To strengthen community and civil society responses to violence against women and children in Africa.
MIFUMI core values
At MIFUMI we take our values and principles seriously. As a growing community of grassroots activists and human rights defenders committed to ending gender-based violence it is our utmost interest to; maintain a woman-centred approach to ending abuse, protect and ensure women and children’s safety, empower survivors to resist violence and demand the rights of women.
Woman centered approach
MIFUMI believes 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.
MIFUMI’s main responsibility is to women because they are disproportionately subjected to violence and abuse compared with men therefore we prioritise and focus on services for women and children experiencing violence and abuse.
Protection and safety as priority issues
Issues of safety and protection are emphasized and are fundamental in MIFUMI’s services and we aim to act quickly and professionally when dealing with our cases. This is especially important at our advice centers and refuge centers.
At our advice centers we provide a supportive, safe and confidential service alongside emergency accommodation to women
Many women and children who come to our advice centers have experienced trauma and therefore to assure our women safety and protection from physical harm and also psychological harm we offer:
1. A purpose-built refuge that offers safe and secure accommodation in a women-only space where women and their children can begin the process of healing. Refuges also enable workers to support women in a safe environment without the risk of backlash from offenders
2. Women only spaces at our advice centers as this makes it difficult for offenders to have the confidence or ability to access the premises.
3. Nearby law enforcement such as our local police station where we are in close contact with police, local councilors and the sub-county chief.
4. Privacy, for example if a woman is being protected at an address that becomes known to the offender she is immediately transferred to another secret location while the matter is being investigated.
5. Mobile numbers of domestic violence advisors that are kept confidential and restricted to staff or clients.
6. A national toll-free violence and abuse helpline offering support and advice to women.
Empower survivors to resist violence and demand their rights
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.
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.
Offering alternative role models
MIFUMI’s services aim to equip women with the necessary skills so 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. We also offer support in becoming economically independent through our women’s economic movement programs.
At MIFUMI we aim to equip women with strategies on how to stay safe as this prevents them from being harassed by men and protects the refuge and advice centers from being threatened.
Anti-discrimination and equal opportunities
- At MIFUMI we have come to understand that gender-based violence exists because of women’s disadvantaged status in society, as described by a United Nations Declaration in 1994.
- Within this framework, it is important to recognize differences between women experiencing violence and the impact of other oppressions. These include discrimination on the grounds of education, economic status, sexuality, ability or disability.
- At MIFUMI we aim to recognize and respect each woman as an individual and accommodate for their needs as we understand not every woman is the same.
Right to self-determination
At MIFUMI we see self-determination as a key principle, we teach women that it is their right to make decisions about their lives. We understand that many women are put under pressure by relatives, friends, and caseworkers to follow a particular route in a situation. For example in more conservative regions people are more likely to believe that the woman should return to an abusive husband, others may think otherwise and decide to insult the woman if she does not do what they say.
We deem such an attitude neither professional nor helpful to a woman and instead help her to identify her choices along with the benefits and drawbacks of each one, and then allow her to make her own decision.
At MIFUMI we recognize that many women do not want their relationship to end but do want the violence to stop and this is the aim of our intervention – to end the violence.
MIFUMI’ services aim to encourage women to be economically independent without having to rely on their partner or aid agencies like MIFUMI for prolonged help. This is further encouraged through our role models, champions and women’s economic movement programmes.
Believing women and children's experience of abuse
At MIFUMI we make sure to listen to a woman’s account of her experience and believe her. We are aware that talking about intimate partner violence can be traumatic and hard to disclose or prove. We also understand stigma and victim-blaming culture can stop a woman from coming forward. That is why we aim to believe what a woman narrates as true.
Supporting the needs of children affected by violence and abuse
- MIFUMI works with mothers alongside their children therefore our services are also children’s services.
- At MIFUMI there is growing expertise in working with children who reside with their mothers at the refuge. A children’s officer is assigned to work with them to restore their emotional balance and confidence. While the needs of children has been a concern at MIFUMI, increased work and training has been done over the last few years particularly through the SURE START project to meet the needs of children at our centers.
- MIFUMI has a full Children’s Rights Policy which governs work with children in schools and in the community.
- There are also MIFUMI publications and resources such as the Feel Free resource pack, that Children’s Officers can use to work with young people to enable them to resist violence and abuse.
MIFUMI's Key Principles
To ensure effective action for survivors
One of MIFUMI’s strengths is that it offers a diverse range of services to women and children experiencing violence and abuse. This includes support at our advice centers and refuges, joining our champions groups and women’s economic movement programmes. This holistic and complete range of support for women ensures their immediate protection, and long term security and empowers them to transition from victims to survivors to Champions in the Community.
MIFUMI believes that violence and abuse is a matter of choice and people can choose to use it or not. Therefore we believe all offenders should be held accountable for their actions and behaviour.
To empower communities to ensure a protective environment for women and to take responsibility for gender-based violence
MIFUMI works with communities to help create a protective environment for women where women have the confidence to resist violence and demand their rights. We believe that the responsibility of gender-based violence should be borne by the community and not by the survivor experiencing the abuse. This means that the community must take a clear stand against violence in all its forms. At MIFUMI we understand that there is sometimes shame around talking about intimate partner violence. Through a community impact we can help to remove the stigma and shame from the woman and transfer the responsibility of ending the abuse to the community.
Hold offenders accountable for their actions and behaviour
MIFUMI works symbiotically with the police, the probation community service, local councilors and the judiciary to protect women and secure their justice. We also work in close partnership with law enforcement officers and power holders to strengthen women’s capacity to report abuse and counter societal shame..