At MIFUMI we believe that violence against women is a result of historically unequal power relations between men and women that are reflected in existing gender relationships in society. We realise these unequal displays of power often place women in a position of societal disadvantage. This is why our main priority is to empower women and place them at a greater position in society while also ensuring their protection.
We aim to empower women on a personal and psychological level so that they have the strength and emotional resources to counter violent relationships if they choose to. This empowerment involves equipping women with the awareness and skills needed for them to take control of their own lives in hope of a violence-free future.
The ways in which we empower women:
1. Resources and Skills
At MIFUMI we support women into becoming economically independent through our women’s economic movement programs.
At MIFUMI we aim to deliver women’s economic empowerment through promoting self-reliance, self-governance and social economic development
Our main devices to achieve female economic empowerment is through:
Raising our Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA) and supporting its transformation into an influential and empowering body.
Training individuals into mastering skills such as agriculture, business and financial literacy for sustainable economic success
Teaching development skills on issues like nutrition, food security, and land rights of women
Read more about women’s economic empowerment.
At MIFUMI we work with law enforcement officers to protect women and aim to hold perpetrators accountable for their actions and behavior.
MIFUMI also believes that violence and abuse is a matter of choice and people can choose to use it or not. Therefore we believe all perpetrators should be held accountable for their actions and behaviour.
MIFUMI works symbiotically with the police, local councillors and the judiciary to protect women and secure their justice. We also work in close partnership with law enforcement officers to strengthen women’s capacity to report abuse and counter societal shame.
At MIFUMI we offer strong positive role models for both men and women
MIFUMI’s services aim to teach women that they can be independent and are capable of managing services without needing to rely on men, this is further encouraged through our role models and champions and gender sensitive men.
At MIFUMI we train our champions to facilitate community conversations and motivate their peers to take positive action to end gender based violence and promote sexual reproductive health rights. These community conversations take place in the centre of towns and villages and can often lead to big crowds and great influence due to our strongly respected champions. Our champions also provide appropriate support to survivors they come into contact with and receive comprehensive training and support from staff who also conduct follow ups to observe them in action. We also use our follow ups to identify the needs of our champions, and to monitor the progressive changes in community awareness and attitudes.
Read more about our Champions and Gender Sensitive Men
At MIFUMI we value women supporting women
Survivors of violence suffer greatly from being abused and dominated by men and we understand the benefits a woman can have when others can relate to her experience and she is heard and understood. That is why we aim to instill the importance of women supporting other women. This is further passed on to our women by our women counselors.
Furthermore, violence and abuse usually involve injuries that are inflicted in places that are difficult to disclose, so a female counselor offers more confidence to survivors in disclosing their injuries.
In March 2011 we had a situational analysis report on Gender Based Violence in the Republic of Uganda by UNIFEM and their findings were as follows:
- A large acceptance of intimate partner violence among adults in the eastern regions
- It was accepted as normal for a girl under 18 years of age to be forced into a marriage. The eastern regions of Uganda held a high score of 4.8
- Some instances of sexual violence was accepted in the eastern regions with a score of 3.6
- In all the four regions, money, children, disobedience, alcohol and housework seem to be the main causes of domestic conflict.
- Feelings of fear and shame continue to deter victims from seeking support or making public the GBV incidences meted on them especially those related to sexual assaults.
- A multi-sectoral and multilevel approach involving collaboration by the justice, health, education, and other sectors is necessary to address GBV
- Efforts on changing community values on GBV violations should be at community level.
The outcomes of the grant are relevant in the following respects:
Empower survivors to seek services addresses the factors deterring survivors from seeking services
Implement the MIFUMI economic empowerment strategy to drive out poverty
Use a community based approach through the use of Individual Domestic Violence Advisers (IDVAs) to prevent gender inequality.
Effectiveness of methodologies and approaches for survivor empowerment:
- Economic empowerment of women has been a catalyst for effecting attitudinal changes around gender based violence
“Recently when my child fell sick, I just went to the group and borrowed emergency money and rushed to the hospital. I was able to meet all my hospital expenses and my child is now okay. Originally whenever I would ask for this kind of assistance from my husband, he would pull out for me his pockets as a sign of no money. I would react emotionally and we would fight. Because am able to meet the home expenses I have observed that my husband is gradually treating me with respect.”
