Working with all sectors of society to protect women and girls

On a global scale, one in every three women will experience some form of gender-based violence in her lifetime. In Burundi — consistently listed as among the world's top five poorest countries — it's safe to say that that ratio is much higher.

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Registered cases of violence against women in the places FH works have reached “an appalling level” according to international and local Burundian organizations.

Examples include:

In 2010, FH began addressing this violence head-on in Burundian Peace Villages like the one above, called Muriza.

These villages were set up to foster healing and reconciliation among various ethnic groups after decades of devastating civil war. More than 300,000 people died in the fighting, and more than one million were displaced, but now, those who fled are returning home.

Between 2002 and February 2011, more than 511,000 people have moved back to Burundi to continue their lives. The years away from home have left many illiterate, landless, homeless, unable to obtain work, and in abject poverty.

Women suffer all these challenges PLUS being subjected to sexual and gender-based violence, in most cases.

Between just two provinces where FH works, 233 cases of sexual and gender-based violence were reported in just the first three months of 2011.

FH continues to partner with the Burundian government, the United Nations, other humanitarian organizations, local churches, and local community groups to bring awareness and prevention of these abuses. Above is pictured a monthly awareness campaign conducted by FH.

This program now is in its second year, and strong partnerships will allow FH to facilitate the following between Aug. 2011 and July 2012:

  • Villages conduct monthly awareness campaigns.
  • 50 law-enforcement professionals are trained on how to respond to sexual and gender-based violence.
  • 12 women's groups are empowered to earn money and support themselves.
  • Teens and students are educated about sexual and gender-based violence.
  • Radio broadcasts, posters, pamphlets, dramas, song and dance are talking about human rights, appreciating different or alternative gender roles, using nonviolent ways to express anger, and services and support for victims.

Another exciting program is the organization and training of men's groups on issues of sexual and gender-based violence. Not only do men make up half the population; they hold most of the power and leadership positions, so their involvement is essential to creating change. These groups will be formed based on men who show commitment to ending violence against women and girls.

What about after FH leaves?
Plans are in place so that after FH leaves these communities, the men's groups, women's groups and other activities will be taken over by the community and continued.

These programs are funded partially by the U.S. government and also by everyday people who care about protecting women and girls. If that describes you, please consider becoming part of Poverty 180's gender-based injustice cause for only $9 a month!
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