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 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.
Gender Sensitive Men
At MIFUMI we recognise that in order to empower women, we must also educate men and boys on power relations with women. Through using both male and female Champions as community role models we aim to build a movement that fosters respectful gender relations between women and men and a future free of violence.
Our male champions receive training on positive masculinity, power dynamics and rejection of common negative norms often found with men and boys. The champions are supported in developing advocacy plans for gender transformative action. Our male champions also take advantage of everyday community events to raise awareness on issues around gender and engage community members in discussions about unequal power relations.
One of the reasons our champions are so successful is due to our pre-nomination procedure. Before nominating our champions we assess them on their interest in addressing issues around gender relations, their command of respect in the community, and the ways they use their influence to create a supportive environment for women’s rights. Before selecting a candidate we monitor their engagement during our MIFUMI led activities and women’s support groups. Once chosen we train them into accumulating the knowledge, awareness, and skills to organize and advocate collectively to facilitate social change and mobilize community members.
Some of our incentives for champions include media visibility opportunities during campaign events, training certificates, public recognition of their work, exposure visits, T-shirts, IDs, and access to power holders. At MIFUMI we also exercise a duty of care to ensure the safety and security for champions through information, training, and support.
Call us on +256 41 466 946 if you are interested in becoming a Champion.