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“That which we achieved cannot be taken from us.” This was sung in Kinyarwanda as I approached the Rulindo district’s event launching this year’s 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) on 26 November 2021

In attendance were community members, police, school children, families, local government officials, and many more. The guests participated in chanting “Don’t keep quiet, fight against gender-based violence” throughout the event to remember the reason that they were gathered.

First, students had put together a skit providing examples of GBV and the process that the characters went through to change their mentalities so that they could move away from conflict in their relationships. A visual demonstration made the event accessible and understandable for people of all ages. It also removed the initial tension that accompanies difficult conversations about GBV and conflict.

There were a series of speakers sharing similar messages of the importance of eliminating GBV and the benefits it has for all members of the community. The guest of honor was Rulindo’s Director of Good Governance who spoke about the services offered to victims of GBV as well as the reporting systems in place for those who witness or experience GBV. He noted that women are powerful and human beings just as men are therefore should be treated respectfully. To achieve these goals, he said, community service organizations (CSOs), partners, and community members must join forces and work together.

The Rwanda Men’s Resource Center is a familiar organization to the residents of Rulindo. Previously, RWAMREC executed a programme committed to ending domestic violence or EDV. Now, they are launching a new programme called Public Policy Information, Monitoring and Advocacy (PPIMA). PPIMA seeks to “engage citizens to participate in the decision-making process and hold leaders accountable and enable them to understand the role of citizens’ participation in decision-making and governance process.

Positive changes in terms of gender equality are evident in Rulindo through audience
engagement and the sheer number of people present. To reward couples that have gotten out of conflict, the district government is gifting modern stoves.

Partnerships with Rulindo and CSOs including RWAMREC are strong so the movement to eliminate GBV and promote gender equality should continue improving in the years to come.

By Emma Gifford - RWAMREC Intern