GEM and a Road Trip in the Indian Heat

APC Women’s Programme Coordinator, Chat Garcia Ramilo combines a gender workshop with a road trip in the Indian summer and gets a hot dose of Indian culture.

Checking in from Manila after a long trip … two workshops in Dhaka and Delhi, one donors meeting and one adventurous road trip through "un-touristy" towns and villages. But of course we also went on shopping trips. I am sure that I and my travelling companions can write a lot of blogs on the Indian art of selling …. anything! —- including a tiny non-airconditioned car to four tourists in 40+ degree heat.

Last week, from April 24-27, we were in Delhi facilitating a Gender Evaluaton Methodology Workshop or GEM as we fondly call it. GEM is an evaluation tool that seeks to help organisations to integrate gender in their evaluations. The APC Women’s Networking Support Programme (APC WNSP)have conducted many GEM workshops since we started developing the tool in 2001. But this was our first workshop in South Asia and also the first where we used a newly revised GEM tool. For these reasons, my co-facilitators from APC WNSP, Cheekay, Lenka and I, were both excited and a little nervous about the way the workshop would go.

As it turned out the 16 women and 3 men who participated in the workshop brought vibrancy in the discussions through their work with rural women. Organisations such as the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA)in Ahmedabad, to the Karakoram Area Development Organization (KADO)who work in mountain areas of Hunza in Pakistan and a people’s call center in Bangladesh (DNET). The IDRC program officers who attended said that we had it "pitched at a perfect level that works for everyone". What also made the difference is having the GEM tool for all the participants and for us facilitators. You can download a copy at the GEM website on

After the workshop, we went on a road trip to Rajahstan and experienced the state of the art in Indian driving which is about driving fast or driving faster and dodging as much oncoming traffic as possible. It felt like being in a computer racing game where the most dangerous stunts got the most points. And our daredevil driver was definitly gunning for bonus points. I felt like I was being driven by my 10 year old son. We drove from Agra to Udaipur through the night and day and met gazillion trucks along the way, saw village life from the car, stopped in truckers pitstops and had the best tea in India. We also went to Johdpur and experienced desertlike heat and saw the most amazing fort and palace.

India certainly has everything to offer. Travelling through hundresds of kilometers on land, I also noticed dotted along main towns in the countryside the signs "PCO-STD-ISD" while along the villages, women in the brightest saris confounding all rules of color combinations, still continue their long trek carrying water and firewood. A picture postcard of the gender digital divide. Looks like GEM has a place in this vast country. And so do road trips.