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Duniya Mike

Duniya Mike, is 25 years and lives in Chindungwa village in the Salima District. She has three children, one boy and two girls aged between six months and seven years. She married her husband Mike in 2007. Duniya describes that period as one of hardest moments in her life: “He was hitting me, and when he had money he spent that money on other ladies. During my first pregnancy, I told him we should go to the hospital together for a HIV test but he refused and was very angry with me.”

In 2011, MIAA (Malawi Interfaith Aids Association) with Trócaire support, implemented a program called “Tiyeni Tisinthe, Together Let’s Change”, in Salima. The programe aims to reduce women’s vulnerability to HIV infection through gender transformative interventions and the elimination and modification of harmful cultural and religious practices. Mike was approached in 2012 to participate in training on gender and HIV. Within a few months of his attendance, Duniya began to notice real changes. “When he came from the training, he shared with me what he had learnt there. He doesn’t hit me anymore, he is a different man. Before, he would spend all the money with other girls but now he brings the money home and we sit together to make a proper budget.

“Nowadays, I am a happy woman. He helps me at home because with 3 children is not easy. I feel he is the man I fall in love. I have him back, thanks to MIAA.”

  •  This case study was prepared as part of the Gallery Exhibition to commemorate the visit of the President of the Republic of Ireland, His Excellency Michael D Higgins to Malawi in November 2014, and later to coincide with the launch of the 16 Days of Activism against GBV on November the 25th, 2014.
  • Pictures taken by: Chipiliro Khonje.
  Duniya M’bwana from Nysanguzu village, in the Salima district.

Duniya M’bwana

Duniya M’bwana lives in Nysanguzu village, in the Salima district. She is unsure of her age, her mother died on the same day she was born. She is married with 5 children and one grandchild. Duniya is a subsistence farmer. She married in 1998 but her husband never cared or supported her. She struggled financially to provide food for her children.

Duniya tells us that her relationship with her husband was difficult, “we worked together in the fields, but the only noise was the birds singing and the sound of our hoes tilling the earth. He would come home, and eat his own food whilst I ate with my children in another room. We were together but living separate lives.”

Duniya’s husband twice left his family for South Africa to have a better life, and earn money, both times he returned with no money, or gifts for his children. She was very disappointed but could not speak out as she was afraid of him.

In 2012 Duniya’s husband participated in MIAA and Trócaire Tiyeni Tisinthe project which offered training on Gender and HIV. As a result Duniya says he “learned to be a husband and father, he has apologized for treating me badly, he talks to me and shares his feelings. In turn I do the same. Now, my children are happy because they see their parents happy. Now, he takes care of me and our children. I feel I have someone. I know I am not alone in the world.”

  •  This case study was prepared as part of the Gallery Exhibition to commemorate the visit of the President of the Republic of Ireland, His Excellency Michael D Higgins to Malawi in November 2014, and later to coincide with the launch of the 16 Days of Activism against GBV on November the 25th, 2014.
  • Pictures taken by: Chipiliro Khonje.
  “Tosha and infant, Nyarugusu Refugee Camp, Tanzania” Photo by World Vision Ireland

Learning Brief 9 – The Health & Social Consequences of GBV

Violence against women and girls has important health and social consequences for survivors themselves as well as for their families and communities. At the very least, it can have serious impacts on the everyday lives of women and girls. GBV hinders their ability to earn a living, access education, and take part in social and political life. It perpetuates poverty and impedes development. This Learning Brief is based on the Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures event to mark International Women’s Day 2012. It outlines key insights, recommendations, and learning from World Health Organization (WHO) research on violence against women (VAW) and from female genital mutilation (FGM) policy and programming developments in Ireland. The event provided an important learning opportunity to recognise the work that has been done in relation to VAW and to reflect on future priorities in this field.

Key Research Findings on VAW: Consequences, Prevention, and Response

  • It is a worldwide human rights and health issue. Research suggests that nearly one out of every three women globally has experienced psychological, physical or sexual partner violence during their lifetime.
  • There are fatal and non-fatal outcomes and international research shows serious inter-generational health, social and economic consequences for individuals, families and communities.
  • It is rooted in inequality. Rigid gender roles create risk, and social and cultural gender norms reinforce the problem.
  • It can be prevented. Secondary education and increased socioeconomic status make a difference. Prevention initiatives must focus on changing harmful gender attitudes. Interventions must address individuals, couples and families, communities and the state. It is important not to focus solely on women and girls: men and boys must be involved.
  • Prevention and response must improve: VAW is a complex area and demands an integrated response from all the different sectors involved, including health, legal, education and economic support services.

Preventing VAW – Interventions work best when they:

  • Are designed to work at national, community, home and individual levels.
  • Empower women with finance, gender and relationships training and use school-based programmes to prevent dating violence.
  • Transform harmful gender norms at school and community level.
  • Engage men and boys in order to change attitudes and behaviour.
  • Bring about legal and policy change within a country.

Female Genital Mutilation: Programmes and Policy Progress in Ireland

Female genital mutilation means the partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. FGM is generally performed by an individual who has no medical training and does not use anesthetics or antiseptics. This can lead to serious physical and mental health consequences. The World Health Organisation estimates that globally 100 to 140 million girls and women alive today have undergone some form of FGM.

