Escaping violence through economic independence
In Nekemete in Ethiopia, violence against women is commonplace. Up to 71% of parents believe that they should circumcise their daughters and many women experience domestic violence. But they feel powerless to challenge violence because they depend on their perpetrators for survival.
Women without an independent income cannot make decisions in the home and, in the event of violence, are too afraid to leave because they cannot support themselves and their children.
Poorer women do not participate in community meetings where issues affecting community members are discussed. So violence against women is not a priority and many women and girls continue to experience it without any solutions.
What Womankind is doing
Womankind is collaborating with Siiqqee Women’s Development Association (Siiqqee) in the small town of Nekemete to support women to come together in groups, discuss what to do about violence in their homes and community collectively and carry out projects and training so they can generate their own income.
- Organising 2,300 women into self help groups where they discuss violence against women and undertake income generating activities collectively
- Raising awareness among community members and supporting them to take action to protect women and girls
What we have achieved so far
In the first year of the project over 1,000 women were organised into self help groups and adopted bylaws binding members not to subject their daughters to Female Genital Mutilation.
In addition 550 community members participated in community meetings on violence against women. There has been increased reporting of cases to the police and courts.
Siiqqee’s work has led to an incredible 60% reduction in FGM in Woliso village.
Kebebush is 51 years old and came to live in the small town of Wolliso having grown up and lived in a village not too far off.
Kebebush relived the high prevalence of FGM when she started a family and how it was so deeply entrenched in her community that almost every girl was circumcised. “My two daughters were circumcised many years ago because I had been taught it was good to do that”.
Through her involvement in the community conversations, however, she has realised that this practice has to stop and is a violation of rights. She recently had a fight with her daughter because Kebebush did not want her grand-daughters to be circumcised. “I have succeeded in convincing my daughter and her husband. My two grandchildren are safe”.
Kebebush is sharing the knowledge that she has received through Siqqee’s work and helping her relatives and neighbours to understand that FGM is a violation of human rights and harmful to women and young girls.
Noradin is 52 years old and a respected leader in his community. He is a member of the community conversation group in his Kebele. He is inspired by the role he can play to benefit the lives of women and girls in his community.
“I benefit from knowing that I can contribute to saving other people’s lives. We pass on the information to other people and many girls are protected from harmful traditional practices.”
“There has been a change in people’s attitudes towards FGM and other harmful practices. Before mothers would have ceremonies to celebrate circumcision but this is no longer the case. However, whilst FGM is decreasing cutting of the uvula (small piece of soft tissue that can be seen dangling down from the back of the tongue) is going up. We have to work on raising awareness on such practise as well”.