Huge strides made in GBV reduction through global partnership: A time to reflect and a look at a Rwandan success story

This week the Prevention+ global partnership, committed to addressing the root causes of GBV, came together in Kigali for their annual ‘taking stock’ meeting. It was an opportunity to critically assess how far we have collectively come, and how far we still must go to help create a world without GBV and where healthy, respectful and equal relationships are the norm.

From these discussions, one thing was very clear: huge strides have been made in all countries in which the programme is implemented. From Indonesia to Rwanda, and to Uganda to the MENA Region, the emergence of more gender-equal relationships and communities is evident. Both the context as the issues related to GBV are vastly different in each country, yet this meeting was an opportunity to learn from each other’s obstacles and successes along this, not so straightforward, way.

Parent Evening Dialogues

As part of this exchange, the impressive steps taken in Rwanda to reduce GBV in local communities was seen by the global partners that visited the project in the District of Karongi. The Rwanda Men’s Resource Centre (RWAMREC), the country partner driving the implementation, have used, among other techniques, community dialogue as a tool to address sensitive topics often underlining inequality and violence in relationships and families.

Every third Sunday of the month Parent Evening Dialogue (PED) sessions are held in 537 villages in the district, whereby men and women are invited to engage in discussions, which raise awareness and sensitises people to GBV and its harmful impact on families and communities. The dialogue often involves engaging families - specifically perpetrators of GBV - and includes demonstrations of the possibilities of behavioural change through participation in the monthly meetings. This is seen through PED Committee Members, who previously benefited from the dialogue, as former perpetrators or victims of violence themselves, and became trained to act as role models in promoting gender equality in their communities.

"Before, I was sometimes violent"

The village leader and PED Committee Member, Jean Paul Gasigwa, shared his experience of engagement in the dialogues sessions: “Although the government tries to fight GBV, the men have their own rules and can do as they please. Before the training, I thought taking care of kids was a wife’s responsibility, but after, I changed. I started providing food for the home and now I recognise the efforts my wife puts into the family work and I don’t wait for her to do it anymore. I now know that a husband and wife should live in harmony.’’

A PED Committee Member, Ntimugura Jean Bosco, discussed the impact the project has had on his life: ‘’Before the Prevention+ trainings, I didn’t really care about my wife and didn’t know anything about gender equality. Even when she was pregnant, I did not know how to care for her and, sometimes, I was violent.’’

Continuous change in families and communities

Emmanuele Nyiramanuelie, Representative of the National Women’s Council, Sector and PED Committee Member spoke of the success of the initiative in their village: ‘’These sessions have solved the problem of high school drop out due to conflicts with families, as 57 children went back to school after their families were harmonised. It also brought solutions to dealing with teenage pregnancy, as we can now engage those families with pregnant teens and convince them to accept those kids and allow them to go back to school. It addressed issues on malnutrition and stunted child growth and encouraged couples to have a legal marriage, so their children are registered to the parents legally. It also improved a culture of savings and thus increased family welfare.’”

Anesia Nyirarwimo, Chair of PED in Matsi village conveyed her thankfulness for the programme: ‘’I still have hope that there will be continuous change in families and communities and that tomorrow will be better than today.’’