal

Board

Patricia Erb, Director

Joan Fair, Director

Christine Herr, Chair, Nominating Committee

Divya Khurana, Director

Fabien Lanteri-Massa, Director

Lisa Lifshitz, Co-Chair, Risk Committee

Sheri Martinello, Co-Chair, Risk Committee

Julie Mills, Board Treasurer, Chair, Finance Committee

Julianne Osberg, Chair, Governance Committee

Simone Philogène, Board Chair; Chair, Executive Committee

Janet Riehm, Director

Gisèle Yasmeen, Director

Félix Zogning, Director

Honorary
Patrons

Lyse Doucet

Ann McCain Evans

Lawrence Hill

The Hon. Audrey Mclaughlin

The Hon. Donald H. Oliver

Dr. Peter Paris

J. Robert S. Prichard

Betty Plewes

Executive Director

Heather Shapter

Writer

Francette Maquito

National Director, External Relations

Christine Campbell

Design

Co-Effect Creative