I Care About Her: Building a movement of champions in Zambia to end violence against women and girls | Violence

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Over half of women in Zambia have experienced physical or sexual violence (Zambia Demographic and Health Survey, 2007). Oxfam is partnering with several local organisations to implement I Care About Her, a programme which works to end violence against women and girls by transforming attitudes and beliefs and mobilising men and boys to champion non-violence. The programme has been successful in organising men to speak out against violence, and has engaged national media, traditional leaders, the police, the military and the government of Zambia. Initial results have been promising, and the programme has potential to be an effective model to scale up in the fight to end violence against women and girls in Southern Africa.
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    www.oxfam.org   The 500 Men March, held during the 16 Days of Activism in November 2012. Photo credit: Oxfam in Zambia. I Care About HEr Over half of women in Zambia have experienced physical or sexual violence (Zambia Demographic and Health Survey, 2007). Oxfam is partnering with several local organisations to implement I Care About Her, a programme which works to end violence against women and girls by transforming attitudes and beliefs and mobilising men and boys to champion non-violence. The programme has been successful in organising men to speak out against violence, and has engaged national media, traditional leaders, the police, the military and the government of Zambia. Initial results have been promising, and the programme has potential to be an effective model to scale up in the fight to end violence against women and girls in Southern Africa.    1 62%   of women and 49%   of men believe that men are allowed to beat their wives 72%   of men in Zambia have committed violence against women INTRODUCTION Violence against women and girls (VAWG) is endemic in Zambia, and intimate partner violence is particularly widespread  –  90% of women who have been in an intimate relationship have experienced violence by a partner. i  Oxfam and partners are working to end this. The I Care About Her   programme uses diverse strategies, including mass media, marches, community discussion groups and a school curriculum, to engage men and boys as allies in the fight against VAWG and transform the inequalities which perpetuate their power over women and girls. VAWG IN ZAMBIA 51.9% of women in Zambia have experienced physical or sexual violence, ii  and when economic and emotional abuse are included, the figure may be as high as 89%. iii  In most cases, the perpetrators are never brought to justice. Cultural, traditional and religious practices and beliefs all contribute towards maintaining unequal power relations which place men and boys in a position of power over women and girls. In recent years, progress has been made at national level in laws promoting gender equality. However, Zambia’s dual legal system, which allows local courts to administer customary law, allows practices which discriminate against women to continue.  As many as 62% of women and 49% of men believe that a man is justified in beating his wife under certain circumstances. iv  Violence is often considered part of being a “real man”    –  72% of men in Zambia admit to having committed some form of violence against women. v   “We have always been taught that to be loving is to be weak,” says Solomon Jere, Deputy Inspector  -General of the Zambian Police Force. “The fi rst thing a man feels he must do when he is married is to exert his superiority. It is time to change.”   WORKING TO END VAWG Oxfam has been working in Zambia since the early 1980s, and VAWG is one of the key focus areas. Oxfam works to bring about change through changing policy, raising consciousness and empowering women to speak for themselves and take part in making the decisions that impact their lives. I Care About Her   has been running since 2012. The programme is building a movement of men and women who reject violence. It works primarily with men, as the primary perpetrators, to transform the attitudes and beliefs that perpetuate violence, while also advocating for better laws and policies to address gender inequality, better implementation of existing laws, and ending impunity for perpetrators.    2 Oxfam is implementing the programme in partnership with local organisations  –   the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), Zambia National Women’s Lobby (ZNWL), Panos Institute So uthern Africa (PSAf), Women in Law in Southern Africa (WiLSA) and the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWEZA). In addition to developing and funding the programme, Oxfam supports partners with capacity development, and is facilitating monitoring and evaluation. Regular field visits and learning events allow Oxfam and partner staff to improve the programme collaboratively. Oxfam also acts as a convener, facilitating linkages between partners, larger networks and major players such as government organisations. MOBILISING MEN TO TAKE ACTION  AND CREATE LASTING CHANGE “If you think you are going to be macho by beating women... you are in a wrong generation. If you think you are going to impress your fellow men by beating your wife, you are in a wrong generation.”   Edgar Lungu, Minister of Defence, speaking at the 2,000 Men March I Care About Her   began with a media campaign, spearheaded by Oxfam partner PSAf, a media and development co-ordination organisation. Media adverts and billboards communicated the need for men to play a role in the fight against violence, and a series of regular broadcasts on national television and radio created a platform for men to discuss and challenge their beliefs and behaviours around VAWG. I Care About Her also mobilises men through public events, including marches to coincide with the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence and International Women’s Day , two major rallying points within the international women’s movement . 2013 saw over 2,000 men mobilised to march to end VAWG. Box 1: 2,000 men march to show they care v   On 23 November, 2013, Oxfam and partners arranged the 2,000 Men March  –  an ambitious target, but men rose to the challenge. Over 2,500 men, including police officers and government officials, marched to show their support for the women in their lives. The Zambia Police Brass band played, calling men, women and children of all ages to join the march.  Addressing the community, Hon. Edgar Lungu, Minister of Defence, urged the men present to take an active role in stopping violence against women and girls. “When this type of violence is happening in our communities, we often look the other way. Cross the boundary and see how your neighbour is treating his wife. Befriend him, since he is a man like you, and teach him to stop being violent!”   Men march for the women they care about at the 2,000 Men March. Photo Credit: Oxfam in Zambia.    3 Building on the interest developed through this mass mobilisation, a grassroots campaign to train men as “champions” to end VAWG was launched in late 2013, facilitated by the YWCA Men’s Network.  Champions are responsible for identifying a core group of men to start discussion groups. Discussions are based on 17 Community Education Cards, each of which deals with topics such as women’s rights, the nature of VAWG, and common myths about domestic violence and rape. Women have formed parallel discussion groups in some communities, to raise consciousness around the attitudes that propagate violence, and explore the attitudes which they themselves may hold. 50 police officers have also been trained as champions by WiLSA. I Care About Her   aims to have one champion at every police station in Zambia. These officers are responsible for attending to cases of VAWG and educating colleagues about women’s rights. The school project, coordinated by FAWEZA,   is the newest component of the programme, officially launched in April 2014. Discussion groups are being run in 20 schools, with plans to expand. These groups aim to educate girls and boys about VAWG and encourage them to take action to end it, and challenge unhealthy gender norms from a young age. Curriculum materials are being developed especially for schools, and school heads have requested training to support the programme. IMPACT “Since this programme, men feel they can express themselves.”   “We talk more openly between us now.”   I Care About Her   champion and his wife, Linda Compound “It has been a success here,” says Raymond Havwala, Coordinator of the YWCA Men’s Network, speaking from Linda Compound, a community of around 35,000 people on the outskirts of Lusaka. Before the campaign, four women a month were killed in the area on average, through beating or poisoning. As of early 2014, the rate had decreased to one death a month. Interviews with men across four target districts reveal a significant reduction in reported incidences of violence against their wives and increased understanding about VAWG, as well as greater respect for women. The community groups have proven powerful accountability mechanisms, creating social incentive for men to change violent behaviours. Sample of a Community Education Card, dealing with myths around rape. Image credit: Oxfam in Zambia.
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