Over 80 community leaders and activists have benefited from a weeklong Sasa! Together training that took place in Bundibugyo district.
The training now at the Awareness phase aims at deepening the analysis of men’s power over women and the community’s silence about it.
At this phase, community members are expected to start questioning the way things are done and challenge them to think whether they should remain that way.
The head of End of Violence Against Women Prevention and Sasa! Together team leader Rhonah Babweetera says, “Community activists and community leaders are empowered through these trainings with skills and knowledge to spark provocative conversations about power over and the ways in which men have power over women. The trainees will be busy facilitating activities to engage communities in these conversations”
Bundibugyo is among the districts grappling with social imbalances between men and women in Uganda. Trainees indeed confirmed that their society believes that men have power over women, and women should not question their male counterparts at all levels.
“Majority of the members are very excited about the information sharing citing that it will help them answer the most difficult questions they have been struggling with, like the root cause of violence as opposed to contributing factors which are mostly cited.” Ms. Babweetera noted.
The trainings that climaxed on December 22, 2020 also involved practical sessions where participants acted out scenarios of how exactly things are done in their communities, and how they should be on the contrary. The gist of the content in the skits evolved around power dynamics in homes and communities, and how they can be helped to allow equitable treatment of men and women.
At the end of the awareness phase, participants are expected to fully appreciate the forms of violence and the fact that the vice has negative consequences.
Trainers are equally tasked to bring community leaders and activists to a place where they feel that violence against women is absolutely unacceptable and that their silence about it allows it to continue. “These are very ancient and deeply rooted practices that may not be wiped out in a year or two, but there is always a beginning place. If we are able to make our trainees understand the dangers of the violence against women, our cup is half full. We are taking very good strides so far, and from the start phase, we can see the ground was well layed.” Bbabweetera said.
The national lockdown as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak has been an eye opener to those who still doubted the vulnerability of women and girls and the need to address power imbalances in a decisive manner. While thousands of girls may never go back to school as a result of early pregnancies reported during the lockdown, their male counterparts will not suffer the same consequences. This explains why the Sasa Together program still has much to achieve.
The team of Sasa Together trainers from Bundibugyo, will be heading to Tororo and thereafter to Kasese to complete the Awareness phase, before embarking on the Support phase later in the year.