Girl Guides in Rwanda encourage girls, women and men to speak out against violence
4 November 2011
The Rwanda Girl Guides Association has joined the WAGGGS “Stop the violence. Speak out for girls’ rights” campaign – an issue the Association has been working on for eight years.
In 2003 the Association began what has become a high-profile, successful project to end violence against women and girls. The aim of this project was to raise awareness about violence against women and to sensitize women to speak up for their rights. It also aims to transform certain cultural attitudes, which Pascaline Umulisa, Communications Commissioner of the Association, says is a “significant barrier to ending violence against women and girls”.
“At that time [in 2003] many girls and women experienced domestic violence but did not consider it to be violence because it was perpetrated by their husbands,” says Pascaline, “The main activities of our campaign involved working in rural areas, teaching women’s rights to communities, what violence is and helping communities understand all types of violence.”
Other activities empowered girls and women to speak up and contact the police if they encountered violence. The Association also supported women to speak to the media so that other women would feel encouraged to speak out for their rights.
Pascaline says the involvement of men in their campaign was key. “We wanted to engage men in the war against violence, and these debates really impact on men’s lives too,” she says. The Association invites couples to take part in discussions around violence, listen to each other’s thoughts and together take action for positive change.
One of the biggest successes of the Association’s work is that a men’s advocacy association has been set up in the Ngororero District, western Rwanda, and now has over 100 male activists advocating on the topic of ending violence against women and girls.
More than 320 young women and adults have been trained through the project, and almost all of them have reported that their lives have been changed. “We have selected these outstanding women to help others to be aware of their rights in their villages,” says Pascaline
The Association is now engaging with WAGGGS’ ‘Stop the violence’ campaign, and has started running shows on national TV and radio every Thursday about the campaign.
Pascaline says, “We focus on messages targeting men to join us in ending violence against women. In order to eradicate violence against women once and for all, we must join forces with everyone.”
|This article was taken from the September issue of WAGGGS' quarterly magazine, Our World, which is themed on the “Stop the violence. Speak out for girls’ rights” campaign. Find out how you can subscribe to Our World.|
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