One man's story: Brought back home by gender training
Faucus, a father of four children, found his life transformed when a CARE project, funded by UK aid, helped him see the damage that gender inequality was doing to his wife, his family – and himself. This is his story, as told to CARE.
When I got married in 2001, I had learnt from my father and my uncles all about being a real man – which is being brave and mostly dominating my home, as well as making all decisions.
A few years after our marriage, we started feeling the effects of poverty as we were having children and my family was becoming a financial burden.
My wife decided to join one of CARE’s village savings and loan associations (VSLA) in order to get some money for her own.
I did not care much about where and how she could get the little money for savings; I knew she would not touch anything from my house!
I used to ignore all from the ‘Women VSL’ and its importance, until, one time last year, I was informed by my wife that VSL members and their partners were invited for a public meeting.
Indashyikirwa [Agent for Change – the CARE-supported project] made my day!
I went for the meeting but I was hesitating, thinking that I won’t stay for long.
But the meeting went very well with good facilitators who informed us about the process for the next steps.
My wife was selected to be one of the people who will follow the training provided by RWAMREC (Rwandan Men's Resource Centre). We were then informed that women will be accompanied by their husband in the training.
At first I felt that I should say no but I finally decided to give it a try.
We were then trained on different topics: gender and types of gender-based violence. But the session I liked most – and it touched me – was the division of labour. How the 24 hours are used in our homes.
I realised that my wife works harder than I do!
We also learnt about different types of power we hold and I realised that I have been using mostly power over my wife, and my children had to listen and follow with respect all of my decisions.
When the facilitators started giving examples, I felt they knew me before because they were describing my attitudes and behaviours. But in group discussions, I realised that even some other men were behaving like me or even worse.
We then discussed domestic tasks and division of labour and I realised, myself, how my wife has suffered.
Since then, I went home committed to change.
I started looking at some domestic tasks that I can accomplish like cooking and bathing our children. I started spending less hours in bars while she is working!
Indashyikirwa brought me back home. It is like I was a foreigner in my family.
I started chatting with my children; being at home in the evenings while I used to be in the centre with other men.
We started planning together weekly activities, even daily. I started greeting her and my children when I enter our home and this has never been the case before.
I started engaging in dialogue with my family on any issue that concerned us or one of us, including education for our children – and now we are mostly able to discuss our sexual relationship.
I just feel younger than some years ago.
I really feel proud of the fruits now; the change is obvious to everyone.
I am more confident even when I walk in the community. I wish all young generations could be trained before they get married…
The Indashyikirwa Project is funded by UK aid, implemented by CARE in partnership with RWAMREC and RWN (Rwanda Women’s Network) in seven districts of Rwanda. Story and photos from Jeannette Caroline Nduwamariya, CARE Rwanda.
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