FGM has been documented in 28 African countries. It is a serious yet relatively new issue within the Irish context, as increasing numbers of people have emigrated from African countries to Ireland over the past decade. Many migrant women living in Ireland feel pressured into having an FGM ceremony performed on their daughters. After sustained work by campaigners, the Oireachtas passed the Criminal Justice (Female Genital Mutilation) Act in 2012. This Act specifically criminalizes performance of FGM on any woman or child residing in Ireland. It also criminalises the act of taking a woman or child out of Ireland with the intent of having FGM performed elsewhere. This was significant progress, yet a great deal of work remains to be done in terms of FGM policy and programming in Ireland.

Key learnings and recommendations from the event

Violence against women and girls is a global issue, with complex health and social consequences. Prevention and response programming work has improved and must continue to do so in the future. We should continue to consult survivors to ensure that responses are effective and do no harm. This work requires a multi-sectoral approach with promotion of gender equality at its core.

Given the serious health, intergenerational and socioeconomic costs of violence against women, strengthened work on prevention and response is crucial.

To be effective long-term, policy and programming work must approach VAW from a health and human rights perspective.

Download full learning brief

  “Children studying at Baptist Primary School , Rowalla, Tonkolli” Photo by Concern Worldwide

Learning Brief 5 – Addressing School Related GBV

School Related Gender Based Violence (SRGBV) refers to violence inflicted on children in, around, or on their way to or from school, due to stereotypes based on their sex or gendered identity. It is a fundamental violation of human rights, particularly those of women and children. It is considerable barrier to participation in education, gender equity and to the achievement of Education for All and the Millennium Development Goals (see Learning Brief 5). Although various international programmes incorporate prevention and response strategies, more work must be done on best practice and to ensure that all SRGBV initiatives have a solid theoretical grounding. This Learning Brief is based on research shared at a SRGBV Learning Day in 2012. It is to be read in connection with Learning Brief 2: Effective Responses for Gender Based Violence: Gender Based Violence in Schools.

What is School Related Gender Based Violence?

Millions of children around the world experience fear or violence every time they go to school. This includes verbal, physical, sexual, psychological, emotional or symbolic violence and includes both bullying and cyber-bullying. SRGBV can include individual actions as well as harmful traditional practices or expectations based on gender that negatively impact children’s rights to education. It can occur between students, between students and teachers, between teachers, and within the family or community. Preventing and responding to SRGBV is critical to ensuring access to quality education for all and to the protection of children and vulnerable adults.

What role do schools have in the development of gender norms?

Boys and girls often learn that they are different from one another at school. These gender roles control who gets to speak, where they play, how their physical space is shared, or who cleans the classroom, etc. Classrooms are often gendered spaces, with boys and girls separated. This constant stereotyping allows environments to develop where more acute SRGBV can occur and be tolerated. However, such attitudes are learned behaviour, which means they can be changed. The role of education is crucial here, as schools are not just sources of socialisation but can also promote tolerance, non-violence, and gender equality, and be agents for changing social norms. A number of promising international interventions and programmes have shown that schools can change to become safer places.

What key learning points emerged?

  1. Broader views are better: Organisations that demonstrate promising practice believe that because gender is a socially constructed concept, change is possible.
  2. Success requires partnership: A broad range of state and civil organisations, stakeholders and the community must be involved.
  3. Monitoring & Evaluation: Comprehensive M&E and local capacity building is essential to improve SRGBV measuring. Best practice includes multiple data sources.
  4. Micro, meso, macro: Approaches that address individual, school, community and legislative levels maximise impact and sustainability.
  5. Advocacy and Communications. Plan International’s report A Girl’s Right to Learn Without Fear: Working to End Gender-Based Violence at School (http://plancanada.ca/publications) is valuable reference for advocacy initiatives. Raising public awareness is important, though it must be handled sensitively, as children who speak out can be vulnerable unless support structures are in place.
  6. Staff training and commitment. Agency staff and partner organisations must have relevant training. It should highlight key areas such as reporting procedures; and how to equip school staff with tools to help prevent, and respond to, SRGBV. Having ‘champions’ who can speak out and raise issues in schools is important.
  7. Participation, Voice and Representation. Girls and boys must be recognised within the school structures as key participants in any intervention. Establishing student clubs or committees has been successful, as have child-led media, lobbying and awareness raising activities, as well as training peer-to-peer child educators.
  8. Get the resources right. School spaces, especially toilet areas, need to be safe. Reporting mechanisms and staff codes of conduct must be established and respected. A child should never end up in a situation where there is only one designated person to report to, as that person may be the abuser. Examine the curriculum for gender norming and attitudes.
  9. Men and boys are part of the solution. Boys are also negatively affected by gender expectations, and vulnerable to violence. Interventions should change attitudes and behaviours that increase the risk of men and boys perpetuating SRGBV, and create partners in combating violence against girls and young women.

There are nine key learning points of huge benefit to organisations in the appropriate and successful planning, design and implementation of their SRGBV programmes.

Good practice is based on a solid theoretical grounding of gender and GBV. Though a lot of research has been done, more is required before we can arrive at the definitive framework for best practice.

Download full learning brief