Project participants Norma Martínez, Juana Confesora Díaz, Teresa Vásquez, and Dunia Martínez, who tend to honey producing bees,pose together near their beehives in the municipality of Candelaria

Chapter 3: Strengthening Women’s Leadership

Project participants Norma Martínez, Juana Confesora Díaz, Teresa Vásquez, and Dunia Martínez, who tend to honey producing bees, pose together near their beehives in the municipality of Candelaria


  • To develop the knowledge and skills capacity of women across a range of leadership and policy advocacy competencies


Around the world, progress in increasing women’s participation in key leadership positions has been slow. Women continue to have less access to decision-making bodies in public and private institutions. In public office, the proportion of women parliamentarians, while on the rise, was still only 22 percent in 2015 (O’Neil and Domingo 2015). Women still make up an incredibly small proportion of CEOs among Fortune 500 companies: 26 out of 2015 (ibid). Strong social norms, like the perception that men are better leaders than women, make progress difficult. Where progress has been achieved, it is the result of efforts to change institutions and norms around women’s participation (e.g., quotas) and to expand women’s capabilities.

In Honduras, political participation is one of the areas where the least amount of progress has been made in reducing gender inequalities. The Law for Equality of Opportunity for Women established a 30 percent quota for women in political positions, but the country has had little success in meeting this. The largest gains the country made were between 2006 and 2009 when 25 percent of officials elected to Congress were women (USAID 2013). Women’s groups have continued to advocate for more support to women’s political participation, succeeding in increasing the quota to 40 percent. More significant gains have been made at the national than at the municipal level. Between 2005 and 2009 the number of women members’ elected to municipal level position dropped from 25 percent to 19.5 percent.

The Women’s Leadership component of the GAPP project focused on addressing one of the constraints to increasing women’s participation in decision-making: lack of leadership skills and knowledge. The GAPP team’s partner, ASONOG, has deep experience in working with the RMMs and over the years has identified a range of topics around which it has developed training materials. Table 3 provides recommendations for the specific knowledge and skills that build women’s leadership. In GAPP, these were organized into three different programs described below.

Recommended Topics and Associated Competencies for Women’s Leadership Workshops

Gender 101
  • Become familiar with key concepts related to gender equality, engaging men, gender-based violence and other terms
Leadership and Self-esteem
  • Become familiar with the concepts of leadership and self-esteem
  • Be able to identify different leadership styles
  • Understand the skills and qualities of successful leadership
  • Be able to present ideas and convictions, even if others disagree
  • Be able to identify steps to develop leadership and self-esteem
National and International Legal
and Institutional Framework
  • Become familiar with the key national and international laws and policies related to gender equality
  • Understand local government policies that support participatory governance processes
Gender Issues in Agriculture
  • Be able to describe men’s and women’s roles in agriculture
  • Be able to identify gender-based constraints in agriculture
  • Be able to identify opportunities for reducing gender-based constraints in agriculture
Project Management
  • Understand the principles of project management
  • Be able to design a project proposal
Advocacy, Lobbying, and
  • Understand the concepts of advocacy, lobbying and negotiation
  • Understand the importance of advocacy to advance gender equality outcomes
  • Be able to develop an advocacy campaign
  • Become familiar with lobbying and negotiation techniques
Media and Communications
  • Understand the role of media in advocacy
  • Be able to use different media in advocacy campaigns
  • Become familiar with public speaking techniques


In the GAPP project, the thematic areas above were organized into three different kinds of workshops. For each activity, we provide the training materials and facilitator guides that were developed for the GAPP project but recognize that other resources are available. The resources here are provided in Spanish. The GAPP team recommends defining a capacity development strategy to guide the development of appropriate materials and suitable mechanisms for reaching women. The list below is a set of best practices and principles for developing such a capacity development strategy:

  • Develop training materials appropriate to your audience’s level of education.
  • Use adult and popular education techniques.
  • Design workshop programs that respect women’s time and mobility constraints.
  • When using TOT models, ensure the program provides opportunities for trainers to reflect upon successes, challenges, and areas of improvement.

Developing Women’s Leadership
(Formando Liderazgo de las Mujeres)

This program aimed to develop a cadre of women leaders with knowledge and leadership skills in the areas of gender equality, agriculture and food security. It used a training of trainers’ (TOT) model to expand the reach and scope of GAPP’s activities beyond the RMM leadership. It was conducted in Tambla, Candelaria and Erandique. To participate, women had to be active and committed members of the RMM, able to read and write and must commit to the time required to participate in the workshop and to facilitate trainings with other women in the RMM. Women were not selected but volunteered to participate after being introduced to the scope and time commitments.

