In the meeting halls of the selected sectors in Ngoma, Kirehe and Nyaruguru districts. We meet 120 couples, basically 40 individuals per district with cases of domestic conflicts, they were trained on gender equality for a period of two months.
The couple’s training was led by RWAMREC, a men’s resource organization working to promote, gender equality, positive masculinities, and engaging men to eliminate all forms of violence against women and children.
This activity is part of a project aimed at Accelerating national progress towards women economic autonomy through male involvement in unpaid care and domestic work.
The trainees are seated with their spouses, holding a notebook and a pen. Looking at their faces, they seem interested to hear from the instructor, as she uses humor to relate with their situation.
Nyiramayira Donatile, a mother of 7 children, resides in Nyaruguru district, she is married for 27 years. She notes “I used to wake up and sweep, mow grass for cows, harvest sweet potatoes, gather firewood, then cook and sometimes the sun could set still with pending things to do.
Nyiramayira narrates that her husband was a drunkard and he squandered their finances after selling their goats and wood without consulting her and this offended her.
A research conducted by UN Women, findings revealed that a rural woman spent seven hours per day doing unpaid care work, while the urban woman spent six hours and nine minutes as opposed to the man who only spent two hours per day.
This inequality is considered as one of the factors hindering the woman’s ability to thrive, considering the time she spends engaging in unpaid care work thus failing to secure enough time on income generating activities.
Ntwuruhunga Athanasie a beneficiary from Kirehe district, she is married for 33 years, she affirms that RWAMREC’s lessons are just on time saying “they alleviated my stress, whenever it clocked 3 am in the morning my mind was wondering what my children shall eat along with my list of basic necessities.
Bakure Anastase a beneficiary from Ngoma district, is married to Mukase Marie Jeanne was touched after attending RWAMREC’s sessions and he concurred that he had to change some things at home since her wife was suffering from a chronic back ache due to work overload.
The unpaid care work is not only tiresome ; they trigger domestic conflicts among couples majorly the rural woman due to inequality experienced on vital unpaid care work, which can be otherwise be done evenly.
In a recent survey conducted by United Nations Women revealed that women mentioned that it’s fine when a man beats his wife for burning food but if there was a boy or a man closer by, whom could have prevented the burning but ignored it then this calls for mobilization.
Another shocking fact was that all of them had a mindset that a woman has to tolerate violence to avoid breaking her marriage.
Tuyishimire Clementine a beneficiary from Ngoma says” I am the president of a rural association, initially my husband couldn’t understand my pursuits calling me stubborn, claiming the role is diverting me from my wifely duties, though ever since RWAMREC trained us this has changed, today I’m free and he agreed me to run for another term.”
Ndayambaje Emmanuel a husband of Tuyishimire Clementine revealed that, he used not to discuss anything with his wife because they both had divided views, today that is gone. He notes “Today whenever I notice she’s cuddling the baby I immediately head straight to cooking.”
The impact of this training was already witnessed during and after the training where many of the trainees changed, forgiven and reconciled with their spouses ending grudges and enmity.
“I’m rejoicing due to the harmony we have now, unlike before when we never reasoned together, today we sit and deliberate together,” That is a statement of Nyirabera Seraphine from Nyaruguru district.
Ntirugiringanji Etienne is married to Ntawuruhunga Athanasie from Kirehe, this man was always worried to go back home at night, he actually wished that the sunset would delay in fear of facing his home strife, today the couple is living in peace.
The gender equality sessions have also revived Muteteri Anastasia from Ngoma, she says “before this, he never allowed me to engage into business, but after attended RWAMREC’s training, he agreed we get married legally, in addition our Cell leader gave us 100,000 RWF to support our family.”
Today, one cansnot hesitate to say that men play a huge role of pacifying families, as well as being heroes in their story, they initiate solutions over inciting problems at home, by doing unpaid care work.
Mukeshimana Consolee, a counselor at RWAMREC, advises couples to avoid unfair division of duties, alcoholism, financial egocentricism, micromanaging your spouse, unfaithfulness and polygamy.
She equally asked them to partner on unpaid care work, to manage finances well, joint decision making, encourage conversations, pamper their love, trust, respect and have equal rights.
By Richmond Runanira