Domestic Violence and MIFUMI’s Theory of Change
MIFUMI’s take on domestic violence and abuse is guided by the MIFUMI Theory of Change and its six key pathways which addresses violence against women from a global perspective while addressing the local context and applying local solutions. MIFUMI recognises that actions against domestic violence is required simultaneously at all levels of pathways for a significant and sustainable impact to occur. Through this process women and girls have to remain at the centre of all action. For MIFUMI, the key pathways to change includes individual support, supporting and protecting women through women-centred services, lobbying district leaders and bringing about legislative change. Furthermore at MIFUMI we believe these local efforts have to be linked to national, regional and international action to address the global problem of violence against women.
The Theory of Change recognises the broader societal context in Uganda within which efforts to tackle violence against women take place. This includes high poverty levels; strong adherence to traditional cultural practices; dependence; negative and positive attitudes to women and girls; and an acknowledgement that disrupting gender power has both intended and unintended consequences and can create a backlash from those resistant to change.
It is recognised that gendered norms and values about women and men uphold violence against women. Violence against women in Uganda, as in other contexts, is commonly viewed as a normal aspect of relations between women and men. Whilst physical forms of violence can often remain hidden, economic abuse is especially prevalent and men have authority over women’s income. Cultural customs and traditional practices, such as bride price, polygamy and female genital cutting, are strongly embedded in society and within rural communities and hinder equality. Such cultural practices also underpin entrenched myths/beliefs about the role and behaviour of women whereby women are expected to be submissive and unquestioning of male authority. Sayings such as ‘women cannot own property as they are themselves property’ and ‘children do not belong to the woman’ are common and serve to keep women oppressed. Women in power often reinforce male authority and the negation of women’s rights as well as religious and cultural beliefs about the ‘ideal woman’ and ideals of womanhood.
The first level of change we tackle operates on an individual and intimate level through individual protection. MIFUMI protects women by handholding and escorting women to the Police, local councillors, and to courts including clan courts, local council courts and courts of law. Women are also handheld during referrals to hospitals and clinics and other local authorities. The personalised advocacy ensures women are not intimidated by law enforcement officers and receive a positive experience and outcome of the case.
Hand Holding also serves to empower women to exercise the right to be free of violence. When survivors are handheld to seek justice their rights-defined selves emerge from the supportive encounters with police, magistrates and other judiciaries. Domestic violence survivors come to take on rights consciousness. Survivors begin to define themselves as rights holders and to see their experience as a human rights abuse and their stories as narratives of human rights abuse.
Setting up User-Friendly women centered services to offer Support and Protection
The second level of change we tackle operates on an individual and intimate level through setting up user-friendly survivor focused services to offer support and protection.
Supporting women and girls through women-centred interventions is crucial to addressing violence against women, enabling women and girls to be safe and to rebuild their lives in places of safety. Ensuring positive responses from societal institutions, where women and girls are informed about their rights, is key to their long term empowerment. Raising awareness within communities and families to challenge violence and to change attitudes to women and girls is an important dimension of tackling violence against women. The development of legislative and policy frameworks is a crucial underpinning of addressing violence against women and girls and demonstrates government and policy commitment to the issue.
At MIFUMI our survivor centered services are run by women for women and prioritise women’s safety and empowerment, helping them to rebuild their lives after violence and abuse. Here at MIFUMI we believe this is crucial to supporting survivors. The provision of safe spaces and the creation of support networks, accompanied by skills training and economic empowerment, are key in the long term to ensure that survivors not only survive but also thrive.
Advocating for Legislative Change
The Theory of Change recognises that the state has a critical role to play in tackling violence against women and girls through the development and implementation of legislation and policy. Developing a positive legal and policy framework is a necessary first step but this also must be accompanied by well-resourced support structures to ensure effective implementation.
Lobbying District Leaders
Local political, community and religious leaders are all key stakeholders with a potential role in dealing with violence against women and girls. They are often the first point of call for survivors. That such leaders are sensitised to the issue of violence against women and girls is a necessary prerequisite to positive responses to survivors.
Positive agency and professional responses are a crucial dimension of ensuring survivors get an appropriate and effective response. Given the complex nature of violence against women and girls, co-ordinated and integrated responses require effective collaboration and partnership across all key sectors, including the police, social work, probation, justice and health this is why it is important to involve all institutions to contribute to the movement of change.
MIFUMI has developed Domestic Violence Training Manuals in The Companion series to harness and formally package our experience and knowledge as an effective tool for strengthening key services in response to women experiencing domestic violence and abuse.
The Companion series on domestic violence training are:
A Counsellor’s Companion: A MIFUMI Manual for empowering women out of violence and abuse
The Caseworker’s Companion: A MIFUMI Manual for supporting domestic violence services
The Duty Bearer’s Companion: A MIFUMI training manual on domestic violence
The Companion for Health Professionals: A MIFUMI manual for strengthening key domestic violence
Coming soon: A MIFUMI manual for strengthening key domestic violence services – Police Work and Training the Judiciary.
