A seven day workshop focusing on participatory methods for community development was held in Natal, South Africa. The workshop used the SARAR approach, which 'aims to support the growth of self-esteem by facilitating 'learning events' which encourage people to develop their creative and analytic capacity to identify and solve problems'. Using methods similar to PRA, such as community mapping, the facilitators tried to address issues around gender conflict. This account analyses how the workshop went wrong : the relationship between facilitators (white women) and the largely male black participants broke down completely due to underlying racial and gender tensions, and also the 'inflexibility' of the programme. Intensely personal reflections by the facilitators on their roles reveal the 'many layers of gender dynamics' and the implicit power issues in outsiders trying to initiate such discussions through 'top-down and academic methods'. Finally, the facilitators analyze how they could have learned to welcome the knowledge brought by the 'disturbers' (the men who 'resisted' the workshop) and the 'shadow' side of creativity and participation.
These reflections on a workshop aimed to raise gender awareness might interest gender trainers and fieldworkers.
IDS Rm 264