Rwanda | CARE International
This programme led by CARE International will implement a package of prevention interventions which aim to change attitudes, behaviours and social norms around gender inequality and GBV in communities across seven districts in Rwanda. The What Works Global Programme will conduct an impact evaluation to collect evidence on the effectiveness of these interventions on addressing risk factors for GBV as well as the prevalence of GBV; and operations research which will provide insights into how interventions are working and how the project can be implemented in successful ways that provide value for money.
This paper explores the relationship between changes in individual beliefs and behaviours, couple relationship dynamics and gender norms – and how interventions can influence these. It draws on longitudinal qualitative research with heterosexual couples who participated in the Indashyikirwa programme in Rwanda. The couples followed a curriculum designed to improve relationship skills and reduce the gender-inequitable beliefs, behaviours and norms that underpin intimate partner violence. Qualitative findings show that the programme resulted in moderate, but significant, positive ‘shifts’ in individual beliefs and behaviours, couple relationship dynamics and levels of inequality - increasing men’s engagement in domestic duties, women’s participation in household decision making, and women’s access to economic resources. They also suggest which parts of the couples’ curriculum were most effective in catalysing these changes. However, the data also show that these ‘shifts’ occurred without fully transforming deeply-entrenched beliefs and norms around gender roles and male authority over economic resources. The paper suggests that the persistence of these beliefs and norms constrained the extent of changes among couples – and could potentially constrain their longevity and act as an obstacle to longer-term, larger-scale changes in gender inequalities and violence.
Violence against women and girls (VAWG) is driven in part by gender attitudes, norms on gender inequality and the acceptability of violence, which are socially reproduced and shared. Women’s rights organizations across the global south have dedicated themselves to challenging these. Early evaluations of work they have championed has shown that sufficiently equipped community volunteers, guided in a long-term structured programme, can enable widespread diffusion of new ideas on gender and VAWG and ultimately achieve changes in harmful attitudes and norms across communities.
DFID’s What Works to Prevent Violence against Women and Girls Global Programme (What Works) has generated new evidence on the effect of these interventions in a range of settings – from rural areas and small towns of the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ghana, Rwanda, Nepal, to urban informal settlements in South Africa. Rigorous evaluations have shown the potential for preventing VAWG through multi-year, intensive change interventions with welltrained and supported community action teams, that purposefully engage both women and men to effect change.
An innovative programme to reduce partner violence in rural Rwanda
Intimate partner violence (IPV), which includes physical and sexual violence, economic abuse and emotional aggression within intimate relationships, is the most common form of violence against women globally. IPV can lead to a wide range of negative health consequences including depression, suicide risk, post-traumatic stress disorder, drug and alcohol abuse, serious injuries, and death . IPV can also constrain women’s capacity to find employment, lead to higher levels of absenteeism and job turnover, lower earning capacity, and more limited occupational mobility . The Indashyikirwa programme in Rwanda sought to reduce experience of IPV among women and perpetration among men, and shift beliefs and social norms that drive IPV among couples and in communities. The programme also aimed to foster more equitable, non-violent relationships, and to ensure more supportive responses to survivors of IPV.
Stern, E., & Mirembe, J. (2017). Intersectionalities of formality of marital status and women’s risk and protective factors for intimate partner violence in Rwanda. Agenda, 31(1), 116-127.
This set of skills-building modules is designed to prepare Indashyikirwa community activists (CAs) to conduct community-based activist activities. Building off the foundation of learning from the Indashyikirwa Couples’ Curriculum, the sessions focus on specific skills that are necessary to do effective activism at the community level. There are 16 numbered topics, sequenced to foster progressive learning.
The Couples’ Curriculum is a set of interactive trainings and take-home exercises designed to help foster a process of change to reduce gender-based violence amongst couples in Rwandan communities. As part of the What Works to Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls initiative, the structure and content is built upon the latest learning from the field of GBV prevention about what makes effective GBV prevention.
Gender-based violence has been recognized as a cross cutting issue affecting the lives of victims, families, and whole communities from diversity of dimensions including health, economy, culture, psychology, education, livelihoods and political participation. In fact, GBV is considered one of the critical areas of action in Rwanda. This presents a key opportunity for different players, including government agencies, NGOs, opinion leaders and all stakeholders to build an understanding on issues of GBV.
This module is tailored to women trained women’s facilitators at community level to Foster positive change. The module was developed following the establishment of women’s spaces as safe venues for women at community level to interact and exchange of their day to day life challenges mainly on how they can prevent GBV and overcome its consequences. It is intended to improve knowledge, attitudes, skills, and actions of women; facilitate women to connect with other women on key GBV issues and support each other to collectively organize themselves for change. The training module also aims at creating an enabling environment for gender equality and GBV prevention and response in communities.
Stern, E., & Heise, L. (2018). Sexual coercion, consent and negotiation: processes of change amongst couples participating in the Indashyikirwa programme in Rwanda. Culture, health & sexuality, 1-16.
Rachel Kwizera CARE Rwanda
Indashyikirwa (Agents for Change) is an intimate partner violence (IPV) prevention project being implemented across seven Districts in the Western, Northern and Eastern provinces of Rwanda. The programme targets both partners of couples through a series of reflection sessions that challenge causes of gender based violence (GBV) and promote equality.
Ndabaruta Beatrice and Ndayambaje Godefroid are one of the couples that were selected to be a part of the five-month, weekly curriculum.
Beatrice spoke about the difference in her life and relationship before and after participating in the curriculum: “When we got married we didn’t own much, but as time went on, it got worse. We barely had any food in the home because even the little earnings we had my husband spent on alcohol. He always came home late and drunk and he often kicked the door open while hurling insults at me and the children. I became such a miserable person to the extent that I didn’t care whether I took a bath or not, I was not even bothered about body hygiene. I lived in that hopeless situation for seven years”.