In the Words of Aluben Ampurire: Despite differences and misunderstandings, there is always a better way than to resort to violence.Aluben Ampurire is a Male Change Agent from Katojo village, Biharwe division in Mbarara district in Western Uganda. Aluben, with 35 other men, is working to change the Gender-Based Violence (GBV) trajectory in his community.
“My neighbours had misunderstandings and disagreements for a long time and the situation would sometimes escalate to physical violence. One night in June 2021, they had a physical fight; the husband threw the wife out and destroyed some property. In April 2021, I had participated in a training on Gender- Based Violence (GBV) organized by the National Association for Women’s Action in Development (NAWAD) and I was confident that sharing the knowledge I had gained would make the man come to his senses. I approached the man that very night after he had thrown his wife out of the house and discussed the issues with him while my wife consoled his bruised wife. I explained to him that his behaviour was unacceptable and punishable by law and helped him to understand the psychological and physical impact of GBV on a person and on the community.”
“I could see he was paying attention, thinking hard about what I was telling him. I explained to him that irrespective of the differences and misunderstandings there is always a better way than to resort to violence. I assured him of my availability and support to enable him to change his behaviour. After my talk with him, he allowed his wife back into the house and since then, we have not heard them engage in a fight again.”
After participating in the GBV sensitization meeting, Aluben and 35 other men from his community signed up to become Male Change Agents. They are now sharing their knowledge within their community, working with other men, community groups, couples and sensitizing them on how GBV is affecting the community and what must be done by the community to stop it. Male change agents are comprised of influential male leaders in the community, GBV victims and former perpetrators who the grassroots women were confident would make an impact in combating GBV. Eighty per cent of GBV cases in the project area are perpetrated by intimate partners.
“In the months of April and May 2021, we had GBV awareness sessions every Sunday at the local church before service started. We sensitized people about the dangers of GBV and where they could get help. We have also talked to couples experiencing GBV in our communities telling them that there are always other non-violent ways to resolve conflicts in homes. We also held GBV awareness sessions twice a month during savings group meetings.”
NAWAD is a grantee of the Women’s Peace & Humanitarian Fund (WPHF) COVID-19 Emergency Response Window (ERW) and implements a project focusing on strengthening grassroots women’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic to enhance safety. The project includes working with men as Male Change Agents to end violence against women in Mbarara district, in Western Uganda.
The WPHF mobilizes critical financial support for local and grassroots civil society organizations working on women, peace and security and humanitarian action. The WPHF COVID-19 Emergency Response Window aims to support grassroots women’s organizations responding to the global pandemic in crisis settings. UN Women is the Management Entity for the WPHF in Uganda and provides technical support.