Achieving a Better Life
“What does ‘gender equality’ mean to our beneficiaries?
During the last few months, we took the opportunity to visit some of the couples we work with at their homes. We wanted to hear their views on gender equality, and to learn how it plays out in their homes and in their community. We visited a handful of selected couples in each area where we work to get a representative sample of opinions, and we ‘interviewed’ them, having a guided conversation and letting them give their point of view. Our objective was to learn if and how we could help each couple understand what true gender equality would look like in their lives. Our team interviewed many couples and recorded certain points from the conversations to measure the trends in opinion and belief.
We learned that there are still both men and women who believe that a girl’s or woman’s duty is to clean the house and/or compound, wash the dishes, do the laundry, cook, care for the children, and fetch water— all while her brother or husband sit and wait to see that the food is ready, and then be served where they are sitting. We found this mindset prevailed in about one third of the couples we visited.
There are both positive and negative opinions about gender equality among our sample couples. We took the time to ask men and women what ‘gender’ meant in their lives. Some said that it means that girls go to school, women have a role in making decisions, and that women are allowed to get jobs. However, we also talked to people who believe that the boys would be the first priority for schooling, and that women should not give advice about important things. Around 20% of the people we spoke with said that ‘gender’ is the issue that women manipulate in order to rule over men.
We also wanted to know the impact of the concept of ‘gender’ in the couple’s life.
15% said that their lives changed because of they came to understand the concept. They started to share responsibilities, they sent their children to school, and they improved their financial well-being.
5% of the couples said they experienced conflicts because they understood gender equality to be a weapon women use to rule over men. It goes against the culture.
One woman reported she was beaten after going to an event for the women’s movement.
From our interviews, we concluded that we need to continue teaching both men and women. We also need more support to continue building healthy relationships between the genders in our communities. Please consider a donation to Achieving a Better Life for the women and men of Rwanda!