Together these tools form an effective tool for improving response in service delivery using a human rights approach for social practitioners as well as professionals from health, police and the judiciary.The Companion series will be useful as a reference for: Independent Domestic Violence Advisors, NGOs, Local Councillors, Health Professionals and Human Rights Defenders.
Commitment to Quality
As a charity we have worked for over 24 years to support women and children experiencing domestic violence. Over the years we have learnt to comprehend the depth and complexity in the needs of both women and their children, and so our domestic violence team have built in-depth knowledge regarding the dynamics of domestic violence and women’s broader experiences of gender based violence.
As an organisation we are committed to carrying the needs of our individuals at the centre of our programmes, and it is from these needs that we base our every decision. A way we meet the needs of our women is through our commitment to the five key MIFUMI principles and values:
- We believe Women and Children’s experience of Abuse
- We Prioritise Women and Children’s Safety and Confidentiality
- We support empowerment and self-help so women can regain control of their lives
- We Challenge Discrimination and Promote Equal Opportunities
- We Encourage and Promote Staff Team Spirit and Personal Growth
At MIFUMI it is important to us to:
- Adopt a woman centred approach which makes it essential that staff understand women’s rights and also ensures the activities are well targeted with primary accountability to women and girls. It also means that the best interest of women and girls are safeguarded, their participation assured, and their confidence built throughout the process of accessing justice. In line with this, MIFUMI works to create community “champions” from among the women supported together with supportive individuals in the community to build a “safety net” around survivors.
- Apply the community based approach which involves community wide engagement to make the work “home grown”, thereby building local ownership and making the community members the “best friends” and “critiques” of the initiative.
- Build strategic partnerships and alliances to increase access to services and counter impunity. This involves working more closely with individuals and duty bearers with a good conscience and with key protection agencies which include justice delivery agencies such as the police and courts, as well as the local government agencies both technical and political, as well as Civil Society groups. Strategic partnerships will be strengthened through joint meetings, cross referrals, and joint monitoring, case reviews and protection committee meetings, sharing information and budgets and also through conducting joint outreaches. There will be a need to influence law and policy makers to adopt the Tororo Bridal Gifts Ordinance in 2 new districts and operationalize the landmark ruling by the Supreme Court (2015) in the MIFUMI case on bride price.
- We believe justice to one person is as important as justice to the general community. For this reason MIFUMI has successfully adopted the handholding of survivors going through support services, as the best way to build confidence and empower the individual woman, and the best way to spot and promote talented community volunteers turning them into “champions”.
- Bring about Innovative changes: MIFUMI would like to scale the multimedia communication and advocacy on bride price and polygamy to effect change of attitude on a wider scale. To this end, information stored in the electronic M&E system will be channelled to influence public opinion through a multimedia approach. Stakeholders for this innovation will include the media houses that will air DV programmes and messages for public education and IT companies who will support the integration of the electronic system.
Effective, Innovative and Unique Project Characteristics
MIFUMI has championed and pioneered innovative approaches to ending violence against women, as described below.
Surfacing underlying causes of VAWG and enabling the community to make the connections, such as bride price and strategic litigation on identified drivers of violence to pronounce them unconstitutional. The campaign on bride-price was bold and forced communities to deal with the issue of VAWG.
MIFUMI pioneered the set-up of formal Shelters for survivors of VAWG in Uganda, and linked to that, the safety nets ‘sheltering’ at the community level by women in the community, also taken on by a few committed leaders.
The advice centre (AC) model at the sub county level that sensitised about, dealt with and referred cases of violence; supported by champions of women’s rights, eager to come to the rescue of those suffering violence and Gender Sensitive Men (GSM) in leadership positions to support them, encouraged action against VAWG in an inexpensive way.
An integrated and holistic approach and response to VAWG through amplifying voice, empowerment of women, focus on survivors (survivor centred), eliminating stigma and transforming the status and perceptions of / about the survivor in the community / nurturing leadership and economic empowerment; adapting pathways to the needs and conditions of the survivor, while providing opportunity for perpetrators where possible, to redeem themselves.
Building a women’s social movement concerned with and addressing the issue of VAWG and rights, with the knowledge, awareness, skills, intent and courage to take action at the community level, and support women to access justice, while building their livelihood base and economic empowerment. Using the space of the VSLAs and cooperatives to provide encouragement, support and nurture to survivors, while taking an accommodative stand to support those suffering other forms of social injustice. This integrated economic and social assets building approach enabled survivors to gain their dignity and influenced the communities. It also enabled financial inclusion and access to resources.
Response to and follow up of cases of injustice and using numbers to highlight these cases, while working with the referral mechanism