For years, Zainab suffered her husband’s beatings and abuse. Growing up in Nigeria, she was taught a woman’s rights came from her husband. When Zainab’s husband took a second wife, he often refused to give her money to feed their children. He became more violent towards her, and Zainab felt powerless. One in three women globally experience violence like Zainab, and in the countries where we work, this rate is often much higher.
We know it takes courage and the support of others for a woman to stand up for her rights and challenge those who have tried to keep her powerless, be it a family member or an entire community. Through our program, women come together and learn about their fundamental human rights, often for the first time. With the power of this knowledge, we help them identify how to protect their rights and create more equal homes and communities. We connect them with local legal resources, which give them the opportunity to challenge crimes against them in court. To strengthen community support for women’s equality, we have reached out to thousands of local male leaders, recognizing their role in promoting and protecting the rights of all community members.
Through our program, Zainab learned that her rights did not belong to her husband and was inspired by the support of other women in her class. She decided she would not tolerate his abuse any longer. The next time he tried to hit her, she refused to apologize, and stood up for her rights. Neighbors who overheard what was happening joined her side. Since that day, Zainab says her husband has never disrespected or raised his hand against her.
See footnote 1.
How We Do It
Zainab’s story reflects the personal and powerful ways women are inspired to stand up for their rights. Learn more about the ways we help women advance their roles as equal members of their communities.
Taking Action Against Gender-Based Violence
Everywhere we work, rates of violence against women are incredibly high. In Rwanda, such violence has become normalized, with over half of all women believing that a husband is justified in beating his wife. Determined to stop this violence, 1,500 women in Nyaruguru started a campaign with their husbands to educate their community about gender-based violence, and how it harms individuals and families.
Accessing Justice and Claiming Property
In Nigeria, women’s access to justice is limited by complicated legal systems and patriarchal officials. Collaborating with the UK Department for International Development and ActionAid International, we have helped women understand their rights and seek justice. We also raised awareness among 3,600 male leaders in the justice system to support women’s rights.
Participating in Community Activities
Program graduates in Karbala, Iraq shared their own stories in a workshop on violence against women that included representatives from the local UN office, the International Rescue Committee, and Al-Amal Association. They spoke about overcoming obstacles with the support of peers and through financial independence, encouraging Al-Amal Association to provide more support to widows and divorced women.
Promoting Women's Voices and Leadership
In December, our Afghanistan Country Office worked with the Afghan Women’s Network and Gender Action for Peace and Security to hold a workshop on the UK Government’s National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security. By raising the voices of the most marginalized women, we reinforced their contributions to peace and security.
Engaging Men as Allies
When it comes to ending violence against women, men are part of the problem – but they are also part of the solution. That’s why we engage men as advocates for women’s equality. From mullahs in Afghanistan to traditional and civic leaders, law enforcement, and military members in Nigeria and the DRC, we have worked with over 7,500 male leaders.
1. This analysis includes participants who were enrolled between October 2009 - October 2010. Data are self-reported at enrollment, graduation, one-year post-graduation, and two years post-graduation. Only participants who were surveyed at all four of these points in time are included in this analysis. Scientifically establishing cause and effect with respect to any program is an involved effort that takes place over years. WfWI's Monitoring, Research, and Evaluation team is engaged in ongoing efforts to establish the effects of our programs more definitively.