Excerpt from MIFUMI Uganda progress report, 2011.
- Empowering survivors through IDVAs and survivor support groups helps in the healing process and building of confidence and self–esteem and responds to women’s vulnerability to DV in survivors of gender based violence.
Working with men to get communities to question and change attitudes on DVBP is useful as it targets men who constitute the majority of perpetrators of gender based violence. Originally MIFUMI worked with men as duty bearers through the community safety forums.
Male activists have been added on board and now include leaders. This is a new initiative but the feedback from staff, and IDVAs indicate that it has helped in reducing backlash and social pressure on survivors to drop cases, and increased participation and attendance of meetings in which community solutions are made. One of our gender sensitive male community leaders said:
“other actors like the local leaders have joined ‘us’, the sub county officials are instead calling us to ‘enter’ their sub counties, originally they were our direct rivals causing backlash in different styles.” Another said “even their thinking (referring to local leaders in the community) of the past has changed, they are now more receptive.” Oryema the case worker said “since the involvement of male cadres, the response in the community is very good and attendance of community solution meetings is higher.”
Excerpts from MIFUMI Uganda progress report, 2011.
Lessons learning and dissemination
Lessons learnt have been used to inform MIFUMI’s interventions. Although there has not been a systematic policy of dissemination, MIFUMI has exploited media and other opportunities to disseminate learning and those include the popular national television programme ‘On the spot’, Uganda Speaks, print media, MakoMere Radio soap, Radio talk shows, new social media, development magazines, academic publications through Bristol & Warwick Universities Bride Price and its links to Poverty and Domestic Violence in Uganda WSIF_1455, Joint programme on Gender Equality and the website. As a result many more people in the general public are aware of MIFUMI Uganda’s contribution to development as evidenced by the various awards and recognition such as MDG3 torch bearer, Soul Beat e-newsletter, FAWE award for model of excellence in work on gender based violence and East African Women Achievers and Police award for excellence in community policing.
The following lessons were learnt during program implementation:
MIFUMI has over the years learnt that to create lasting change, women and girls programmes need 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 interests of women and girls are safeguarded, their participation assured, and their confidence built throughout the process of accessing justice. In line with this, MIFUMI Uganda 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 need to influence law and policy makers to adopt the Tororo Bridal Gifts Ordinance in 2 new districts and/or pass a national law on Bride Price.
We believe justice to one person is as important as justice to the general community. For this reason MIFUMI Uganda 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 with integration of the electronic system.
Impact (perceived and likely results)
MIFUMI set out to register impact in the following manner which is derived from the three principles of the MIFUMI approach:
- Confidence among survivors signified by increased reporting of incidents and access to support and services. The whole aspect of having survivors well mobilized to resist violence and abuse and seek help was one dimension.
- The second had to do with seeing the community taking on the burden of abuse and transferring the burden and stigma of abuse from survivors to the perpetrators which would be followed by a reduction in pressure to drop charges, reduction in stigma and shame, and a reduction in backlash showing that the community has rejected domestic violence.
- More perpetrators being held accountable for their actions, so that survivors are satisfied with the outcome of their cases.
Indicators like the survivor satisfaction rate, the level of reporting, passing of laws and regulations on bride price, and feedback from leaders and duty bearers about the partnership attest to improvements in realizing this impact.
Interviews with partners of MIFUMI revealed that MIFUMI can do more to profile its work and advocate for strengthened institutions to prevent and respond to DV. For example, MIFUMI Uganda can document and disseminate the cases it has pursued to duty bearers so that courts and police officers do not trivialise DV cases. Further using its linkages with National Women Association of Women Judges MIFUMI Uganda can work with the judges to enrich the gender course for magistrates by giving examples of cases where magistrates who have exhibited gender biases have resulted into miscarriages of justice for DV survivors with life threatening consequences.
MIFUMI Uganda should also consider joining the Justice, Law and Order (JLOS) Family Justice Working Group where it can in conjunction with the Centre for Domestic Violence Prevention (and other like minded non–state actors) play a role for advocacy for increased resource allocation to DV by giving concrete examples of the economic cost of failure to prevent and respond to DV.