This program was originally designed by ASONOG and adapted for the GAPP project. The modules adopt a popular education focus and are adapted so that women with low literacy levels are able to fully participate. The content of the training includes sessions that aim to build the women’s own capacity to lead and train other women, as well as thematic modules focused on building knowledge and understanding.

The training consists of five (5) modules. Modules 1 through 4 consist of two (2) sessions each, which range from one (1) to three (3) hours each. Module 5 is made up of three (3) sessions. In addition to participating in the initial workshops, women are expected to replicate the trainings, in pairs or threes, to other RMM within a week of receiving their own training. Women receive coaching by the GAPP team to address challenges or questions that emerge during the TOT.

Public Speaking and Advocacy Workshops
(Formación en Vocería)

(See Vocería manual)

Women in the RMM have little experience interacting with public officials, are often fearful of speaking in public and have little understanding of how to negotiate on behalf of themselves or others. These workshops aim to overcome those challenges by building their confidence to speak in public, facilitate large groups, and advocate on behalf of other women. Women in the RMM learn to write proposals, practice interview skills, and use a range of information and communication tools like cameras, microphones, email and social media. With these skills, it is hoped that they are able to advocate for themselves or on behalf of others around important issues affecting their communities such as rising unemployment, health needs, gender equality and gender-based violence.

Like the leadership workshops, these are open to active and committed members of the RMM. Women must be able to dedicate the necessary time to attend all the workshop modules. While women who are unable to read and write are not excluded from this workshop, some components of the modules do require functional literacy. One, for example, introduces women to email and how-to information and communication technologies as a policy advocacy tool. Women with low literacy levels, but who demonstrate strong oratory skills, are eligible to participate in the workshops. To select the participants, ASONOG convenes the RMMs to explain the purpose of the training and its requirements. The women, as a group, then identify the candidates who should participate. This activity was implemented only with members of the RMM in Mancomunidad SOL from Valladolid, Guarita, San Juan Guarita, and Tambla.

The workshop consists of three sessions delivered over a period of 15 days or a month depending on the schedule of the women involved (Box 6 Public Speaking and Advocacy Modules). The content is designed to enhance women’s understanding of lobbying and negotiation techniques to help them advocate for access to resources with local governments and other actors. Participants also learn to develop proposals, conduct interviews, and learn to use different kinds of communication tools. The materials were adapted from work conducted by Oxfam and ASONOG with the RMM of Mancomunidad CAFEG under a different project.

School for Political Engagement
(Escuela de Incidencia Política)

The most intense of the capacity building activities sponsored by GAPP, the School for Political Engagement, equips participants with the knowledge and skills necessary to become active participants in civil society and engage in policy making and reform. The program runs over a six (6) to nine (9) month period and targets women in the RMM as well as representatives from the EG, the management committee of the municipality. Eligible participants must be able to read and write, have basic computer skills and have demonstrated leadership in their respective organizations. They must also have the time available to participate in the program. The program includes six 3-day modules (Box 7). On average, a month (or month and a half) is dedicated to each module. The program covers a range of topics including power, political processes of change, civic engagement, policy development, policy analysis, methodological tools for policy planning and implementation, and civic oversight. Participants receive a certificate upon completion.

One of the challenges with this program is in reaching a critical mass. ASONOG also identified the need to improve the manuals so they are more accessible, for example with simpler language.

Lessons Learned

  • Workshops and training programs need to be designed to reach a critical mass of women. Among the different modalities used for the capacity building programs, the TOT program was the most appropriate for working across the RMM. It allowed for the project to invest heavily in a limited number of women, but with the ability to reach a much larger number of women through their training in their communities. Furthermore, building the facilitation skills of the trainers is one way of increasing the sustainability of the GAPP project’s investment.The trainers are left with the materials and the skills to continue their work once the project is done. While the TOT worked well, the limited reach of the other capacity building programs employed by the GAPP project was a drawback. While the RMMs that participated in the GAPP project represented more than 2,500 women, the number of women who were directly involved in the EIP and Vocería workshops were 12 and 13, respectively.
  • Building advocacy skills among a critical mass of women is crucial. The GAPP team underestimated the importance of developing a critical mass of women with these skills. In part, this was because the existing course was time-intensive, which limited the number of women who were both eligible for the program. Cost considerations also limited the project’s ability to replicate the training across all of the targeted areas. Developing the skills of all the women in the RMM would have allowed these skills to be viewed less as individual competencies. Instead the emphasis would have been placed on the collective aspects of advocacy and the power that comes from working with other women.
  • Workshops and training programs need to be sensitive to women’s lack of time. The range of themes the GAPP team recommends to develop women’s leadership requires a significant investment of time, which women often lack. The design of the GAPP women’s leadership activities was not suitable for many women, particularly the EIP and Vocería modules, because of the time requirements. Developing an appropriate training program that considers women’s time burdens is necessary for all programs.