Agents for Change: Working with couples and communities in Kenya to challenge power imbalances and prevent domestic violence against women and girls
Violence against Women and Girls is a rising issue, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Globally, it is estimated that one in three women have been subjected to intimate partner violence, non-partner sexual violence, or both at least once in their life (World Health Organization). In Kenya, the pandemic instigated a 92 percent rise in cases of violence against women and girls with sexual violence, femicide child abuse and exploitation being the common forms perpetrated by intimate partners and/or close family members or persons known to the survivors according to government data.
Violence against women and girls prevents their participation in our society and has significant human and economic costs for society. To improve this situation, we need to collectively collaborate to create an equitable society.
Our Womanity Award Program aims to target and respond to this issue. We catalyse partnerships between organisations in different countries in the Global South and support them to adapt and scale demonstrated innovative models of prevention of violence against women and girls. The Award provides funding, institutional strengthening, and access to networks that supports the project’s impact.
This year, the Womanity Award is looking for partners that want to work together to adapt programs focused on prevention of domestic violence against women and girls. One of the pair of finalists is CARE, with their members based in Rwanda and in Kenya and the Centre for Rights Education and Awareness (CREAW) in Kenya.
They are planning to adapt and implement the Indashyikirwa (Agents for Change) a program developed by CARE Rwanda aimed at reducing intimate partner violence (IPV) and improving the wellbeing of survivors by shifting attitudes, behaviors, and norms that perpetuate IPV among couples and broader communities.
The Indashyikirwa focus is mainly on reducing intimate partner violence through:
(1) Working with couples to strengthen their knowledge and skills in order to address power imbalances and appreciating benefits of non-violent relationships,
(2) Utilizing the SASA! Approach to mobilize communities to action by diffusing new skills, attitudes and behaviors in order to shift harmful social norms,
(3) Creating safe spaces for women who report domestic violence cases and providing accompaniment to seek services,
(4) Training and engagement of opinion leaders and robust monitoring and evaluation.
The program uses the power framework so the couples can explore and understand the concepts of positive power (power within, power to, power with) and negative power (power over). This aims to transform the unequal power relations between men/boys and women/girls and different social categories, which are the underlying causes of gender-based violence and often worsen in conflict or crisis situations such as the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Additionally, it incorporates a curriculum to influence knowledge, attitudes, skills, and behaviors. The Couples’ Curriculum is an innovative and effective tool for preventing and reducing violence in the home: among couples and their children.
The program offers a wide variety of components, including engagement of community as change agents, economic empowerment, workshops, media campaigns, work with religious or community leaders, therapy, and counseling, supporting state actors (police) as well as skills-building such as communication, economic, cognitive, and self-defense.
The partners are planning to implement the program in Meru County: Imenti North Sub County and Ntima West Ward, Kenya, for a three-year project period. According 2014 data from the National Crime Research Centre in Kenya, Meru is among the top 3 counties leading in domestic conflicts at (66.3%) and psychological humiliation at (45.8%). The report further affirms the need to focus on addressing all forms of Gender-based Violence in all counties but with emphasis on counties that featured prominently Meru County is one of the leading counties.
“This partnership opportunity in Kenya is timely and in line with CARE good practices and learning on prevention of Gender-based Violence programming that calls for working with other stakeholders especially women’s rights organizations in co-creating approaches together with communities and Governments by influencing the adaptation and scale-up of models, leveraging the learning from innovative programs key in achieving impact at scale.” – Dr. Maureen Miruka, CARE Kenya Country Director
When first implanted in Rwanda, the program showed evidence of reduction of IPV. Some examples of the impact: the women who participated in the Couple’s Curriculum reported a 55% reduction in the odds of experiencing physical intimate partner violence. Additionally, the men who participated in the Couple’s Curriculum reported a 47% reduction in the odds of having perpetrated physical and/or sexual IPV.
”We are very excited about this partnership, that would adapt the couples’ prevention program (Indashyikirwa) in Kenya. This is timely, and goes a long way in supporting Kenya’s Generation Equality Forum commitments to prevent violence against women and girls. The prevention work cannot wait, it is time to prevent violence against women and girls”- Wangechi L. Wachira, CREAW Executive Director
CARE International is part of a global network of independent national organizations, including CARE members, candidates and affiliates, social enterprises, and thousands of community-based partner organizations working together across more than 100 countries to help communities in the developing world achieve lasting solutions to poverty.
Founded in 1968, CARE International in Kenya has implemented numerous development and humanitarian programs, targeting around 2 million people in Kenya per year. CARE places particular focus on working alongside women and girls as its impact group because, equipped with the proper resources, they have the power to lift whole families and entire communities out of poverty. It also engages men and boys as part of its target group through innovative Engaging Men and Boys (EMB) program approaches. Its goal is to ensure they develop a means of self-reliance and have a sustainable, high quality of life while accessing and using their rights with dignity.
To read more about CARE Rwanda, click here
To read more about CARE Kenya, click here
CREAW Kenya is a national feminist non -governmental organization whose vision is a just society where women and girls enjoy full rights and live in dignity. Over the last 22 years since inception, CREAW Kenya has been working to champion, expand and actualise women’s and girls’ rights and social justice.
CREAW Kenya uses bold, innovative, and holistic interventions for the realization of women’s rights. Over the years, their programs have focused on challenging practices that undermine equity, equality, and constitutionalism, promoting women’s decision-making participation and deepening the ideology.
CREAW believes deeply that sustainable transformation in the gender power structures is needed to achieve its vision of an equal society where women and girls, thrive. They pledge to build the Power, Voice and Agency of women and girls through ending all forms of violence against women and girls, eliminating economic and social-cultural discrimination as well as promoting effective participation of women and girls in leadership positions; and ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).
CREAW has been working with CARE International through Kenya since 2019, implementing the Women Voices and Leadership program.
To read more about CREAW, click here
To learn more about the Womanity Award and previous editions’ Awardees, visit https://womanity.org/womanity-award/