Growing champions, women and men, to eliminate all violence
In line with the UN’s Millenium Development Goal 3, this project is of long term importance. However the aim of the project initially is to work with NGOs in the Great Lakes Region of Africa, to warm the ingredients that can support a new vision about what it means to be a man or woman, to crystallise a vision of a partnership between the genders: one that honours the strength, richness and nobility that is inherent to both.
There is no place for gender violence within such an attitude. The challenge therefore is not one of assaulting communities with facts and figures about the benefits of equality and better gender relations; it lies in helping both men and women to evolve their perceptions to a point where they can cherish both genders and realise that understanding and partnership is more effective than continuing ignorance and brutality in the long term.
The project therefore provides a package of education and training (for both genders) that:
- encourages a value and respect for each other,
- Tackles the deeply rooted community obstacles which evidence has shown consistently appear wherever one finds gender abuse, gender inequality and armed conflict.
Our strategy – which involves (i) seeking remedy as a first principle instead of diluting efforts by apportioning blame (ii) preparing both men and women on the issues, (iii) demonstrating how the community can secure positive change at no cost and (iv) including men in the remedy – has proved to be much more effective than common wisdom might suggest.
Results are tangible: In 2006, NGOs in Kisii in Western Kenya, with Feminenza’s assistance, conducted a programme in certain villages to cause men to review all of the tasks undertaken within the daily activities of their villages, and to identify (for each task) whether it was men or women who had been required historically to undertake those tasks. At the end of the process the men realised that the women carried a much greater burden; they responded by agreeing to handle more of the farming burden, and taking seriously for the first time the need for a well in the village, to ease the load of the women. There was a direct reduction in rape, violence in the home, alcohol abuse and juvenile delinquency following these sessions.
It can be done.